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431.5 Directives Management Handbook

This Handbook is pending revisions for FY20 release. 

Prepared by the Office of Administrative Policy and Services/Office of Policy and Analysis



This Directives Handbook (431-5-H) supplements Survey Manual Chapter 431.5, Directives Management.  Specifically, it prescribes standards and procedures for the preparation and processing of U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) directives.

Questions regarding the content of the Handbook may be directed to

The previous edition of this Handbook dated February 1992 is hereby superseded.



/s/ Carol F. Aten                                                                           February 25, 2004  

Carol F. Aten                                                                                               Date

Chief, Office of Administrative Policy and Services





1.  U.S. Geological Survey Directives System

2.  Structure of the Survey Manual 

3.  Approving Officials



1.  Language Usage

2.  Margins    

3.  Font

4.  Page Numbering

5.  Chapter Size

6.  Text

7.  Splitting Units of Text

8.  Underlining

9.  Linking

10. References to Paragraphs in Survey Manual Chapters

11. Weights and Measures

12. Page Headers

13. Paragraph Headings for Survey Manual Chapters

14. Structured Divisions of Survey Manual Chapters

15. Supplemental Material

16. Formatting and Preparing Directives for Submission

17. Review of Directives



1.  Distribution

2.  Notification

3.  Maintenance

4.  Availability



1.  Revision

2.  Revalidation

Appendix A: Process for Obtaining Input and Comments on Survey Manual Directives



1.    U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Directives System.  The purpose of the USGS Directives System is to document and communicate program and administrative policy, procedures, and instructions throughout the USGS.  It is comprised of the Survey Manual, Survey Manual Handbooks, and Instructional Memoranda.

A.   The Survey Manual is the means by which long-term program and administrative policies, standards, and instructions governing USGS operations are issued to USGS organizations.  The Survey Manual describes the organization and functions of USGS offices, documents delegations of the Director’s authority, and prescribes the policies and general procedures for administrative activities and specific program operations.  The Survey Manual contains essential bureauwide information that is applicable to all or some organizations.

B.   Survey Manual Handbooks are an integral part of the Survey Manual and are used for lengthy procedural or instructional material which implements basic policy documented in the Survey Manual.  Handbooks are generally authorized in a corresponding Survey Manual chapter.   

C.   Instructional Memoranda are temporary directives used to establish policy in advance of incorporation in the Survey Manual or to announce temporary procedural changes in either the Survey Manual or a particular handbookInstructional Memoranda have a cancellation date of no longer than 1 year from the date of issuance or until incorporation in the Survey Manual or a Handbook, whichever is sooner.   


2.  Structure of the Survey Manual.  The Survey Manual is organized into four broad subject matter categories called Series.   Each Series is divided into numbered sub-classifications called Parts, which organize information into specific subject areas.  Parts are further subdivided into Chapters.  Each chapter includes policy, procedures, instructions, etc., on a specific topic.  The chapter is the basic unit of text in the Survey Manual.  The Series, Part Numbers, and descriptions are described below.  

A.  Organization Series, Parts 100 - 199, contain USGS organizational policies and describe the organization of the USGS, including headquarters, regional, and field organizations.

B.  Delegation Series, Parts 200 - 299, contain USGS policies governing delegation and redelegation of authorities.

C.  Administrative Series, Parts 300 - 499, provide policies, standards, and procedures governing the administrative activities of the USGS. 

D.  Program Series 500 - End, contain USGS policies, standards, and procedures governing program activities of the USGS.


3.  Approving Officials. 

A.  The Director, Deputy Director, and the Chief, Office of Administrative Policy and Services are the only officials authorized to sign and approve Survey Manual Chapters.

B.  Senior Executive Service Managers with bureauwide responsibility for the activities covered are responsible for signing and approving Survey Manual Handbooks issued by their respective offices.

C.  The Director, Deputy Director, and the Chief, Office of Administrative Policy and Services are the only officials authorized to sign and approve Instructional Memoranda that establish temporary policy in advance of incorporation in the Survey Manual. 

D.  Office Chiefs with bureauwide responsibility for the activity being addressed is responsible for signing and approving Instructional Memoranda that announce temporary procedural changes (those which require action by technical staff, but not managerial action).  The approving official must ensure that the Instructional Memorandum includes an expiration date.



1.  Language Usage.  

A.  Write in clear, simple, easily understandable English.  Write short sentences.  Avoid repetition and excessive detail, technical or legalistic jargon, and gender-specific language.

