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Regulations, Directives, Policies and Guidelines
And their Relation to NPS Geographic Information Systems

Table of Contents:

    National Park Service GIS
    NPS Geospatial Data Policies and Standards
Regulation, Directive, Policy, or Guideline Relation to NPS Geographic Information Systems

Organizational Charts

Department of Interior Organization Chart
National Park Service 2003 Organization Chart
National Information Systems Center Organization Chart

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OMB Circular No. A-16 Revised: August 19, 2002

This Circular provides direction for federal agencies that produce, maintain or use spatial data either directly or indirectly in the fulfillment of their mission. This Circular establishes a coordinated approach to electronically develop the National Spatial Data Infrastructure and establishes the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC).

The Circular has been revised from the 1990 version to reflect changes in technology, further describe the components of the National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI), and assign agency roles and responsibilities for development of the NSDI. The revised Circular names the Deputy Director for Management of OMB as Vice-Chair of the Federal Geographic Data Committee.

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Note: NPS is a lead on the Cultural Resources Data theme. Cultural Resources is defined below.

Cultural Resources: DOI, National Park Service

The cultural resources theme includes historic places such as districts, sites, buildings, and structures of significance in history, architecture, engineering, or culture. Cultural resources also encompass prehistoric features as well as historic landscapes.

Federal Geographic Data Committee Standards

The FGDC develops geospatial data standards for implementing the NSDI, in consultation and cooperation with State, local, and tribal governments, the private sector and academic community, and, to the extent feasible, the international community. Federal Geographic Data Committee

Below is a listing of FGDC Standards and Links:

    Geospatial Standard (Article 1 of 4)
    This article will discuss what geospatial standards are and why they matter, identify major standards organizations, and list the characteristics of successful geospatial standards.

    FGDC Endorsed Standards
    This link will provide information on the FGDC endorsed standards and their distribution policy.

    Content Status and Link to FGDC Standards
    This link will provide FGDC Standards and their status within the development process from Proposal Stage, Draft Stage, Review Stage to Final Stage - FGDC Endorsed Standards.


      Final Stage - FGDC Endorsed Standards

      • Content Standard for Digital Geospatial Metadata (version 2.0), FGDC-STD-001-1998
      • Content Standard for Digital Geospatial Metadata, Part 1: Biological Data Profile, FGDC-STD-001.1-1999
      • Metadata Profile for Shoreline Data, FGDC-STD-001.2-2001
      • Spatial Data Transfer Standard (SDTS), FGDC-STD-002 (a modified version was adopted as ANSI NCITS 320:1998)
      • Spatial Data Transfer Standard (SDTS), Part 5: Raster Profile and Extensions, FGDC-STD-002.5
      • Spatial Data Transfer Standard (SDTS), Part 6: Point Profile, FGDC-STD-002.6
      • SDTS Part 7: Computer-Aided Design and Drafting (CADD) Profile, FGDC-STD-002.7-2000
      • Cadastral Data Content Standard, FGDC-STD-003
      • Classification of Wetlands and Deepwater Habitats of the United States, FGDC-STD-004
      • Vegetation Classification Standard, FGDC-STD-005
      • Soil Geographic Data Standard, FGDC-STD-006
      • Geospatial Positioning Accuracy Standard, Part 1, Reporting Methodology, FGDC-STD-007.1-1998
      • Geospatial Positioning Accuracy Standard, Part 2, Geodetic Control Networks, FGDC-STD-007.2-1998
      • Geospatial Positioning Accuracy Standard, Part 3, National Standard for Spatial Data Accuracy, FGDC-STD-007.3-1998
      • Geospatial Positioning Accuracy Standard, Part 4: Architecture, Engineering Construction and Facilities Management, FGDC-STD-007.4-2002
      • Content Standard for Digital Orthoimagery, FGDC-STD-008-1999
      • Content Standard for Remote Sensing Swath Data, FGDC-STD-009-1999
      • Utilities Data Content Standard, FGDC-STD-010-2000
      • U.S. National Grid, FGDC-STD-011-2001
      • Content Standard for Digital Geospatial Metadata: Extensions for Remote Sensing Metadata, FGDC-STD-012-2002
      ------------------------------------------------------------ Review Stage
      Completed Public Review
      • Content Standard for Framework Land Elevation Data
      • Digital Cartographic Standard for Geologic Map Symbolization
      • Facility ID Data Standard
      • Geospatial Positioning Accuracy Standard, Part 5: Standard for Hydrographic Surveys and Nautical Charts
      • Hydrographic Data Content Standard for Coastal and Inland Waterways
      • NSDI Framework Transportation Identification Standard
      Out for Public Review
      Note: "(month date, year)" indicates closing date for public review.
      • Address Content Standard (July 31, 2003)
      In Review by SWG Prior to Public Review

