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U.S. Geological Survey Manual

800.1 - Mapping Responsibility and Policy


OPR: National Mapping Division

1. Purpose. This chapter prescribes policy, responsibility, coordinating arrangements, and procedures for Departmental administration of mapping activities.

2. The National Mapping Program. In response to the findings and recommendations of the Federal Mapping Task Force cited in 757 DM 1, the Department modified, extended, and renamed its National Topographic Program to serve better the basic cartographic data needs of the Nation. This redefined program, the National Mapping Program, includes those activities necessary to make available basic map data and a family of general purpose maps. Certain of these map data categories (such as transportation, hydrography, hypsography, and manmade structures) are identified as base map data categories. Other map data of public value can also be incorporated into the National Mapping Program and are identified as non base categories. The nonbase categories are developed and maintained by the responsible agencies and the data are made available under cooperative agreement for the preparation of maps and digital products through the National Mapping Program's coordination and dissemination arrangements.

3. Definitions.

A. Cartography. The art and science of capturing, processing, storing, analyzing, and displaying geographic information about the Earth or extraterrestrial bodies.

B. Map. An abstract representation, usually on a plane surface, at scale, of selected geographic in formation about the whole or a part of the Earth or extraterrestrial body by the use of signs, symbols, or numeric representation.

C. Mapping. The process of collecting geographic information and its subsequent processing, including classification, generalization, and symbolization, for presentation in graphical or digital form.

D. Base Map. A map showing selected fundamental information for multipurpose use; a general-purpose map.

E. Digital Map Data. Numerical data representing spatially referenced information that can be used in computations, statistical analysis, and the preparation of graphic output.

F. National Digital Cartographic Data Base. The assemblage of digital geographic and cartographic information collected principally from Geological Survey sources, including planimetric and elevation data, land use and land cover files, and geographic names. The data base includes capabilities for data archiving, storage, retrieval, and distribution.

G. Geographic Information System. A computer hardware and software system designed to collect, manage, analyze, and display spatially referenced data.

H. Base Map Data Category. A set of map data, at scale and of a prescribed level of content, that is normally produced in the preparation of general-purpose maps. This set of basic map data can be available as individual features, such as roads, streams, contours, etc., or in combinations of features within or across categories. Base map data categories are:

(1) Reference Systems - geographic and other coordinate systems (excludes the public land survey system).

(2) Hypsography - contours, slopes, and elevations.

(3) Hydrography - streams and rivers, lakes and ponds, wetlands, reservoirs, and shorelines.

(4) Surface Cover - woodland, orchards, vineyards, etc.

(5) Nonvegetative Features - surface features normally designated by names or special symbols other than contour lines, such as playas, dunes, and barren waste areas.

(6) Boundaries - limits of political jurisdictions, and of administrative units such as national parks and forests, and military reservations. This category shows the boundaries as established by the various concerned agencies and jurisdictions and does not definitively set forth land ownership or land use.

(7) Transportation Systems - highways and roads, railroads, trails, canals, pipelines, transmission lines, bridges, tunnels, etc.

(8) Significant Manmade Structures - buildings, airports, dams, and other landmark structures or objects.

(9) Survey Control and Markers - geodetic control, monuments, and other survey markers.

(10) Geographic Names - proper names for places, geographic features, and areas.

(11) Orthophotographic Imagery - aerial photographs that are processed to remove image displacements caused by camera tilt and variations in scale because of terrain relief.

I. Nonbase Map Data Category. A set of map in formation in graphic or digital form on specific themes or topics (such as land ownership or management) that has general public value. These data are generally referenced to one or more of the base map data categories.

4. Coverage. The provisions of this chapter apply to all base maps and base map data categories and to those nonbase map data categories that have general use and can be developed economically under cooperative agreement with the responsible bureau.

5. Policy. The domestic base mapping requirements of the Federal Government will be met by the National Mapping Program through partnership arrangements. To avoid duplication of effort, and ensure compatibility of base data, mapping and map production processes of other Federal agencies will be adapted when practical to use the maps and data available under the National Mapping Program. Bureaus will not independently develop base category information.

6. Responsibilities.

A. Lead Bureau. The Geological Survey is responsible for the administration of the National Mapping Program. This responsibility includes defining, coordinating, planning, managing, compiling, and distributing the National Mapping Program graphic and digital cartographic products, and ensuring the availability of the resulting data and materials to users. The Geological Survey solicits requests from Federal and State agencies for mapping, imagery, and digital cartographic products primarily through the Office of Management and Budget Circular A-16 process. Priority requirements are the basis for production planning and serve as input to budget document preparation. The Geological Survey also uses other coordinating mechanisms, such as interagency and bilateral coordinating committees, technical exchange meetings, congressional inquiries, legislation, and regulatory documents to gather requirements. Requirements that cannot be met through Geological Survey congressional appropriations may be addressed through cost-share, workshare, or data-exchange agreements.

B. Base Map Data Categories. The Geological Survey is responsible for defining and maintaining the base map data categories of the National Mapping Program and for making these data available in forms that contribute to their timely and effective use. In cases where base map category data are not available, the Geological Survey and the requiring bureau shall determine the necessary developmental actions to make the data available and to incorporate the data into the National Mapping Program.

C. Nonbase Map Data Categories. The bureau responsible for a program or process that produces spatial data not included in the base map data categories will generally develop and maintain these nonbase category data. The bureau will evaluate its data production activities in cooperation with the Geological Survey to review the overall need for cartographic data that are or can be derived from those activities. When sufficient general need is determined, the category should be incorporated into the National Mapping Program. Should the nonbase category be designated a component of the National Digital Cartographic Data Base, the bureau maintaining the nonbase cartographic data is responsible for modifying its processes to ensure data compatibility with National Mapping Program standards. The responsible bureau will also establish, by agreement with the Geological Survey, the arrangements for making the nonbase category information available through the National Mapping Program.

D. Map Printing. Each bureau is responsible for the efficient and economical printing of the maps it produces. In exercising this responsibility, the bureau will consider the map reproduction capabilities of the Geological Survey and use them where appropriate.

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Last modification: 08-Jan-2013@15:14 (bt)