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OMB Memorandum M-92-01

Office of Management and Budget Memorandum No. 92-01 provided information regarding the responsibilities of Federal agencies for coordinating water resources information programs and activities.

[The Following has been typed from the original text of Director Darman's memorandum]

December 10, 1991


FROM: Richard Darman/s/Director
SUBJECT: Coordination of Water Resources Information

The attachment to this memorandum provides information regarding the responsibilities of Federal agencies for coordinating water resources information programs and activities. Its purpose is to ensure effective decisionmaking for natural resources management and environmental protection at all levels of government and in the private sector.

Questions or comments may be referred to OMB's Natural Resources Division, telephone (202) 395-4586.




Because water-related responsibilities are dispersed throughout the Executive Branch, identifying opportunities to make the best use of available resources requires communication and collaboration among dozens of Federal organizations. To ensure coordination of water information programs, the Department of the Interior, through the U.S. Geological Survey, is designated as the lead agency for the Water Information Coordination Program (WICP). All other Federal organizations funding, collecting, or using water resources information should assist the U.S. Geological Survey in ensuring the implementation of an effective WICP.

Federal interests and funding for water resources information are integrally tied to partnerships with non-Federal entities. Therefore, the U.S. Geological Survey and other Federal organizations participating in the WICP shall work together and independently, consistent with their mission responsibilities, to establish routine communications and more effective working relationships with State and local agencies, with Indian Tribes, and with the private sector, as appropriate.

For the purposes of this memorandum and the WICP, the following definitions apply:

  • Water resources include: streams, lakes, reservoirs, ground water, estuaries, and other aquatic habitats influenced primarily by fresh water.
  • Water information includes: data on surface and ground water quality and quantity, sediment, erosion, transport, water chemistry, and precipitation information critical to water resources management.
  • Water information activities include: field data collection; laboratory analysis; data processing and interpretation; database management; development and distribution of consensus standards; quality control and quality assurance; and water resources appraisals, assessments, and investigations. Research activities are not included.

In consultation and collaboration with the participating agencies, the WICP will evaluate the effectiveness of existing water-information programs and will document modifications needed to respond to changes in legislation, technology, and other conditions. In addition, the participating agencies should conduct a nationwide review and evaluation of water-quality monitoring activities. Following review and evaluation, the participating agencies should report to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), with recommendations for needed improvements. The review, evaluation, and report of recommendations should be completed within one year of the date of this memorandum.

The WICP will be established and maintained to achieve the objectives stated below.

  1. To provide procedures at the national, interstate, and State levels to conduct interagency business related to the WICP, to exchange information, and to foster collaboration. At the national level, the procedures shall include an Interagency Coordinating Committee for Water Information and a Federal Advisory Committee on Water Data for Public Use. The U.S. Geological Survey shall chair and provide support services for these committees. OMB shall be a member of the national committees.
  2. To plan, design, and operate a cost effective national network for water-data collection and analysis that meets the priority water-information needs of the Federal government and, to the extent possible within available resources, the needs of the non-Federal community that are tied to national interests. The U.S. Geological Survey shall have principal responsibility for operating the national network.
  3. To coordinate funding, staffing, and the provision of other resources needed to support interagency water-information activities for ensuring the best use of available resources. To the extent possible, each agency is responsible for providing resources to support water-information activities critical to their missions and for collaborating with the U.S. Geological Survey and other agencies to avoid duplication of efforts.
  4. To collaborate, as appropriate, with other groups that are coordinating related categories of information, such as spatial data and meteorological information. Regarding spatial data, the Interagency Committee should plan and implement actions to establish water resources components of a national spatial-data infrastructure.
  5. To develop uniform standards, guidelines, and procedures for the collection, analysis, management, and dissemination of water information in order to improve quality, consistency, and accessibility nationwide
  6. To establish a National Water Information Clearinghouse that should index and disseminate information so as to improve the awareness of, availability of, and access to existing water information holdings of Federal agencies and the non-Federal sector. Through the Clearinghouse and associated information systems, the U.S. Geological Survey and other agencies shall maintain the national historical water-information files needed to meet current and future requirements.
  7. To publish and distribute documents that inform others about the conclusions, recommendations, and activities resulting from the WICP. 

Prior to initiating or expanding water information programs, agency heads should ensure that such plans are coordinated with other agencies, through the Interagency Committee. Based on the results of such interagency reviews, agency heads should certify that their plans represent the most effective and economical alternative for meeting their requirements. The U.S. Geological Survey will prepare an annual report to OMB that documents funding and program activities conducted to fulfill this requirement. Water information needs that are temporary and that result from emergency conditions are exempt from this requirement.