Independent Panel Concurs on Excellence of the Institutes

The Water Resources Research Act requires that the Secretary of the Interior conduct a "careful and detailed evaluation" of each institute at least once every five years to determine its eligibility to continue receiving funds. In 2010, detailed evaluations of all 54 institutes were conducted by an independent panel appointed by the U.S. Geological Survey.

The panel found that "the vast majority of Institutes are strong and distinguished."

"There are more Institutes performing in excellent or outstanding fashion than in the previous [1999] review."

"The Institutes in the top three quintiles were stronger in this review than in the previous review."

The panel found that the key elements of the strongest institutes were:

"The willingness of the State or host University to provide significant levels of support, including most specifically, discretionary financial support," and "Strong leadership on the part of the Director."

The review panel found that the "institute program, with its federal-state matching requirement, is an important and significant part of the nation's water resources research infrastructure. The program garners significant funding leverage for the modest federal appropriation that supports it..... The program does well at attracting young scientists to the water resources field. This is very important as we enter a period in which there will be a disproportionate number of retirements in all sectors. The program also embodies an effective information clearing-house and fosters significant opportunities for multidisciplinary research on all aspects of water resources and water management."