California Department of Fish and Wildlife

Strategic Initiative 7: Expand Scientific Capacity

Purpose

  • Strategy 1: Internal coordination
  • Strategy 2: Scientific oversight
  • Strategy 3: Scientific staff development and classification
  • Strategy 4: DFG data management

The Expanded Scientific Capacity Strategic Initiative is intended to more fully recognize existing DFG programs that generate or utilize primary science and apply this science as part of management, conservation, and public trust responsibilities. It is also intended to improve internal peer review and consolidation of science programs and functions, increase investments in science-based decision making, and create incentives for DFG scientists to participate in the peer review and scientific publication process.

This initiative recognizes that improvements in internal communication, access and awareness among the various DFG scientific programs and their staff are necessary. Because of the diversity of scientific units and projects within DFG as well as organizational and geographic/physical separation, we at times lack sufficient awareness of scientific efforts and experts within DFG.

We also recognize the need to establish consistent standards and practices and inclusion of the most current and effective scientific methods as they apply to our programs. This includes providing clear expectations of scientific excellence in our work products and creation of internal structures and processes that support these expectations.

DFG must invest in retaining, developing and recruiting high quality scientists in order to ensure that DFG’s actions and policies are supported by the strongest possible scientific foundation. Currently, the Office of Training and Development within DFG has an Advisory Committee for the Scientific Community Development Program. The goals and workplan of that committee need to be supported and implemented. This includes creating a regular science conference for DFG scientific and technical staff.

Future Implementation

In 2007, the department staff with input from others outside the department, considered the need to enhance our internal science capacity. After significant analysis, the following steps were identified to accomplish the goals set out in Initiative 7, DFG must:

  1. Complete the database of scientific employees, their focus, studies, and current research and monitoring activities taking place. Better communicate scientific activities to DFG staff, including a scientific newsletter.
  2. Create a Resource and Population Assessment Program team to conduct population modeling for either aquatic or terrestrial animal populations, and provide the lead for all such assessments conducted by DFG. This team would maintain strong ties to academic and non-governmental researchers, and with counterparts in the other state and federal agencies. One facet of their work would be training/mentoring other DFG staff who contribute to their assessment work as co-authors and data providers.
  3. Utilize existing policy (modeled after the Interagency Ecological Program) on the minimum standards for any scientific work, establish a research branch, establish an independent science panel for high priority department issues and establish a mechanism for facilitating peer review.
  4. Maintain and develop new resources to support research within DFG on though collaborating agencies and organizations.
  5. Use new classifications to attract and retain high caliber candidates and technical experts. The salaries for these classifications are competitive and will allow DFG to compete for, and retain, well qualified scientists.
  6. Formally establish recruiting pathways with the University of California and California State University systems. Work with department heads and professors to engage graduate students to study issues of interest to DFG. Upon earning advanced degrees, those individuals could access an inner track for employment with DFG.
  7. Encourage DFG scientific staff to collaborating outside scientists.
  8. Provide a mechanism (time and support) for existing DFG scientists to complete advanced degrees through their Individual Development Plans.
  9. Clarify and publish data collection and storage policies and guidelines. Define the data dissemination process. Develop the system capacity to store and make available DFG data. Evaluate DFG capacity for sustaining current data programs, and identified data program needs and develop a plan for upgrading or enhancing capacity to meet data demands.
  10. Find ways to partner in recruitment of experts. Highly qualified scientists, especially Ph.D.s do not always plan years in advance to work for DFG, but apply when a position becomes available. The state hiring process precludes these experts from working for DFG. Partnerships or contracting with other organizations on hiring and salary could circumvent the process by accessing these individuals without hiring them on as official DFG staff.