B.  Locate information in a logical sequence where the user expects it to be.

C.  Identify your audience early and write with the intended users foremost in mind, so that further explanation in the form of local supplements will not be necessary. 

D.  Use “you” and other pronouns to speak directly to readers.  When appropriate, use “we” when referring to the bureau.  Use of such pronouns makes the document more relevant.

E.  Use the active voice to make it clear who is supposed to do what and to eliminate ambiguity about responsibilities.

F.  Write in a visually appealing style.  Use of a clear and un-crowded style will help users to understand what you want to convey.

G.  Use brief, descriptive headings for chapters, paragraphs, appendices, and figures.

H.  Use acronyms sparingly and write the complete words for the acronym the first time it is used.

I.  Use as a guide the William Strunk Jr., and E.B. White publication, “The Elements of Style,” in the drafting of written materials.  Use the U.S. Government Printing Office Style Manual to obtain writing guidance that is not available in the “Elements of Style” publication.


2.  Margins. The text in each chapter should be prepared with standard 1-inch margins on all sides.


3.  Font.  Font used should be Times New Roman.  Font size used should be “12” point.  Exception:  Font used in the identification of title, number, and month and year issued at the top of handbook pages should be “10” point, and font used on the cover page of handbooks is addressed in 16.A (3) (a) below.


4.  Page Numbering.   Number the pages of Survey Manual Chapters, Handbooks, and Instructional Memoranda.  Page numbering should be consecutive and centered at the bottom of each page.  Page numbering for handbooks should begin with the Foreword page.  Page numbers are included on hard copies in order to keep track of the pages.  Web page numbering takes precedence over hardcopy page numbering.


5.  Chapter Size.  Survey Manual Chapters are intended to convey policy and basic requirements and should generally be limited to a few pages.  If a chapter becomes too lengthy, consideration should be given to sub-dividing the topics into other chapters, if appropriate.


6.  Text.  Text should be in Microsoft Word.   Do not use automatic outlining or paragraphing.


7.  Splitting Units of Text.  At least two lines of a divided paragraph should appear on each page.  In dividing a sentence between pages, at least two words of that sentence should appear on each page.  A word should not be divided between two pages.


8.  Underlining.  Use to link only. 


9.  Linking.  Public pages must not contain links to internal pages to which the public does not have rightful access.


10.  References to Paragraphs in Survey Manual Chapters.


A.  References to paragraphs in other Survey Manual Chapters are to begin with the capital letters SM, followed by the part number, followed by the chapter and paragraph number, e.g., SM 205.1.5A.

B.  References to other paragraphs in the same chapter are to be written using only the chapter and paragraph number, e.g., 1.5A.


11.  Weights and Measures.  It is the policy of the Department and of the USGS to comply with the Omnibus Trade and Competitiveness Act of 1988 (Public Law 100-418, Section 5164),

which amended the Metric Conversion Act.  Bureau policy and requirements for using the metric system of measurement for weights and measures in bureau directives are set forth in SM 402.5.


12.  Page Headers.  A standard page header is required for the first page of each directive.  These page headers will be in bold type, flush left, beginning on the first line of the first page of the Chapter, Handbook, or Instructional Memorandum.  Double-space between lines of the headers.  The header formats are described below:

A.  Page Headers for Chapters.  The first line of a chapter header will be the words “U.S. Geological Survey Manual” in bold italics.  The second line will include the part and chapter number connected by a period, with a hyphen separating the chapter title.  The third line includes the office of primary responsibility (OPR), which is the office responsible for keeping the chapter current.  The fourth line contains instructions indicating whether the chapter is new or revises another chapter (include date of version being revised) or provides other brief, explanatory information.  See Figure 2-1.  The header is not repeated on successive pages.  (Approval date will be inserted above the OPR during posting to the Survey Manual Web site.)

B.  Page Headers for Handbooks.  The Foreword is the first page of a handbook.  The first line of the Foreword page header will be the words “U.S. Geological Survey Manual”. The second line is “Department of the Interior”.  The third line is “U.S. Geological Survey”.   The fourth line is the title of the Handbook, followed by the part number separated from the chapter number by a dash and the letter H (for Handbook) separated by a dash. The fifth line specifies the preparer’s office.  This header is not repeated on successive pages.  Use the header for the Foreword of this handbook as an example.  A “10” point handbook identifier that includes the title and number flush left and the month and year issued flush right should be set to be automatically inserted at the top of each page. 

