For someone coming from the outside to take a position with the federal government, one of the biggest challenges is understanding your mission and how it fits into the grand scheme of things. But coming to the U.S. Geological Survey's (USGS) Earthquake Hazards Program, the task is made quite a bit simpler because the prime directive has been clearly set by Congress. Along with its three partners in the National Earthquake Hazard Reduction Program (NEHRP), USGS shares a congressional mandate to develop “effective measures for earthquake hazards reduction”, promote their adoption, and “improve the understanding of earthquakes and their effects...

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