      Draft Stage

      • Earth Cover Classification System
      • Encoding Standard for Geospatial Metadata
      • Geologic Data Model
      • Governmental Unit Boundary Data Content Standard
      • Biological Nomenclature and Taxonomy Data Standard

      Proposal Stage

      • FGDC Profile(s) of ISO 19115, Geographic information - Metadata - suspended. Work underway by NCITS L1 to develop a national metadata standard.
      • Federal Standards for Delineation of Hydrologic Unit Boundaries
      • National Hydrography Framework Geospatial Data Content Standard
      • National Standards for the Floristic Levels of Vegetation Classification in the United States: Associations and Alliances
      • Revisions to the National Standards for the Physiognomic Levels of Vegetation Classification in the United States: Federal Geographic Data Committee Vegetation Classification Standards, FGDC-STD-005, October 1997
      • Riparian Mapping Standard

      Discontinued from FGDC Standards Process
      (by notice of FGDC Subcommittee or Working Group)

      • Metadata Profile for Cultural and Demographic Data (draft stage)
      • Environmental Hazards Geospatial Data Content Standard (draft stage)
      • Transportation Data Content Standard (proposal stage)
      FGDC, USGS, 590 National Center, Reston, VA 20192
      URL: /standards/status/textstatus.html
      Updated: Friday, 02-May-2003 14:21:35 EDT

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FGDC Policy Statements for Federal Geographic Data Sharing: Data managers have a responsibility to plan for information resources management as an integral part of overall mission planning. Federal, national and international standards shall be used to the greatest extent for data content, processing, and dissemination of data sets. NPS, like all Federal Agencies, must make data available and accessible to Federal users and the general public at an equitable cost not to exced the cost of distribution.

OMB Circular No. A-130 Revised, (Transmittal Memorandum No. 4)

This Circular establishes policy for the management of Federal information resources. OMB includes procedural and analytic guidelines for implementing specific aspects of these policies as appendices.

A-130 implements provisions of the Paperwork Reduction Act (U.S.C. 44), as well as other statutes, Executive Orders and policies concerning general information policy, information technology, privacy and maintenance of Federal records.

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The Federal Government is the largest single producer, collector, consumer, and disseminator of information in the United States. Because of the extent of the government's information activities, and the dependence of those activities upon public cooperation, the management of Federal information resources is an issue of continuing importance to all Federal agencies, State and local governments, and the public.

Please read A-130 further for Agency responsibilities.

Clinger/Cohen Act of 1996, formerly the Information Technology Management Reform Act

Please Note this version only contains Division E--INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY MANAGEMENT REFORM ACT (Now the Clinger/Cohen Act)

An Act To authorize appropriations for fiscal year 1996 for militaryactivities of the Department of Defense, for military construction,and for defense activities of the Department of Energy, to prescribe personnel strengths for such fiscal year for the ArmedForces, to reform acquisition laws and information technology management of the Federal Government, and for other purposes.

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The Clinger-Cohen Act supplements the information resources management policies contained in the PRA (Paperwork Reduction Act 1980) by establishing a comprehensive approach for executive agencies to improve the acquisition and management of their information resources, by:

  1. focusing information resource planning to support their strategic missions;implementing a capital planning and investment control process that links to budget formulation and execution; and
  2. rethinking and restructuring the way they do their work before investing in information systems.