C.  Page Headers for Instructional Memoranda.  The first line of an instructional memorandum will be the words “U.S. Geological Survey Instructional Memorandum”.  The second line is the Instructional Memorandum number, which is the acronym for the office responsible for its issuance, then the fiscal year of issuance, and ending with the sequence in which issued.   The third line is the issuance date.  The fourth line is the expiration date.  The fifth line is the subject.     The sixth line will contain instructions which indicate whether a previous Instructional Memorandum is being reissued without change, corrects information contained in another Instructional Memorandum, etc.  The header is not repeated on successive pages.  The issuance and expiration dates will be inserted by the approving official.  Exception:  The expiration date for an Instructional Memorandum being issued for a period of less than 1 year should be inserted by the originator.  See Figure 2-2 for a sample page header. 


13.  Paragraph Headings for Survey Manual Chapters. 

A.  Paragraph Headings for Chapters in the Organization Series (Parts 100-199).  A chapter that addresses the establishment of the USGS should be included in this series of the SM and should cover the bureau’s creation, authority, mission, and functions as specified in 13.A (1) – 13.A (4) below.  That chapter or other chapters in the organization series should also address 13.A (5) below.   

(1) Creation - A summary statement on the origin and history of the bureau.

(2) Authority - The basic statutes and other authorities governing the bureau’s programs and functions.

(3) Mission - The overall purpose of the bureau.

(4) Functions - Brief statements of major responsibilities.

(5) Organization - Description of headquarters and field organization including:

(a) Responsibilities of the head of the bureau and line offices and functions of subordinate organizational units that report to the head of the bureau, including any immediate staff (excluding clerical/secretarial staff). 

(b) Functions of the headquarters office administrative organization and its component parts, i.e., personnel, property management, financial management, fiscal services, management services, etc. 

(c) Functions of the headquarters program offices.

(d) Functional statements for headquarters offices (program, technical, or administrative) in non-headquarters locations.  Include city and state. 

(e) Appropriate organization charts of headquarters, regional, and field organizations.

(f) Maps of headquarters and regional office boundaries, including office locations.

B.  Paragraph Headings for Chapters in the Delegation Series (Parts 200-299).   Material prepared for publication in the Delegation Series must adhere to the policy and procedural requirements prescribed in SM 200.1 and SM 200.2.  In the Delegation Series, the authority delegated should be briefly described and any limitations clearly stated.  Statements describing the policy under which the delegation may be exercised are permissible, but procedural and other such details should be included in the appropriate part(s) of the Administration or Program Series.  Use headings from section 13.C below as appropriate. 

C.  Paragraph Headings for Chapters in the Administrative Series (Parts 300-499) and Program Series (Parts 500-End).    The content and arrangement of chapters in the Administrative and Program Series depend upon the subject matter being covered.  The paragraph headings listed below are generally used to describe policies and procedures in the Administrative and Program Series.  Other appropriate headings can be used, and not all of the headings listed below will be applicable to all chapters; but, where possible, writers should follow the format below and in the order shown. 

(1) Purpose.  State the intent of the chapter and/or the program, policy, etc.

(2) Scope.  Identify who or what is covered by the policy.

(3) Authority.  Authority to perform a program responsibility is generally assumed.  If the authority is derived from a specific or special act, or a particular Presidential or executive agency directive, an authority statement should be included.

(4) Reference.  Where possible, cite references at points in the text where it is most appropriate.  If there is no other appropriate place, list citations in a reference section.  References should be used only when the reference is essential to proper understanding of the directive.   

(5) Policy.  Briefly state the requirements.    

(6) Definitions.  Define technical terms.  If the number of definitions required is large, the definitions should be included in an appendix to the basic document.  In a handbook-type directive where the list of definitions or glossary of terms is lengthy, it will immediately follow the table of contents under the heading of “Definitions” or “Glossary of Terms.”

(7) Responsibility.  A responsibility statement generally describes the organizational and/or program assignments, especially if the responsibility for the function is divided in any way.

(8) General Procedures.  Statements describing the sequence of processing and decisionmaking, variations in procedures at headquarters and in the field, alternative methods, legal questions, and other significant information should be covered here.  Lengthy procedures should be issued separately in a Survey Manual handbook.

(9) Reports and Forms.  Reporting requirements and forms required for implementing the directive should be identified.  Required reports must be identified by report Control Symbols and required forms must include official form numbers.  Due dates, documentation requirements, and how to obtain or access the reports and forms must be provided.  Include Web sites where applicable. 

