Thursday, January 08, 2009

USGS director Mark Myers resigns

Mark Myers, director of the USGS, announced his resignation today. Suzette Kimball, Associate Director for Geology, will serve as Acting Director until his replacement is named. Rumors have been circulating since the AGU meeting last month that Mark was stepping down. Today, he met with the USGS staff in Denver and tomorrow will be in Menlo Park for an all-hands meeting. His memo to all USGS employees follows:

                                          January 8, 2009

To: All U.S. Geological Survey Employees

From: Mark D. Myers Director

Subject: A Fond Farewell

As is customary during a change in Administrations, I have offered my
resignation as your Director. Although I have expressed an interest to
stay, I have heard no response from the incoming Administration and
therefore anticipate the resignation will be accepted. I am proceeding
with the succession plan and pleased to announce that Dr. Suzette Kimball,
Associate Director for Geology, will serve as Acting Director of the USGS.

Dr. Kimball was named Associate Director for Geology in April 2008. Before
joining Geology, Dr. Kimball served as the Eastern Regional Director since
2004 and the Eastern Regional Executive for Biology from 1998-2004. Her
strong science background coupled with her leadership skills in overseeing
multiple disciplines in the Region and her successes in building
partnerships make her well suited to lead USGS through the transition until
a permanent Director is confirmed.

I want to take this opportunity to thank all of you for your tremendous
support over the past 28 months. I have been truly honored to serve as
your Director. Building on the strength of the past, we have strategically
advanced our science leadership position for the future challenges our
country and society will face. I leave knowing the USGS is well positioned
to make positive contributions to the many daunting issues the new
Administration will confront.

The Science Strategy developed by our scientists is now the vision and
roadmap for much of what we do. Our revitalized senior leadership team is
strongly committed to it and has begun to aggressively implement this
strategy. Direct results of the implementation include our dramatically
enhanced national leadership in climate change science and our very timely
energy assessments of arctic petroleum resources, geothermal resources and
gas hydrates. We have achieved our vision of providing Landsat satellite
data free to the public, via the Web, and made significant progress toward
the launching of Landsat 8. We have aggressively begun the process of
revitalizing The National Map. We have focused attention on the need for a
comprehensive water census and made great strides in gaining external
support for this initiative. Last November, the USGS provided outstanding
leadership in the planning and development of the Great Southern California
“ShakeOut”—the largest earthquake hazards drill in U.S. history. Our
science has made countless contributions to DOI management issues,
including the listing of the polar bear as a threatened species, and the
Colorado River high-flow experiment conducted to determine if high flows
can be used to boost ecosystems and improve natural, cultural and
recreational resources in the Glen and Grand canyons.

Most importantly, our science has been heard and valued. USGS science will
help inform the policy debates that will continue into the next
Administration. I encourage you to continue to conduct the high quality,
unbiased science that is our hallmark and continue to make your voices

Among the highlights of my tenure has been the opportunity to spend time
with some of you in the field. The incredible discussions we have had and
the opportunity to see the amazing work you are doing will be something I
will treasure for the rest of my life.

Thanks for letting me share in your successes over these past two years.
Please join me in welcoming Suzette to her new role.


  1. Anonymous6:43 PM

    I'm somewhat curious about this issue. I don't expect the director of the USGS to be a political appointment, although technically it is. Are there political ramifications? or, is it more of a personal decision?

  2. The Director of the USGS is appointed by the President, but the protocol (going back how far I don't know) is for the National Academy of Sciences to submit a list of names that the President chooses from. So, to that extent, the process is de-politicized. It's my sense that USGS Directors don't automatically get replaced with a change of administrations or even changes of political partie, or at least not immediately.

    A number of colleagues in the USGS have told me recently that Mark's name did not come forward from the Academy, and that his appointment was strongly supported by Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski. They attribute that pathway to the appointment as making Mark more vulnerable to being replaced and early in the process.

    I haven't heard anything about how the process will work for selection of the next Director.

  3. Anonymous2:04 AM

    Yes, thus the reason for the Administration's silence. Obama is so busy coming up with, and directing so many "czars," he hasn't had time to consider if Mark would play ball with his communistic attack on our freedoms. Rest assured, that "comprehensive water census" is not only going to have Washingtonians at your doorstep measuring your water use, but Obama sees this as one more area to implement a new Al Gorish fee, like the utility fees on your phones bill. Except this fee, for people with a well in the country is going to force most of us right off our land.Better wake up soon folks. People don't realize just how important it is for obama to have a communist czar in positions that are generally held as non-political.Its just a whole other Government deployed militia in fancy utility trucks with hands free "red" cell phones dispatched from the Oval office. I think "FISHY" is the word here.