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NSSH Part 608

Program Management

608.00  Definition and Purpose

  1. Definition. Soil survey program management is the administrative phase of the National Cooperative Soil Survey (NCSS) that provides a systematic approach to and guidelines for administering and coordinating soil survey activities.
     
  2. Purpose. Soil survey program management ensures that the effective planning, scheduling, coordination, and organization needed to produce and maintain quality soil survey information are initiated as timely and as efficiently as possible. All initial soil surveys and major land resource area (MLRA) update soil surveys are managed on a project basis.
     

608.01  Responsibilities and Organization

The National Cooperative Soil Survey is directed, administered, managed, performed, and supported at various organizational levels within NRCS. Soil scientists and other specialists carry out soil survey activities at numerous management and technical support levels within NRCS and through coordination with National Cooperative Soil Survey partners. Additional information about responsibilities at various levels of the organization can be found in Section 608.07(b) and in the General Manual, Title 430, Part 402.

  1. National Headquarters Office (NHQ)
    1. The Director of the Soil Science Division:

      1. Provides overall direction, policy, guidance, and leadership for the National Cooperative Soil Survey within NRCS;
      2. Coordinates the National Cooperative Soil Survey with NCSS partners;
      3. Distributes fund allocations for soil survey program activities to the States and soil survey regional offices (SSROs);
      4. Establishes soil survey goals for the program and monitors progress made;
      5. Ensures that the Soil Science Division is represented and soil survey information is incorporated into external agency and all applicable NRCS business and programs at the national level; and
      6. Supervises senior staff of the Soil Science Division including the Director of the National Soil Survey Center, Senior Scientist, Program Manager, Associate Director for Soil Operations, National Leader for World Soil Resources, and other functional branches.
         
    2. The Associate Director for Soil Operations:

      1. Provides management, direction, and administrative support for soil survey activities in the SSROs to assure compliance with agency goals and priorities;
      2. Supervises the soil survey regional directors;
      3. Approves the MLRA Region-Wide Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the soil survey regions, including any proposed amendments, and ensures that the soil survey needs of the regions are addressed;
      4. Approves annual business plans for SSROs; and
      5. Serves as an ex officio member of the board of advisors for the SSROs.
         
  2. National Soil Survey Center (NSSC)
     
    1. The Director of the NSSC:

      Supervises six functional branches grouped under five national leaders for:
      1. Soil Survey Research and Laboratory;
      2. Soil Survey Standards;
      3. Soil Business Systems;
      4. Soil Survey Interpretations and Technical Soil Services; and
      5. Soil Quality and Ecosystems.
         
    2. The functional branches of the NSSC:

      1. Lead program functions in their respective areas;
      2. Coordinate national technical standards;
      3. Develop policy and procedures that guide soil survey operations;
      4. Develop and deliver technical training;
      5. Perform investigations and laboratory assistance;
      6. Provide leadership and support to States for technical soil service activities;
      7. Maintain soil survey data and information systems;
      8. Provide NASIS technical support;
      9. Coordinate with the Information Technology Center;
      10. Maintain soil survey area symbols, names, and acreage;
      11. Maintain the Web pages for the Soils Hotline and Soil Science Division; and
      12. Manage the Geospatial Research Unit (GRU) which:
        • Develops and integrates spatial science and technologies that bring the full wealth of soil and resource data and information to the user community;
        • Researches and develops soil data and information products that meet new and emerging customer needs;
        • Researches and develops field-based technologies for efficient data collection;
        • Develops and tests information display systems that facilitate the interpretation, understanding, and use of soil data; and
        • Develops applications that are functional and user-friendly.
  3. Soil Survey Regional Offices (SSROs)

    The directors of the SSROs:

    1. Provide leadership in the production and quality assurance of soil survey and ecological site information;
    2. Provide leadership in the classification, correlation, interpretation, and joining of spatial and attribute  data within and between soil survey areas;
    3. Coordinate and support activities of the board of advisors (BoA) by communicating soil survey region priorities, work plans, and progress to ensure that soil survey operations are relevant to agency goals and priorities and to conservation needs;
    4. Coordinate activities of the management team(s) and ensure development of standard operating procedures that identify business steps, structure, and team member responsibilities;
    5. Review and approve project plans;
    6. Coordinate mapping goals and progress reporting throughout the soil survey region;
    7. Provide quality assurance of maps, manuscripts, official series descriptions, and attribute and spatial databases within their region;
    8. Provide quality assurance for the development and correlation of ecological site descriptions;
    9. Support state soil scientists in coordinating with Federal land management agencies to assure that NCSS standards are followed and partner needs are met;
    10. Supervise SSRO staff and the MLRA SSO leaders located within their soil survey region;
    11. Provide administrative support to the soil survey offices (SSOs) within their soil survey region;
    12. Provide legend administration for the MLRA soil survey areas;
    13. Develop standard operating procedures as necessary for quality assurance within their soil survey region;
    14. Report progress related to field reviews and correlations; and,
    15. Where applicable, report compilation certification status.
       
