Why has the National Biological Information Infrastructure (NBII) Program been terminated?
As the head of the executive branch of the federal government, the President, through the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), must develop and execute the annual budget for all federal agencies and programs. In his President's Message that prefaces the Fiscal Year 2012 Budget for the federal government, President Obama noted that
[t]he fiscal realities we face require hard choices....This Budget also includes many terminations and reductions to programs across the entire Federal Government. These cuts include many programs whose mission I care deeply about, but meeting our fiscal targets while investing in our future demands no less. All told, we have put forward more than 200 terminations and reductions for over $30 billion in savings.
The U.S. Geological Survey's National Biological Information Infrastructure (NBII) Program was one of many federal programs to be cut in the FY12 budget.
You say that the NBII Program was terminated beginning in Fiscal Year 2012, which starts on October 1, 2011, but you began reducing the Program in early 2011. Why?
Congress's final Continuing Resolution for Fiscal Year 2011, which established the federal government's operating budget, contained $7 million in cuts to the U.S. Geological Survey. Due to these cuts, and strategic operating decisions by the Bureau, the National Biological Information Infrastructure budget was reduced by $3.8 million (54%) for FY2011. With a loss of more than half its funding, the NBII was forced to close out many projects well ahead of the FY2012 termination of the Program in order to stay within this reduced budget.
What was the NBII Program's budget?
In FY2010, the NBII budget was $7 million. This was reduced by 54% to $3.2 million in FY2011, and the remaining funds will be eliminated in FY2012. The Program is terminated in the FY2012 budget.
What will happen to the NBII website and all of its data, information, tools and applications?
With the termination of the NBII Program, no funding exists to continue the NBII website and most of the data, information, tools, and applications that it provided. The NBII website will shut down on January 15, 2012. A small number of datasets and applications that were funded and supported by a consortium of organizations that included NBII and others may continue to be hosted and maintained by the hosting partner, depending upon their ability to locate new funding sources.
Won't most NBII data and applications be available through data.gov once the NBII website is gone?
Some federal government data that has been made available in NBII databases and applications may be provided by the respective generating agencies to data.gov. It is important to note that the mission of data.gov is "is to increase public access to high value, machine readable datasets generated by the Executive Branch of the Federal Government." Many NBII databases and applications were developed by partners using a range of data from multiple agencies and organizations, including state, regional, not-for-profit, academic, and private sector sources; generally, these data providers are not data sources in the current data.gov. Once NBII goes offline, most non-federal data will have to be acquired individually from their sources.
I have heard that other organizations and activities (e.g. USGS, the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF), the NSF-sponsored DataONE initiative) will continue to provide the data, tools, systems, and support that NBII has been providing. Is this true?
The USGS NBII Program has participated in several national and global initiatives related to biodiversity and biological information. These efforts have had established work plans, projects, and priorities. While USGS does anticipate continued collaboration with some of these activities, we have yet to determine at what level this will occur. It is reasonable to assume that most of these initiatives will not be able to maintain, support, and/or continue the more than 259 applications developed under the NBII Program.
With the termination of the NBII Program, is there no longer a national biodiversity network in the United States?
The NBII was established in the late 1990s to serve as a National network for biodiversity within the United States within the National Information Infrastructure Initiative. As a result of the Program's termination, no single, integrated point of access to federal and non-federal biological and biodiversity information within the United States will exist.
I often use the NBII site and tools to find general information on biodiversity, ecological issues, and plants/animals in various regions of the United States. What can I do now to find this information?
The NBII website and its databases and applications did provide various biological content focus areas on a national and regional level. These were supported by several partner organizations and due to the lack of Program funding, these content areas will no longer be supported and available. Due to the sheer number of resources that were made available through the NBII, we are unable to provide alternative recommendations for specific information needs.
I am with a Federal Agency and we have collaborated with the NBII on several projects and activities. What will happen to those efforts?
