LEAD FEDERAL AGENCY/BUREAU AND/OR SUBCOMMITTEE/WORKING GROUP REPORT (Agencies With Lead Responsibilities Assigned under Current Circular A-16 Authorities)
1. Program/Activity Name:
Soils Subcommittee - NRCS Chair, Jim R. Fortner
2. What are the programs this data supports?
- Supports the NRCS mission to assist private landowners in the wise use of natural resources to minimize soil erosion and ensure the long-term health of the land.
- Data are a critical input component to assessing land productivity and health.
3. Uses of Data: What are the end uses of this data? How does it benefit customers, support lead and other agency missions, etc.?
- Examples of end uses include the determination of highly erodible lands, prime farmlands, wetlands and the like. In knowing both the physical and chemical characteristics of the soil and the geographic location, NRCS, partners and customers can better manage the land to minimize negative impacts to resources.
- Federal customers use the data as input to models - examples include the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to assist in power plant placement and EPA to assist in assessing the health of watersheds. Determination of prime farmland and hence assisting communities in developing smart growth strategies to protect such lands. Used to develop national and regional strategies to offset the negative impacts of fertilizer use and leaching to critical groundwater resources of the nation.
- External non-federal customers - such as towns and municipalities use the data as a foundation to their community plans, home placement, transportation networks and the like. The data are often supplemented by more detailed analysis but the NRCS soils data historically forms the basis from which further analysis is conducted.
4. Charter/Plan: Do you have a current charter or plan for collection? Should it be updated?
- Charter is in need of review, will be completed this year.
5. Metadata: What is the status of metadata? Is it discoverable and served through the NSDI Clearinghouse? What percentage of this theme's data has metadata and is in a Clearinghouse node?
- At this writing, 1,200 soil surveys (out of 2,600) are in digital form and fully discoverable via metadata searches on the web and clearinghouse nodes.
- NRCS is a node on the NSDI clearinghouse and all soils data are downloadable directly form the NRCS node in several standard formats.
6. Standards: What is the status of this theme's data, process, transfer, and classification standards?
- The Soil Geographic Data Standard has been approved by FGDC. This standard is based on other standards developed, endorsed and used by the National Cooperative Soil Survey (NCSS) program.
- Standard data transfer protocols are employed.
- Industry standards such as shape files are also used.
- Process standards for the collection, documentation, archival and update of soil survey data is well documented and available on the Internet.
7. Progress: List FY 2000/2001 activities/progress to date.
- Group has been inactive in FY01.
- The group plans to re-activate in FY02 to discuss emerging issues requiring resolution.
8. Leadership: Describe your active leadership role with others (private, local, State, Federal) who collect and use this data.
- The Soils Subcommittee has a variety of representations covering state, local, federal and non-federal partners.
- The National Cooperative Soil Survey Program (NCSS) which is a partnership for the collection of soil data is very active and communicates and collaborates daily. NRCS leads this effort but relies on a variety of partners to collaboratively collect soils data meeting the specified standards. Federal NCSS partners are members of the Subcommittee.
9. Collaborative Partnerships: How many major partnerships with others do you have on this theme?
- Long-term collaborative partnerships exist with land based federal agencies involved in the collection of soils information such as the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, as well as those in need of the data such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency, U.S. Geologic Survey and others.
- Cooperative efforts exist with all Land Grant Universities.
- Formal partnerships exist with the National Association of Conservation Districts(NACD) and other state and local partners who contribute resources to collecting soils data.
10. Scope: Are you engaged in broad participation and international/global coordination?
- The NCSS standards are widely used around the world. Other standards such as those developed by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) are used to a lesser extent.
- International efforts have not been a major focus of discussion for this Subcommittee however its decisions and direction, are felt internationally due to the wide acceptance of the standard and historical work completed by the NCSS in the U.S.
11. Policy: Do you have a policy in place for full and open access or data sharing?
- Though no formal policy exists, discussion among Subcommittee members and cooperators continually express the intent of open access and data sharing.
- Soils data are accessible both on the NSDI clearinghouse and other sources, metatdata documents limitations and contact information to assist in its use and interpretation.
12. Are there areas or issues regarding lead responsibilities for spatial data themes that require attention, or lessons-learned that you would like to share with others?
The update of OMB Circular A-16 indicates the lead agency for a particular theme provide coordination and integration assistance in order to support the development of multi-dimensional and multi-resolution data. Though this is scientifically possible and very much a goal, the absence of resources focused on this and other geospatial issues may limit progress.