(10) Effective, Issuance, and Expiration Dates.   Survey Manual Chapters, Handbooks, and Instructional Memoranda are normally effective the date they are signed by the approving official.  Therefore, an effective date paragraph is used in Chapters and Handbooks only when they become effective at a date different from the date signed.  Since Instructional Memoranda have a lifespan of not more than 1 year from date of issuance or until incorporation in a Survey Manual Chapter or a Handbook, whichever is sooner, an issuance and expiration date is always used.  The body of an Instructional Memorandum may contain an effective date if different from the issuance date. 


14.  Structured Divisions of Survey Manual Chapters.  Survey Manual chapters are comprised of paragraphs.  All lines are typed at the left margin, i.e., left justified.  Each major paragraph is designated by Arabic numerals, ending with a period.  Each of these paragraphs should include a subject heading in bold, ending with a period.  Major paragraphs may be subdivided into subparagraphs as indicated below:

A.  First Subdivision. The first subdivision in each paragraph is identified by a capital letter, ending with a period.  Headings/captions are optional.  If a heading is used, it should be in italics.

(1) The second subdivision in each paragraph is identified by Arabic numerals in parentheses.  Headings/captions are optional.

(a) The third subdivision in each paragraph is identified by lower-case letters in parentheses. Headings/captions are optional. 

(i) The fourth subdivision in each paragraph is identified by lower case Roman numerals in parentheses.  Headings should not be used.


15.  Supplemental Material.

A.  Figures.  When figures are used, they will be placed at the end of the SM chapter or at the end of the last chapter of the SM handbook.  Use figures to include forms or formats, illustrations, charts, tables, and other short supplemental materials.  If a directive prescribes use of a form, include as a figure a copy of a completed form.  Figures are identified in bold italics with the chapter number and figure number, separated by a hyphen, and the title of the figure in the top right corner of the page.  See example below:


Figure 2-1

Format for SM Chapters


B.   Appendices.  When lengthy supplemental information is referred to in a SM chapter or handbook, it will be placed after any figures and will be labeled as an “Appendix”.  If “QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS” are included, they should be incorporated as an appendix to the directive being prepared.  Identify appendices in bold italics with consecutive letters and with the part and chapter in the top right corner of the page.  See example below:




Appendix A

                                                                                                                        Part 431, Chapter 2


C.  Attachments.  Attachments instead of figures and appendices can be used for Instructional Memoranda.  Identify attachment in the top right corner of the page.


16.  Formatting and Preparing Directives for Submission.   Those preparing directives should become familiar with the instructions contained in this Handbook.  Prior to developing new or revised directives, consultation with the Directives Officer is recommended if further guidance is needed. 


A.  Formatting and Preparing Directives.

(1) Survey Manual Chapters.  Figure 2-1 provides a sample to use for formatting Survey Manual Chapters.  The Directives Officer will assign numbers for new chapters.

(2) Instructional Memorandum.   The structured format used for Survey Manual Chapters is also used for preparing Instructional Memoranda (see the sample provided as Figure 2-2).  Use of a narrative-type format is acceptable if it will make the Instructional Memorandum more visually appealing and/or easier to follow.  (Variance in the header is not allowed.)  The Directives Officer will assign numbers for Instructional Memoranda. 

(3) Handbooks. 

(a) Covers.   Covers are required for all handbooks.  The back cover of handbooks should be left blank.  The format for preparing front covers is included as Figure 2-3.  Instructions for preparing the front cover are provided below:

(i) PAPER SIZE: 8.5” x 11”.

(ii) MARGINS: 1-inch top, bottom, left, and right margins.


USGS Identifier:  Align flush with the top left margin, using size 10p6 x 4p0 (or 1.75” x 0.66”);

Handbook Title:  Align flush left.  Space 13 lines down from the identifier, using font size 12.  Use a font size range of 22-28 (depending on length of title) to type the title in bold;

Handbook Number:  Align flush left, next line space after the title.  Use the same font and size as the title to type the handbook number in bold.

Prepared by:  Align flush left.  Space seven lines down from the handbook number, using font size 12.  Use font size 16 to type prepared by information in bold.

Date:  Align flush left.  Space four lines down from prepared by, using font size 12.  Use the same font and size as prepared by to type the date in bold.

