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Natural Resources Conservation Service

FGDC Annual Report to OMB


1. Agency or Bureau: Natural Resources Conservation Service


Name of Contact for Report:
Email Address:
Phone #:
Christine Clarke


Steering Committee Member:
Email Address:
Phone #:
Mack Gray



Coordination Group Participant(s):
Email Address:
Phone #:
Christine Clarke
Greg Johnson, Chair
Jeff Goebel, Chair
Jim Fortner, Chair

5. Subcommittee or Working Group Participation: Subcommittees or Working Groups in which your agency is actively involved, but does not lead: (NOTE: Active is defined as those staff who attend meetings when convened. - NRCS)

Working Groups
Base Cartographic
Biological data
Federal Geodetic Control
Earth Cover
Spatial Water
SIMNRE - lead
Spatial Climate - lead
Soils - lead


6. Goals and Accountability: Are you using spatial data with regard to performance?

  • Yes, see and for NRCS implementation of the Performance and Results Measurement System and Integrated Accountability System. Both use geospatial data as a critical component.
  1. List agency GPRA strategic plan goals specifically related to spatial data activities:
  • Goal 4, Objective 3: 2,800 soil surveys available in digital form by 2008. Geospatial data are not specifically mentioned in any of the four NRCS GPRA Goals but stated within the objectives. NRCS views spatial data and GIS as one of many tools to accomplish our program missions and technical needs. Within each of the four GPRA goals are many individual geospatial data collection, maintenance and delivery efforts which are assumed to be a natural extension of our mandated mission and goals, the majority of which are land based and hence geospatial. Examples are available upon request. The NRCS five year Strategic plan is available at
  • Goal 1 - Enhance natural resource productivity to enable a strong agricultural and natural resource sector.
  • Goal 2 - Reduce unintended adverse effects of natural resource development and use to ensure a high quality environment.
  • Goal 3 - Reduce risks from drought and flooding to protect individual and community health and safety.
  • Goal 4 - Deliver high quality services to the public to enable natural resource stewardship. Objective 3 - 2,800 soil surveys available in digital form by 2008.
  1. List agency GPRA performance measures specifically related to spatial data activities (Note: measures listed rely heavily on the use and application of spatial data to develop plans, document accomplishments, develop short/long term strategies and share results with partners and customers - NRCS)
  • By 2008, a total of 2,800 soil surveys will be available in digital form, making interpretation of soil survey information easily accessible to our customers, partners and other users.
  • By 2005, 89 percent of the annual conservation need on cropland will be met - 20 million acres will be treated each year to protect their quality and ensure long-term productivity.
  • By 2005, 85 percent of the annual conservation need for irrigation water management will be met - 6 million acres treated each year to apply irrigation water management to improve water use and protect soil and water quality.
  • By 2005, 95 percent of the annual conservation need on rangeland will be met - 32 million acres of rangeland will be treated each year to protect quality and ensure long-term productivity.
  • By 2005, 100 percent of the annual conservation need on pastureland will be met - 8 million acres of pastureland will be treated each year to protect their quality and ensure long term productivity.
  • By 2005, 81 percent of the annual conservation need on forestland will be met - 10 million acres of forestland will be treated annually to protect their quality and ensure long-term productivity.
  • By 2005, 90 percent of all counties will have land evaluation and site assessment (LESA) systems developed and placed on the States list of approved systems.
  • By 2005, 2,000 communities will have been assisted in preparing natural resource plans to address farmland protection, erosion, and sedimentation from development sites, stormwater management, or natural resources protection.
  • By 2005, 500 communities will have implemented natural resources plans to address farmland protection, erosion and sedimentation from developed sites, stormwater management, or natural resource protection.
  • By 2005, an additional 2 million acres (555,000 miles) of buffers will be installed to help reduce the movement of potential pollutants into water and air resources.
  • By 2009, 272,600 animal feeding operations (AFO) will have been assisted to develop certified nutrient management plans (CNMP).
  • By 2005, 82 percent of the annual conservation need for wetlands and fish and wildlife habitat will be met - 7.6 million acres will be treated annually to maintain and enhance locally and regionally important fish and wildlife populations.
  • By 2005, wetlands will be maintained, restored or enhanced to meet the "no net loss" goal.
  • By 2010, conservation plans will be developed and implementations begun to rehabilitate or decommission 2,200 watershed structures that have reached or are near the end of their design life.
  • By 2005, the conservation partnership will provide drought risk information on a regular basis, education, and decision support assistance to 500 drought prone areas including Indian reservations.

7. Strategy: Has your agency prepared a strategy for advancing geographic information and spatial data activities in coordination with the FGDC strategy, pursuant to Circular A-16?

  • Yes, the combined USDA Service Center Agencies (NRCS, RD, FSA), developed a geospatial data development strategy in 1998 and the document is presently under revision. It outlines timelines for critical data completion, funding requirements and technical standards. 1998 publication available at
  • Estimated availability of revision, November 2001.