The PRA establishes a broad mandate for agencies to perform their information resources management activities in an efficient, effective, and economical manner. To assist agencies in an integrated approach to information resources management, the PRA requires that the Director of OMB develop and implement uniform and consistent information resources management policies; oversee the development and promote the use of information management principles, standards, and guidelines; evaluate agency information resources management practices in order to determine their adequacy and efficiency; and determine compliance of such practices with the policies, principles, standards, and guidelines promulgated by the Director.

Interior Enterprise Architecture

Chapter 5: Geospatial Technologies Architecture Version 1.0

The focus of the Interior Enterprise Architecture is on providing guidance for IT issues and initiatives that are Interior-wide or multi-bureau in scope. The Geospatial technologies architecture defines the technologies, standards and guidelines that relate to the use and sharing of data that can be referenced geographically. It includes anymapping activities such as geographic information systems (GIS), global positioning systems (GPS), aerial photography, surveyor data, remote sensing & imaging (e.g., satellite), planetary GIS, spatial modeling, visualization, Geospatial mapping products of Computer Aided Drafting/Design (CAD), and "any data tied to a location".

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If used correctly, the Interior Enterprise Architecture will act as a catalyst for those looking to capitalize on its contents and better understand the full meaning of its guidance...
The Interior Enterprise Architecture is not intended to bethe "last word" (e.g., some automated checklist for product selection). It is intended to be one of the "first words" to assure that Interior s mission priorities and its IT priorities remain closely aligned.

Executive Order 12906

Coordinating Geographic Data Acquisition and Access: The National Spatial Data Infrastructure

Geographic information is critical to promote economicdevelopment, improve our stewardship of natural resources,and protect the environment. Modern technology now permitsimproved acquisition, distribution, and utilization ofgeographic (or geospatial) data and mapping. The NationalPerformance Review has recommended that the executive branchdevelop, in cooperation with State, local, and tribalgovernments, and the private sector, a coordinated NationalSpatial Data Infrastructure to support public and private sectorapplications of geospatial data in such areas as transportation,community development, agriculture, emergency response,environmental management, and information technology.

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Executive Order 12906 calls for the establishment of the National Spatial Data Infrastructure defined as the technologies, policies, and people necessary to promote sharing of geospatial data throughout all levels of government, the private and non-profit sectors, and the academic community.

National Park Service Standards Manual, Revised August 1996


The National Park Service Information and Telecommunications Division last published Information Resources Management (IRM) standards in 1990, and they have become outdated. The NPS IRM Standards Committee met in April 1996 to discuss updates to the standards.
In recognition of the rapid rate at which computer systems become outdated, they agreed that the new IRM standards would set goals for automation modernization rather than documenting the current state of computer hardware and software in use throughout the Service.

Additional Revisions:

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This 1996 update to the NPS IRM Standards Manual is designed to guide decisions on procurement throughout the Service. It should support the procurement offices in their purchasing and give guidance to the information systems staff in planning system upgrades and modernization. The standards are effective immediately, but are only relevant when new procurements are being considered. That is, the standards do not mandate the procurement of new systems, but are to be used to guide new purchase decisions when a park or office needs to upgrade and has the funds to do so.

Chapters directly relating to Geographic Information Systems include:

    Chapter V-1, GIS Spatial Data Standards
    Chapter V-2, GIS Operating System Software
    Chapter V-3, GIS Application Software

National Parks Omnibus Management Act of 1998
National Park Omnibus Management Act of 1998


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Sec. 207. Confidentiality of Information
Information concerning the nature and specific location of a National Park System resource which is endangered, threatened, rare, or commercially valuable, of mineral or paleontological objects within units of the National Park System, or of objects of cultural patrimony within units of the National Park System, may be withheld from the public in response to a request under section 552 of Title 5 USC, unless the Secretary determines that---

    (1) Disclosure of the information would further the purposes of the unit of the National Park System in which the resource or object is located and would not create an unreasonable risk of harm, theft, or destruction of the resource or object, including individual organic or inorganic specimens; and
    (2) Disclosure is consistent with other applicable laws protecting the resource or object.

