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601.1 - USGS Web Standards




Issuance Number:    601.1

Subject:                        USGS Web Standards

Issuance Date:           5/30/2023

Expiration Date:        5/31/2028

Responsible Office:  Office of the Associate Chief Information Officer (ACIO)

Instruction:                This supersedes Survey Manual (SM) chapter 601.1, USGS Web Standards, 1/15/2013.

Approving Official:   /s/ Timothy Quinn                                                                 

                                            Associate Chief Information Officer


1.    Purpose and Scope.  Access to U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) information through the Web is a powerful means of communicating and delivering our science to many audiences.  Websites and web pages containing science information that is released to the public are official publications of the USGS and, as such, must adhere to various standards and requirements.  This SM chapter establishes the requirements for USGS web-related activities, including the responsibilities and procedures for the development and maintenance of all public USGS websites and web pages.

2.    Authorities.

A.  The Registration and Use of .gov Domains in the Federal Government (M-23-10), February 8, 2023

B.  21st Century Integrated Digital Experience Act (IDEA), including the required website standards, December 2018 

C.  Connected Government Act, January 2018 

D.  OMB M-17-06, Policies for Federal Agency Public Websites and Digital Services, PDF, November 2016 

E.  OMB Circular A-130, Managing Information as a Strategic Resource, July 28, 2016 

F.  Digital Government Strategy, May 2012 

G.  E-Government Act of 2002, Section 207 

H.  DOI Digital Media Guide (internal DOI site)

I.  386 Departmental Manual 3, Web Management – Web Standards and Guidelines 

J.  Full list of policies and regulations relevant to web content management within the Federal Government

3.    References.

A.  SM 500.16, Classification and Inventory of USGS Web Services 

B.  SM 502.4, Fundamental Science Practices: Review, Approval, and Release of Information Products

C.  SM 205.18, Authority to Approve Information Products

D.  SM 550.1, USGS Visual Identity System 

E.  SM Part 1100 – Publishing

F.  SM 601.2, Content Management System Certification

4.    Policy.

A.  USGS websites and web pages must follow applicable requirements as documented in the 21st Century IDEA, Connected Government Act, OMB M-17-06, Policies for Federal Agency Public Websites and Digital Services, Digital Government Strategy, and additional federal policies and laws.  The Department of the Interior (DOI) Web Standards Handbook (DM 386 3), which contains guidance such as the DOI Linking policy, and the internal USGS Web Standards Handbook, which contains guidance on USGS web activities, must also be followed.  The USGS Web Standards Handbook supplements the requirements prescribed in this chapter and contains specific guidance for implementing and maintaining the Bureau’s public and internal Web presences, including information on requirements mandated by Federal law, DOI, USGS, ACIO, and Content Management System Certification requirements. 

B.  USGS websites and servers must be registered in the USGS Web, Hosting, and Application Registry (see SM 500.16).

C.  Domain/Sub-domain requests are reviewed and approved by ACIO and the Office of Communications and Publishing (OCAP).  Websites must be created under an existing domain/sub-domain.  Requests for new domains/sub-domains require detailed justification, must be under a .gov or .mil domain, and in some cases, will require DOI and OMB approval.

D.  Public websites and web pages containing science information must adhere to appropriate requirements for review, approval, and release of the USGS information products (see SM 502.4, SM 205.18, and SM Part 1100).  Compliance with USGS Visual Identity System requirements is also required (see SM 550.1).

5.    Definitions.

A.  Content.  Content is any material that is available on a website.

B.  Homepage.  A homepage serves as the initial point of entry to each website.  No website has more than one homepage.

C.  Web Page.  A web page may be static, dynamic, a form, or an application interface.  It contains content such as text, images, audio, and video that is accessed through a web browser, at a single unique URL.

D.  Website.  A website is a collection of related web pages and applications that are intended to stand together as a single body of information.  Each site has a homepage and other web pages and may have elements in common such as navigation or branding.

E.  Website Maintainer or Webmaster.  A Website Maintainer or Webmaster is the person(s) responsible for maintaining a website(s) or web page(s).  Maintenance may include, but is not limited to, designing site architecture and appearance, creating and managing code, building and maintaining site functionality, and ensuring the site complies with applicable policies and requirements for Federal websites.

F.  Content Manager.  A content manager is responsible for publishing and managing web content and ensuring such content complies with applicable policies and requirements for federal websites.

6.    Responsibilities.  All individuals who are involved in the development of content and in the establishment or maintenance of Bureau websites and web pages are responsible for complying with this policy.  Specific responsibilities for web-related activities are as follows:

A.  USGS Website Maintainers, Webmasters, and Content Managers – Responsible for adhering to the Federal, DOI, USGS, and other policies and procedures in establishing and maintaining their respective websites and web pages.

B.  USGS Center Directors, Managers, and Leaders, as applicable – Responsible for ensuring adherence to policies regarding USGS websites and web pages under their authority.  Those Federal employees and Contracting Officers who manage others should ensure that any contractual awards for roles in 6(A) contain the appropriate provisions for ensuring recipient adherence to Federal, DOI, USGS, and other policies and procedures related to the establishment and maintenance of their respective websites and web pages.

C.  OCAP and ACIO – Responsible as leads for overall USGS web management.  These offices jointly work in coordination with various USGS offices to provide advice and guidance on how to meet USGS website requirements and ensure site security.  OCAP and ACIO are responsible for collaborating with each other to develop and oversee policy related to establishing and maintaining USGS websites and coordinating with applicable DOI and USGS offices in these efforts.  This responsibility also includes, where practicable, establishing and implementing Bureau-wide solutions for meeting the USGS web-related activities. ACIO is responsible for assuring all Information Technology infrastructure supporting USGS websites meets DOI and USGS cybersecurity and Data Center requirements.