Science plays an increasingly important role in preparing for and responding to complex environmental crises. DOI scientific expertise has been deployed to evaluate flood risks, model wildfire behavior, assess oil spill flow rates and resource damage, and more. Much of this science is necessarily tactical – solving immediate engineering or resource management problems, evaluating specific options for response, or assessing damage through the Natural Resource Damage Assessment process. There is also a need for science that is strategic – focused on preparation for crises, analysis of long-term consequences, implications for policy, and developing interventions to accelerate recovery and restoration.
The DOI Strategic Sciences Group (SSG) was created to meet the immediate need for strategic scientific information and expertise during environmental crises. The SSG was established within the Office of the Secretary by Secretarial Order 3318, issued January 3, 2012. Through the development and application of science-based scenarios, the SSG can assist strategic response, mid-term recovery, and long-term restoration. In addition, the SSG can provide valuable advisory tools to DOI decision makers as they manage crises at the field, regional, and national levels.
The SSG operates within the Office of the Secretary, and reports to the Science Advisor to the Secretary of the Interior. Two co-leaders selected by the Secretary lead the SSG. One is from the US Geological Survey (USGS) and the other is from another DOI bureau. The Co-Leaders will be advised by a Strategic Sciences Council composed of representatives from each DOI bureau, the Office of Emergency Management, and the Office of Environmental Policy and Compliance.