DisclaimerAlign flush left two line spaces from the bottom margin, using font size 10 to type the disclaimer in bold.  Use the following required statement, “Any use of trade, firm, or product names is for descriptive purposes only and does not imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.”

(b) Foreword.  Handbooks will contain a foreword that explains the purpose for the handbook and identifies the Survey Manual Chapter to which it relates as well as the Office of Primary Responsibility (OPR). (See the Foreword of this Handbook for an example of the proper format.) 

(c) Table of Contents.  Handbooks will contain a Table of Contents.  (See the Table of Contents of this Handbook for an example of the proper format.)  Underlined topics will be linked to their contents when posted on the Survey Manual Web site. 

(d) Handbook Chapters.  Subdivide handbooks into chapters.  Title the handbook chapters and assign them Arabic numerals beginning with "1," e.g., CHAPTER 1. STRUCTURE OF THE DIRECTIVES SYSTEM.  The structured format used for Survey Manual Chapters can be used to format handbook chapters.  This Handbook is in that format.  Variance in format is acceptable if it will make the handbook more visually appealing and/or easier to follow.      

(e) Sequence of Components.

(i) Front Cover

(ii) Foreword

(iii) Table of Contents

(iv) Definitions or Glossary of Terms (if lengthy)

(v) Chapters

(vi) Figures  

(vii) Appendices

(viii) Back Cover

(4) Directives Brief.  For each new or revised directive, a Directives Brief should be prepared and accompany the Chapter, Instructional Memorandum, or Handbook.  (The format for preparing a Directives Brief is provided as Figure 2-4.)  Major changes should be summarized in the Directives Brief.  For minor changes, a mark-up of the most recently-issued directive should be provided with the Directives Brief. 

(5) Clearance Record.  Completion of the Clearance Record, USGS Form 9-2032, is required for each directive submitted for approval in order to document concurrence.  (A sample Clearance Record is provided as Figure 2-5.)   Surnames and approval should be obtained in the following order:  (1) originator; (2) head of the Office of Primary Responsibility; (3) Directives Officer, and (4) approving official as specified in Chapter 1, paragraph 3. 

B.  Arrangement of Directive and Supporting Material for Submission.   Front of folder:  Clearance Record.  Left side of folder:  Directives Brief that includes a summary of major changes with a clean copy of the existing directive attached or a Directives Brief with a markup of minor changes attached; any other supporting documentation; and the diskette containing the directive, which will be returned to the originator.  Right side of folder:  Directive (Chapter, Handbook, or Instructional Memorandum).


17.  Review of Directives.    Input should be obtained from appropriate officials prior to approval and issuance of the directive.  The review process is included as Appendix A.  The originator of the directive must ensure that it has been coordinated with affected counterparts and that comments are incorporated as appropriate.  The Directives Officer (Office of Policy and Analysis, Mail Stop 201) must review for compliance with the USGS Directives System guidelines and for correctness and format; to resolve any overlaps or possible conflicts in policy; and to propose rewrite or addition of material if needed for completeness.  Editors should review large handbooks. 



1. Distribution.  Upon approval, a hard copy and an electronic copy of the signed directive and accompanying documents will be provided to the originator.  The originator should then have the electronic copy of the directive converted to html (or PDF upon request) and return it to the Directives Officer or designee for posting on the Survey Manual Web site.


2.  Notification.   The Directives Officer will notify employees of the new directive via the All Employees Weekly Bulletin Board on Lotus Notes.  The What’s New section of the Survey Manual Web site will provide additional notification.


3.  Maintenance.   The Directives Officer will retain the original copies of signed directives and maintain them as the official file copies.  The Survey Manual Checklist, which is on the Survey Manual Web site, is a listing of the most recent directives.


4.  Availability.  Copies of all current Survey Manual directives are available on the Survey Manual Web site.




1.  Revision.

A.   Survey Manual Chapters.  Revised Survey Manual Chapters will be reissued in their entirety.

B.   Handbooks.  When a handbook is revised, the table of contents and index should also be revised to reflect changes in text.

C.   Instructional Memoranda.  Do not revise Instructional Memoranda.  If an Instructional Memorandum requires revision, cancel it, and issue a new one.


2.    Revalidation.  The Offices of Primary Responsibility are responsible for reviewing directives biennially to validate that they are current, revising when necessary or canceling when no longer needed.  A special review will be requested at other times if circumstances dictate; for example, organizational or functional realignments, etc.  The Offices of Primary Responsibility should issue revised directives whenever changes in policy and/or procedures occur.