Frequently Asked Questions

About USGS

The USGS is the Nation's largest water, earth, and biological science and civilian mapping agency. We provide science about natural resource conditions and problems.

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Examining sediment core
No. The USGS Organic Act (43 U.S. Code § 31) prohibits the USGS from making surveys or examinations for private parties or corporations. On rare occasion, however, the USGS might request access to private property as part of a larger study. If you need to engage a professional land surveyor, hydrologist, geologist, or geotechnical engineer, the...
The USGS (United States Geological Survey) is a science bureau within the United States Department of the Interior. The USGS provides science about the natural hazards that threaten lives and livelihoods; the water, energy, minerals, and other natural resources we rely on; the health of our ecosystems and environment; and the impacts of climate...
USGS scientists sample a soil core for stable-isotope analyses, Amargosa Desert, Nevada
Unsolicited proposals for both research and research-related awards are a valuable means for the USGS to obtain innovative methods or approaches from outside the government to accomplish our mission. In order to be considered, proposals must: Be innovative and unique Be independently derived and developed (prepared without government supervision)...
Image: Equipment Installation
As an agency of the United States federal government, the USGS must follow Federal Acquisition Regulations when purchasing or leasing any type of equipment or contracting for services. We are required to use competitive sourcing. Please visit our Acquisitions and Grants website to learn about how to do business with the USGS.
Screenshot of USGS website showing list of partner organizations
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) is a bureau within the U.S. Department of the Interior. Per Department of the Interior policy, the USGS does not provide links to organizations outside the federal government unless they are official research partners of the USGS. 
A USGS scientist installs a storm tide sensor for Hurricane Rita, which struck less than a month after Hurricane Katrina.
When conducting research on private property, United States Geological Survey (USGS) employees must comply with State and Tribal laws, including trespassing and privacy laws. USGS employees are required to obtain written permission from the landowner when conducting new research and must make the data available at the landowner's request.
Image: Earth Science Day outreach in Rapid City, SD, 2014
The USGS has offices in every state, but education is not part of our mission and we do not have employees who go into the classroom as part of their job. Some employees, however, are willing to do so on their own time. If there is a USGS office in your town, you can try contacting them to ask about a speaker or presenter.
Image: Map Sales and Publications Office
Yes. Educational institutions qualify for discounts on purchases made through the online USGS Store. To receive any discounts you must first be set up in their system. Please fax your request on school letterhead (or on a purchase order) to 303-202-4693 and include your Federal Tax ID number (not to be confused with your Federal Tax Exempt Number...
Photo of a USGS scientist helping students paint Caspian tern decoys
With rare exception, the USGS does not post information or materials unless they are produced in partnership with our agency. You might be able to find a USGS scientist who is interested in working with you to develop a lesson plan, in which case it could become an official USGS product. For more information, contact our Youth and Education in...
Image: Treasures of the USGS Library: Rare Book Room
The USGS has the largest earth science library in the world. The Libraries Program includes central libraries in Reston, Virginia and Denver, Colorado along with small, topic-specific libraries in science centers scattered around the country. For assistance with library resources, send an email to or call 703-648-4301. Holdings...
Image: Science Teachers Explore Mount Rainier
The USGS does not have a formal program for teacher workshops, but USGS scientists sometimes participate in teacher workshops that are organized by universities or other education groups. Our USGS Education website lists both resources for use in the classroom and easily-understood resources that teachers can use to educate themselves.  
Image: Outreach at Geology Camp 2008
The USGS Education website is your gateway to classroom resources. Explore links to lesson plans, activities, educational videos, online lectures, posters, non-technical publications, and images for kindergarten through college. This site is an excellent resource for teachers, students, and anyone interested in learning. Our resources are...