  4. Board of Advisors (BoA)

    The BoA consists of the state conservationist from each State served by the SSRO.  Representatives from Federal, State, university, and other NCSS partners are invited to serve as members, as applicable.  The soil survey regional director provides the necessary staff to plan work, conduct meetings, and present information.  Specific operating procedures are developed by the BOA members as necessary.

    The BoA members:

    1. Serve as a review board to provide advice, counsel, and broad management direction to the soil survey regional director and management team to ensure soil survey operations and ecological site activities are relevant to agency goals, priorities, and conservation needs;
       
    2. Review the progress and performance of soil survey and ecological site activities in the region in relation to agency goals and priorities and provide feedback to the Associate Director for Soil Operations for consideration during periodic performance reviews and annual evaluations of soil survey regional directors; and
       
    3. Review and concur with management team recommendations on project priorities for soil survey and ecological site activities, ensuring local needs are in balance with State and national issues, or provide alternate advice.
       
  5. MLRA Soil Survey Management Team (management team)

    The MLRA soil survey management team consists of the soil survey regional directors, state soil scientists, state resource conservationists, and appropriate other state technical leaders as needed.  Representatives from Federal, State, university, and other partners are invited to serve as members, as applicable.  The management team develops specific operating procedures, which outline structure, chairmanship, and roles, to best serve the needs of the soil survey region.

    The management team(s):

    1. Review and concur with technical team recommendations on project priorities for soil survey and ecological site activities, ensuring local needs are in balance with State and national issues, or provide alternate advice;
       
    2. Review technical team recommendations regarding approval of project plans, SSO annual plans of operation, and soil survey memoranda of understanding within the soil survey region, including any proposed amendments, and provide concurrence or alternate advice; and
       
    3. Assist the soil survey regional director in administering the technical soil service activities of the soil survey offices.
       
  6. MLRA Soil Survey Technical Team (technical team)

    The MLRA soil survey technical team for the SSO consists of the SSO staff, SSRO staff (i.e., senior regional soil scientist, soil data quality specialist, and regional ecological site specialist, as appropriate), applicable resource soil scientists, applicable NCSS partners, and other applicable discipline specialists from field, area, State, or regional offices.  The MLRA SSO leader serves as chair.  Specific operating procedures are developed by the technical team as necessary.

    The technical team:

    1. Gathers and consolidates each State’s needs in an SSO long-range plan of operations;
    2. Develops proposed project priorities;
    3. Assists the MLRA SSO leader in developing draft project plans and SSO annual plans of operation for management team review, then formulates recommendations for approval by the SSRO; and
    4. Participates in quality control activities as appropriate.
       
  7. National Geospatial Center of Excellence (NGCE)

    The Director of the NGCE:

    1. Assists in the acquisition and processing of imagery and other digital data layers;
    2. Stores and distributes geospatial data;
    3. Develops standards and specifications and provides quality assurance for spatial soil data capture;
    4. Develops geospatial Web services;
    5. Maintains print-on-demand map services; and
    6. Provides assistance to the National Cooperative Soil Survey Program in the development and application of new technology related to cartography, remote sensing, GPS, and geospatial data.
       
  8. State Offices

    The state soil scientists (SSSs) and state resource conservationists (SRCs):

    1. Advise and assist their state conservationist in allocating resources as effectively as possible to carry out all soil survey, ecological site, and technical soil services in their area of responsibility;
    2. Provide technical soil and ecological site services within their State;
    3. Develop local soil and ecological site interpretations;
    4. Direct (and in some cases supervise) resource soil scientists and other technical specialists;
    5. Develop cooperative relationships and serve as liaisons to the State’s soil survey and ecological site cooperators, Federal land management agencies, and MLRA soil survey regional offices;
    6. Ensure that existing soil surveys and ecological site descriptions in their State are evaluated effectively by having the MLRA SSO staff, technical team, cooperators, resource soil scientists, and other technical specialists identify needs to be addressed in the long-range plan (see Part 610 of this handbook);
    7. Serve as a member of the MLRA management team(s) for the SSROs serving the State (one’s specific role is identified in the management team operating procedures);
    8. Assist the soil survey regional director in monitoring progress to ensure that work schedules and timelines are being met according to the plan of operations;
    9. Develop schedules to meet soil and ecological site program objectives and to assist the state conservationist in technical soil and ecological site service activities for conservation operations;
    10. Provide legend certification for delivery of soil survey information to customers;
    11. Assist the state conservationist and soil survey regional director in identifying needs for imagery, orthophotography, digital elevation models (DEMs), and other data layers;
    12. Host annual meeting of State NCSS cooperators to gather input for workload planning; and,
    13. In general, assist all users of soil survey and ecological site information.
       