In the past, the USGS NBII Program supported several interagency activities including the Natural Resources Monitoring Partnership (NRMP), the Fish & Wildlife Service Focal Birds site, the Invasive Species Early Detection Rapid Response (EDRR) System, the Ecoinformatics Working Group, BioEco, and others. Future participation by USGS in these activities is being evaluated, and the USGS does anticipate some level of continued participation in selected interagency activities. If you have a question regarding a specific inter-agency activity that is not addressed elsewhere on this FAQ, please contact the NBII Program.
NBII supported a number of citizen science reporting systems. What will happen to those systems and the data they generated?
Several citizen science initiatives were started or continued under the NBII Program, including the Mid-Winter Bald Eagle Survey, the North American Reporting Center for Amphibian Malformations (NARCAM), the Seabird Ecological Assessment Network (SEANET), the Wildlife Health Event Reporter, the Hawaii Early Detection Network, the Maui County Report a Pest Online Form, and others. Additionally, NBII funding helped support the development of other citizen science systems that were hosted and maintained by partners. The termination of the NBII Program has resulted in a loss of the funding necessary to support many of these services. USGS understands the value of citizen science initiatives and their important contributions to a better understanding of the status and trends of our natural resources. USGS is working with individual partners and organizations to address the status and future of these resources, including transitioning them to new organizations that can support them, or seeking new funding sources to continue them. We will address the disposition of specific citizen science systems on this FAQ as final decisions are made.
What will happen with related USGS Biological Informatics Programs such as the Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS), USGS Gap Analysis Program (GAP), and USGS/NPS Vegetation Mapping Program?
The former USGS Biological Informatics Program (now part of the USGS Core Science Analysis and Synthesis Program) is the parent program to the NBII, ITIS, GAP, and the Vegetation Mapping Program. While the NBII Program has been terminated and its funding eliminated, ITIS, GAP, and the Vegetation Mapping Program remain funded activities and will continue to provide high quality data, services, and cyberinfrastructure to collaborators and users.
What will happen to the NBII Metadata Clearinghouse?
The Clearinghouse is a major access point to data for the biological and ecological communities; it contains nearly 100,000 metadata records from a number of federal agencies, as well as a wide variety of state, regional, not-for-profit and academic partners who are "member nodes." Additionally, the Clearinghouse is a key provider of metadata to the DataONE Network. The Clearinghouse supports USGS and other federal science and natural resources management agencies in meeting their legal obligations to make available metadata that describes federally funded data collection activities. USGS recognizes the vital role of the Clearinghouse in supporting the understanding and use of scientific data. The Metadata Clearinghouse will become a USGS Metadata Clearinghouse, and will continue, uninterrupted, after the NBII website ends on January 15, 2012. While the branding will change, the Clearinghouse will continue to support all existing Clearinghouse member nodes, and seek out new partnerships, both within USGS and externally, to expand its metadata holdings for scientific data.
What will happen to the NBII Biocomplexity Thesaurus?
The Biocomplexity Thesaurus and its Web service will continue to be supported by the USGS Core Science Analytics and Synthesis Program, and will remain publicly available elsewhere on the USGS web site after January 15, 2012.
Several collaboration communities with members outside USGS are actively using the my.NBII.gov collaboration portal to support project management and development. Will this capability be available after January 15, 2012? If not, are there other USGS-sponsored systems to support this activity?
We are aware that many NBII partners have active projects in the my.NBII.gov collaboration portal. We are undertaking a review of various collaboration services that have recently become available within USGS, our ability to support users outside the agency, and our role in providing these kinds of services to your community and projects. We intend to work individually with all our Community Managers to determine the most appropriate disposition of communities and any associated projects. Please be assured that documents contained in my.NBII.gov communities and projects will not removed until disposition arrangements have been finalized with Community and Project Managers. If you have any questions on this activity, please don't hesitate to contact your Community Manager or NBII Support.