DOI, Interior Geographic Data Committee (IGDC)

The Interior Geographic Data Committee (IGDC) was formed in 1991 in an effort to update and enhance the Department of Interior's internal spatial data coordination and to provide leadership for the expanding spatial data process in support of the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC). The IGDC is responsible for:

  • Advising and assisting the Secretary of the Interior in developing and implementing policies and strategies to reduce duplication in spatial geographic data development, and to promote technology transfer and data exchange;
  • Coordinating the development, use, sharing, and dissemination of surveying, mapping and related spatial data within the DOI;
  • Providing a focal point on the Department's surveying, mapping, an related spatial data activities for the FGDC and other Federal entities;
  • Coordinating Bureau viewpoints on surveying, mapping, and related spatial data issues;
  • Coordinating the planning and development of spatial data technologies research (e.g. geographic information systems and remote sensing) within the DOI;
  • The IGDC provides a means of keeping the Department of Interior Bureaus informed of activities of the FGDC.

The IGDC is comprised of representatives from the U.S. Geological Survey; Bureaus of Indian Affairs, Land Management, Mines and Reclamation; the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; The Mineral Management Service; the National Park Service; the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement; the Department offices of Information Resources Management, and Program Analysis; and the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Territorial and International Affairs.

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The DOI Mapping/GIS Implementation Plan of 1992 established a DOI clearinghouse of information about existing geographic data; establishes, adopts, and implements metadata standards; promotes producing high priority digital base cartographic data; establishes, adopts and implements data content standards; and utilizes existing cst effective DOI or inter-bureau contracts for digitizing map data whenever possible.

For more information please contact:
Jennifer Sieverling of the USGS at or
Leslie Armstrong of NPS at


DRAFT Exhibit 300 for the Interior Enterprise Geographic Information Management (I-EGIM)

In 2002, the Enterprise GIS workgroup was established to address DOI GIS budgets, contracts, planning, training and outreach.

Enterprise GIS (EGIS) is a strategic objective with multiple dimensions. The details of how this strategic objective is met will be determined during a needs assessment and requirements analysis planned for FY 03. With the use of a structured methodology we will identify the dimensions and define a roadmap of how the objective can be achieved.
The vision and essence of the DOI Enterprise GIS initiative is to allow people to access, examine, and analyze geographically-referenced information, and to do so in an easier and more uniform fashion than is currently possible.

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National Park Service GIS

GIS Exhibit 300-1, April 2003

NPS GIS Program/I-Enterprise Geospatial Info. Management

This project profile describes the NPS GIS Program which is managed by the OCIO and the GIS Committee (GISC), a group of 20 that includes regional, program and OCIO representatives. The GIS infrastructure was developed in 1991 when 9 regional GIS technical support centers were co-funded by a new initiative in the NPS Natural Resources Program. In addition some program offices also have GIS centers to support specific goals such as the cultural resources GIS office that has supported state heritage efforts, civil and revolutionary war battlefield preservation studies. New technology and the widespread use of GIS at 1200 sites across the NPS require a new enterprise business model, geodatabase development, and enhanced infrastructure.

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NPS GIS Strategic Plan for FY 2002-2005

Strategic Plan

NPS GIS Mission Statement: The NPS uses the mapping and other spatial information tools that support the management and planning activities of the National Park Service in carrying out its mission. The GIS Program implements and supports these technologies as a servicewide model for all NPS information systems and the analysis of complex issues that characterize National Park management.

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GIS Planning Guidelines
This document should be used to create a formal GIS plan for park units. Directions to complete this plan are highlighted in yellow, and should be deleted once completed. Standard text that should be included in the final draft of this plan is included in normal font. The Regional GIS Support Office can help the park to develop this plan.

Geographic Information Systems Committee

GISC Website

The purpose of the GIS Committee is to provide strategic leadership for the National Park Service (NPS) GIS Program. This will include implementation of GIS, information systems and related technology plans, providing direction on policy, programs, initiatives, funding priorities, organizational needs, as well as coordinating GIS activities among parks, regions, and program areas.

Please read the GIS Committee Charter for more information on the roles and functions of the GISC.