  9. Area Offices and Field Offices

    Resource soil scientists and other specialists:

    1. Provide coordinated soil survey and ecological site information to all users;
    2. Respond to user needs for new interpretations and collect performance data;
    3. Evaluate the adequacy of soil survey and ecological site information;
    4. Provide support for USDA programs;
    5. Provide technical soil and ecological site services within their assigned area;
    6. Update and maintain the field office technical guide (e-FOTG);
    7. Train field personnel in the use of soil survey and ecological site information; and
    8. Participate as a member of appropriate MLRA soil survey technical teams.
       
  10. Soil Survey Offices (SSOs)

    The MLRA SSO leader:

    1. Develops the SSO long-range plan based on findings from an MLRA-wide soil survey and ecological site inventory and assessment;
    2. Schedules routine work activities in plans of operations and monthly and weekly schedules, as appropriate, in consultation with the SSRO;
    3. Supervises the SSO staff;
    4. Assesses training needs of the SSO staff and requests training through the SSRO, state offices, and national technical support centers;
    5. Provides leadership for the SSO technical team;
    6. Conducts activities on classification, correlation, interpretation, and joining of spatial and attribute data within and between soil survey areas;
    7. Supports the update of soil surveys and ecological site descriptions within the MLRA soil survey area;
    8. Provides management and support of soil survey and ecological site activities over a large geographic region;
    9. Keeps soil survey maps and ecological site data throughout their assigned area current to meet the changing needs of users;
    10. Improves the quality of digital line work to conform to landscape models;
    11. Performs investigations throughout their assigned area, maintaining soil survey and ecological site datasets and preparing and revising official series descriptions and ecological site descriptions;
    12. Conducts quality control of all soil survey activities in the MLRA soil survey area, including any initial soil surveys conducted from soil survey project offices;
    13. Coordinates quality control for ecological site description development and correlation;
    14. Develops project plans and annual plans to address the goals and activities identified by the management team and board of advisors as priority work;
    15. Provides and documents technical soil services to supplement State programs;
    16. Conducts work in a manner that follows NCSS standards, policy, and procedure; and
    17. Collects data in support of NCSS initiatives.
       

608.02  Soil Survey Area Designation

  1. Definition. A soil survey area is a geographic area that has a size and shape defined for efficient field operations and timely release of products. A soil survey area is an administrative unit for project management (staffing and equipment), progress reporting, and delivery of products. Soil survey area coverage includes all lands of the United States, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Pacific Basin Territories.

    Purpose. National Soil Survey Center personnel follow the policy set out in this section to identify soil survey areas in the National Soil Information System (NASIS) database. Each soil survey area receives a unique area name and alphanumeric area symbol that are used in NASIS, the Soil Data Warehouse and Mart, cooperative agreements, memoranda of understanding, all survey area publications, correlation documents, and other official reports and correspondence. There are two types of soil survey areas recognized for managing soil surveys:

    1. MLRA Soil Survey Area (MLRA SSA) and
    2. Non-MLRA Soil Survey Area (Non-MLRA SSA).
       
    Refer to Exhibit 608-3 for guidance on project administration and acreage management in the NASIS database.

     

  2. MLRA Soil Survey Areas (MLRA SSA)
     
    1. These areas were established as part of the 2008 reorganization of the National Cooperative Soil Survey program and are the boundaries of the MLRA SSA. The areas follow physiographic boundaries reflecting natural features such as similar soils, geology, land use, and climate. They are the basis for the development of the soil survey legend used for interpretive needs and for all related classification, correlation, quality control, and quality assurance functions. The goal is to provide a seamless soil survey.
       
    2. The boundaries of the MLRA SSA may encompass all or parts of one or more MLRAs. Changes in boundaries of the MLRA SSAs and office locations are approved by the Soil Science Division Director.
       
    3. MLRA SSAs are identified with an area symbol consisting of the SSRO area number to which they are assigned, followed by the first three letters of the city in which the office is located.  Some examples are Asheville, North Carolina (6-ASH) and Elko, Nevada (2-ELK).
       
  3. Non-MLRA Soil Survey Areas (Non-MLRA SSA)

    1. These are the county-based areas (or other similar areas, such as a parish or part of a county) that have been traditionally used in the soil survey program and are used for exporting datasets from NASIS to the Soil Data Warehouse for product delivery to the Web Soil Survey. These areas are used for completion of the initial soil survey. They are subsets of MLRA SSAs.
       
