On 8 November 2007, the Natural Science Collections Alliance sent a letter to the leadership of the House and Senate Subcommittees on Interior, Environment and Related Agency Appropriations. The letter acknowledged both subcommittee’s prior support for the US Geological Survey and the National Biological Information Infrastructure (NBII), and encouraged the subcommittees to do all they can to restore proposed fiscal year 2008 cuts to the NBII program.

The text of the letter follows.

As you endeavor to complete work on the fiscal year 2008 appropriations for the Department of the Interior, the Natural Science Collections Alliance (NSC Alliance) would like to express our strong support for the United States Geological Survey’s (USGS) National Biological Information Infrastructure (NBII) program. The NBII is an important component of our national scientific research enterprise and plays an important role in helping scientists share information among themselves, with government agencies, with the public, and with natural resource managers. We recognize the budget constraints that you face, but encourage you to provide the NBII with at least $6 million in FY 2008 funding.

The NBII is a collaborative program to provide increased access to scientific data and information on the nation’s biological resources. Its activities are vital to the ongoing needs of the nation’s natural scientists, those concerned with identifying possible health or security threats of a biological nature, and the ongoing research activities of scientists across the country. The NBII and its partners and collaborators also work on new standards, tools, and technologies that make it easier to find, integrate, and apply biological resources information. Toward this end, the NSC Alliance has worked in recent years with the NBII and our member institutions to identify barriers to accessing the biological specimens and data located in natural science collections and natural history museums across the nation. As a result of these meetings, NSC Alliance member institutions are discussing how they might develop and implement novel technologies that will unlock the vast amount of untapped knowledge held in these collections.

Thank you for your past efforts on behalf of the USGS and NBII. Your efforts to restore the program’s $6 million budget are sincerely appreciated. If you require additional information or have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact NSC Alliance director of public policy, Dr. Robert Gropp, at 202-628-1500 x 250.

Michael A. Mares, Ph.D.

To download a copy of the NSCA letter sent to the Senate, click NBII Letter to Senate.