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The Geographic Information Systems Committee is not an approved Charter. Members of the GISC have been meeting since 2001 and notes are available on the GISC webpage.

SmartBuy Agreement, DOI and ESRI

The ESRI SmartBuy aggreement gives the Department of Interior unlimited use of the ArcGIS suite of licenses, in addition to several other licenses. The SmartBuy for software and maintenance is a contract that is effective through FY'08, covers 8 bureaus, Interior staff offices, and federally recognized tribal governments.

For questions on the ESRI SmartBuy please contact Mark Negri,, 703.648.5613.
For NPS, bureau support contact David Duran,, 303.969.2176.

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Note: The National Park Service has over 1000 GIS Users. ESRI software products are the standard for NPS and for the Department of Interior.

NPS Geospatial Data Policies and Standards

NPS Data and Systems Stewardship Policy

The National Park Service (NPS) will use current data, metadata, and software standards, life cycle management, as mandated by federal, DOI, and NPS directives for information and system development and management. Because 80 - 90% of NPS data is spatial or can be related to a geographic location, Federal Geographic Data ommittee (FGDC) data and content standards for metadata and NPS geographic information systems (GIS) guidelines should be implemented consistently to promote enterprise data access and use. Spatial information and systems enhance e-gov initiatives, make NPS information and services more useful to citizens, NPS operations, support decision making, and enhance reporting to Congress.

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National Datasets Structure

TheNational Dataset and Information Table provides the structure of all national datasets which have been posted to the GIS Clearinghouse. The table provides a brief description of each theme as well as the attributes being collected.

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Field Data Collection with Global Positioning SystemsStandard Operating Procedures and GuidelinesJune 5, 2002

GPS Field Collection (as 60Kb WORD file)

The purpose of this document is to address instrument settings, field operation, and data processing for GPS data collection and to make recommendations for standards in recording of positional data.

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Posting Digital Geospatial Data to the NPS GIS Data Clearinghouse

Data Clearinghouse Guidelines and help documentation

All metadata must comply with the Federal Geographic Data Committee's (FGDC) "Content Standards for Digital Geospatial Metadata." For further discussion on FGDC metadata compliance, refer to the FGDC web page.

NPS Integrated Metadata System Plan for Spatial and Natural Resource Data Sets
On January 4-5, 2001, NPS staff and cooperators from the Information Telecommunications Division (ITC), Natural Resource Inventory and Monitoring (I&M) Program, and North Carolina State University (NCSU) met and discussed the current status of the NPS GIS Metadata Clearinghouse and future plans for an integrated, NPS-wide metadata database and clearinghouse metadata system. View PDF.

For more information on metadata please visit the Data and Informatio - Metadata webpage hosted on the NPS GIS website.

The NPS Intermountain Region also provides helpful Tips and Templates for metadata creation.

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National Park Service (NPS) employees must create or have metadata created for each GIS data layer or theme that is created by park employees or by a park's contractor, cooperator or partner. The best time to create metadata is during spatial data creation, when the producer has the most information about the data.

Natural Resource Guidelines

GIS Standards and Recommendations
Vegetation Mapping Standards

NPS Geology-GIS Data Model for Digital Geologic Maps
In conjunction with the Geologic Resources Inventory of NPS units, the Inventory and Monitoring Program and Geologic Resources Division have developed a standard GIS data model for digital geologic maps. A main focus of the inventory is to acquire and digitize geologic maps for each unit with significant natural resources.

GIS (Geographic Information System) Data Specificationsfor Resource Mapping, Inventories, and Studies
Resource Management (RM) and Inventory and Monitoring (I&M) projects and activities generate both spatial and tabular data sets. These data sets will be incorporated into park, regional, and national databases and made available to a wide range of users. In order for this to occur effectively, certain standards and product specifications must be followed. This document provides general standards for spatial data collection and submission. Park-, network-, region-, and program-level project managers may require further specifications and must approve any deviation from these standards.

Guidelines for Biological Inventories
The Guidelines for Biological Inventories documents the approach to designing and implementing the Biological Inventories Project.

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