The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has adapted to the changing political, economic, and technical state of the nation and the world since it was established in the late nineteenth century. Over a period of more than 120 years, the USGS has evolved from a small group of scientists who collected data and provided guidance on how to parcel, manage, and use the public lands of the West to an agency comprised of thousands of scientists who conduct research and assessment activities on complex scientific issues at scales ranging from the local to the global. The USGS will no doubt continue to evolve and adapt to meet changing national needs. In fact, the recent integration of the National Biological Service and parts of the U.S. Bureau of Mines into the USGS presents an ideal opportunity to examine the agency's vision, mission, role, and scientific opportunities as the organization begins the early years of the twenty-first century. The USGS recognized the need to adapt to changing demands when it asked the National Research Council (NRC) to undertake this study. The NRC formed a multidisciplinary committee of 16 experts to address issues related to the future roles, challenges, and opportunities of the agency.