8. Standards: Has your agency developed and/or adopted appropriate standards?

  • Yes, where available FGDC standards or other recognized national and international standards are used. If standards do not exist or are unique to internal USDA/NRCS needs, they are developed and made available to the larger geospatial community. See for USDA Service Center and NRCS data management efforts. Standard file naming conventions, formats and the like have been developed to support the delivery of desktop GIS tools to the USDA Field Service Center Agencies which consist of NRCS, Farm Service Agency and Rural Development. The primary software application deployed is the Customer Service Toolkit, which utilizes GIS technology. More information available at

9. Metadata: Is your agency's metadata and/or data available and discoverable online through an NSDI-compatible clearinghouse node registered as part of the NSDI Clearinghouse Network?

  • Yes, NRCS NSDI node is available at
  • NRCS and Service Center Agencies have an additional data delivery mechanism, which can be viewed at This developmental effort delivers integrated seamless data to our customers. The target customer is the non-specialist GIS community including field staff who use GIS as a tool to support their daily program needs and prefer to focus on conservation and land management issues rather than GIS technologies. This is a long-term effort and data are posted when available.

10. Vertical and Horizontal Data Integration: Is your data integratable with other Federal agencies and other sources of data (State, County, local, private)?

  • Yes, where nationally recognized standards exist, they are used and metadata collected and archived. Though data can be integrated, vertical misalignment may occur from variations in imagery acquisition dates, scale and the like. This is a common challenge in the GIS community. Data use limitations and technical contact references are included in all metatdata. Field office staff are provided with integrated datasets for use with the Customer Service Toolkit.

11. E-Gov: How are you using geospatial data in your mission activities to provide better services?

  • Geospatial data supports regional and national level policy analysis and strategic planning which in turn supports the agency efforts to allocate resources. Examples can be found at and
  • Geospatial data are a critical component of the Performance Review Management System (PRMS) which supports the agency accountability efforts. Using this tool, NRCS mission components can be evaluated geographically and workforce impacts and future needs estimated.
  • NRCS allows internal and external customers to order digital geospatial data via the Internet from or access data via the NSDI node. This data warehouse will support the access to non-sensitive data 24x7, regardless of physical location.
  • GIS and geospatial data are used widely at the field level by staff who interact directly with landowners and managers to assist in conservation planning. Offices having GIS software, hardware and data are able to support applications ranging from soil mapping to conservation structure development and the process is expedited with the availability of these tools. Presently, data availability is the limiting factor.
  • Additional information available upon request.

12. Are there areas or issues regarding spatial data that require attention, or lessons-learned that you would like to share with others?

Lessons willing to share:

  • NRCS and Service Center efforts have been posted on the Internet with the sole intention of sharing with the larger geospatial community. An extensive listing of documents and URLs are available upon request, several of these sites have been included in this document.
  • Cooperative partnerships with a variety of local, state and non-profit groups interested in natural resource management. Cooperative funding strategies and the like.
  • The Service Center Agencies total some 2,600 individual field locations around the country. In FY02, the vast majority of these offices will have fully functional GIS environments but may lack some thematic data requirements. There are presently and will continue to be many lessons from this effort to share with all.
  • Use and application of geospatial data in performance tracking, strategic planning.
  • Use and application of soils data.
  • Strategies for the development of critical national data layers to support field applications.
  • Automation of business process and incorporation of geospatial data to take full advantage of GIS technology.
  • Any and all information from the three efforts outlined in Part B of this report.

Requiring attention:

  • Specific models of multi-tier data development and cooperation need to be documented and shared with the wider community. For example, how a multi-resolution, multi-temporal national hydrology dataset will evolve with input from local, state and federal cooperators. The National Cooperative Soil Survey Program has a successful model for a cooperative partnership of data collection and distribution. It is multi-resolution and multi-temporal but older surveys are not vertically integrated across political boundaries. Models for such an effort are needed since much of the funding is distributed and managed on a statewide basis.
  • There are minimal incentives for cross-agency cooperation since budget allocations are specifically linked to individual agency accomplishments. This tends to limit the potential for cooperation since few short-term tangible products are evident from cooperation. There needs to be a value associated with cooperation and partnership development.
  • Alternative performance measures of agencies engaged in long-term data development strategies are needed. Digital data development for national programs such as the National Cooperative Soil Survey take years to complete. Considerable efforts are expended yearly to ensure future funding which is not always stable.
  • A multitude of geospatial coordinating efforts, standards bodies and consortiums have developed in the last several years with the intention of expediting digital data generation, availability and application. The relationship between these efforts needs to be clearly conveyed in order to strengthen our collaborative efforts rather than splinter them.
Last Updated: Jan 19, 2006 03:07 PM
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