Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Merging AZGS and ADMMR missions

The proposed merger of the Arizona Geological Survey and the Arizona Dept of Mines and Mineral Resources will link two agencies with complementary missions.

State statute directs ADMMR to promote and advocate development and production of mineral resources through:
  • Field investigations, public seminars, publications, conferences, and mineral displays;
  • Participating in conferences, seminars, forums, public outreach;
  • Providing technical information and assistance;
  • Conducting studies of properties and claims;
  • Maintaining a repository of mineral and mining information;
  • Providing quality data, on promoting mineral development to government bodies;
  • Making surveys of potential economic resources;
  • Conducting field studies which attract investment to the state;
  • Monitoring mining and exploration activities;
  • Cooperating with the Corporation Commission relating to the sale of mining securities.

State statutes direct AZGS to:

  • Provide information the state's geologic character, geologic hazards and limitations and mineral resources.
  • Inform, advise and assist the public in matters concerning the geological processes, materials and landscapes and the development and use of the mineral resources of this state.
  • Encourage the wise use of the lands and mineral resources of this state toward its development.
  • Provide technical advice and assistance to other state and local governmental agencies engaged in projects in which the geologic setting, character or mineral resources of the state are involved.
  • Provide technical advice and assistance in geology to industry toward the wise development and use of the mineral and land resources of this state.

There is nothing in either agency's mission that contradicts the mission of the other. As I see it, the combined agency will carry out the integrated duties with the same dedication to accuracy, quality, and professional standards that they operate with now.
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2 comments:

  1. The Survey and Dept. of Mines & Mineral Resources both provide essential services to many sectors of the Arizona economy including basic science information for scientific research, education, real estate and land valuations, recreational users, mineral exploration and mine development, and the development of non-metallic and hydrolgeologic resources.
    Is there preliminary information available yet on how this consolidation would physically work - how many offices and where located? Is there a preliminary assessment of how much this would save the state on annual basis including projected operating and capital costs? There is little overlap of professional expertise in the existing personnel at the two agencies. One director and perhaps some administrative positions would be released. Unutilized space at ADMMR could be made available for some consolidated facilities if capital improvements (HVAC system) were made.
    I am interested in seeing updates on how this would work logistically and what are the expected savings. Thanks.

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  2. Let me answer each of Cori's questions in order.

    The AZGS will continue to be headquartered in Tucson. This is mandated by statute and is not being changed. The Mining Museum would stay in Phoenix in its present location.

    AZGS has a Phoenix branch office co-located with ADMMR since March 2007 in a single office. We now have 5 geologists based there, but mostly working out of their homes or field based.

    As AZGS has been hiring, we offer new employees the option of the Tucson or Phoenix offices, as long as that fits in with the job requirements.

    After the merger, the AZGS Phoenix staff would be moved in with the existing ADMMR staff in the Museum building. I expect that as mineral resource staff is added or replaced (retirements etc), that we will eventually have mineral geologists and engineers in both cities.

    If the merger is approved, I propose to appoint two independent review panels. One from industry, professional groups (both engineering and geology), and the prospector-rock hound clubs, to look at the organization, facilities, and resources of both agencies and recommend how to move forward. A second panel would be drawn from the museum communities in Arizona and natural history - mineral museums around the country to assess and advise on how best to capitalize on that under-developed resource.

    As to potential cost savings, nothing specific has been projected. In my view, the driving force for the merger is to create a new agency that is more financially stable, speaks with a louder voice in mining matters, and can be more effective and efficient. ADMMR is down from 14 staff to 8 now. Everyone does double duties, including for example, having the Chief Engineer manage the web site and computer system. If we can free him up to do his primary duties, it will benefit everyone.

    A bigger concern should be what happens to ADMMR if they don't merge with us. As a result of the current state budget crunch, the Legislature proposed a 10% across the board cut to the agency. Since nearly half of their state funds go just to pay building rent, Madan Singh testified a couple weeks ago that it would force him to lay off 2 to 3 of their 7 state-funded employees immediately. Another round of cuts is proposed for FY09 starting in July. How viable will the department be then?

    Even in the best of financial times, ADMMR's funding did not grow to meet their needs. They can continue to die by a thousand cuts or we can take action to ensure greater stability and certainty that the ADMMR mission will be continued and even better served.

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