    2. Boundary Designation
      1. Cooperating agencies of the National Cooperative Soil Survey designate the boundaries of non-MLRA soil survey areas in consultation with major users of soil information.
      2. The boundaries can correspond to county boundaries, physiographic boundaries, tribal boundaries, Federal agency management boundaries, or other land management areas.
        • Two or more small counties may be combined to form the survey area; or
        • Large counties and physiographic areas may be subdivided for efficiency of field operations and publication of a final product.
      3. The boundaries used for non-MLRA soil survey areas can be changed by the state soil scientist in consultation with National Cooperative Soil Survey cooperators, the National Soil Survey Center, and the National Geospatial Center of Excellence, as needed. Refer to Section 608.09.
      4. Considerations for defining boundaries include:
        • Efficiency of managing legends and databases for different and overlapping spatial areas in the information system;
        • Timely and efficient delivery of the final product; and
        • Other factors important to cooperators.
    3. Naming and Symbolization
      1. The state soil scientist and soil survey regional director coordinate with the National Soil Survey Center on area names and symbols for soil surveys designated “Non-MLRA Soil Survey Areas” for registration in the National Soil Information System (NASIS).  The area names should not exceed 135 characters.
      2.  For non-MLRA soil survey areas that correspond to a single county, parish, or independent city boundary, the symbol consists of the State abbreviation followed by the Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS) code for the county, parish, or independent city. The FIPS codes are in the Federal Information Processing Standards Publication Series of the National Bureau of Standards, U.S. Department of Commerce.
      3. For all other non-MLRA soil survey areas, the symbol consists of the State abbreviation and a unique 600, 700, or 800 series number which is assigned in lieu of the FIPS code.
      4. Below are examples of names and symbols for non-MLRA soil survey areas that have differing boundary designations.
        • Soil survey area corresponds to a single county boundary:
          1. Baldwin County, Alabama (AL003)
          2. Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana (LA109)
        • Soil survey area corresponds to two or more county boundaries:
          1. Beaver and Lawrence Counties, Pennsylvania (PA603)
          2. James City and York Counties and the City of Williamsburg, Virginia (VA695)
        • Soil survey area includes only part of a single county:
          Select a name that clearly distinguishes the survey area from other survey areas in the county or from adjoining counties. If a clear designation cannot be made, use the words “part” or “area” to indicate that the survey area boundary does not include the entire county.
          1. Washoe County, Nevada, South Part (NV628)
          2. Socorro County Area, New Mexico (NM664)
        • Soil survey area includes parts of two or more counties in one State:
          Use the name of a well-known place or geographic feature and list the counties.
          1. Jicarilla Apache Area, New Mexico, Parts of Rio Arriba and Sandoval Counties (NM698)
          2. Wenatchee National Forest, Naches Area, Washington, Parts of Kittitas and Yakima Counties (WA680)
        • Soil survey area includes all of one or more counties and part of another:
          1. Soil Survey of Curry County and Southwest Part of Quay County, New Mexico (NM669)
          2. Menifee and Rowan Counties and Northwestern Morgan County, Kentucky (KY632)
        • Soil survey area includes parts of two or more counties in adjoining States:
          1. Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee and North Carolina (TN640)
          2. Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee and North Carolina (NC640)
          3. Shiprock Area, Parts of San Juan County, New Mexico and Apache County, Arizona (NM717)
          4. Shiprock Area, Parts of San Juan County, New Mexico and Apache County, Arizona (AZ717)
            Note: In order to maintain acreage integrity for all States, separate project entries are made in NASIS for survey areas that cross State boundaries.
        • Soil survey area is in a region with no counties:
          Use the name of a well-known place or geographic feature in the area.
          1. San German Area, Southwestern Puerto Rico (PR787)
          2. North Star Area, Alaska (AK642)
  4. Small Geographic Areas
     
    1. Special management areas such as small political subdivisions, areas of tribal lands, and Federal management areas (e.g., National Park Service units, national forests, and Bureau of Land Management lands) are ordinarily handled as special projects or subsets (overlaps) of a larger soil survey area.
       
    2. State soil scientists designate small geographic areas as soil survey areas. Legends for these areas are linked to the appropriate area types in NASIS as needed.
       

608.03  Areas of Limited Access, Denied Access Areas, and Areas Not Completed

  1. Definition. Many survey areas include parts that have difficult or limited access for personnel conducting field operations, and occasionally landowners deny access to their property. The goal of the National Cooperative Soil Survey is to survey all lands, and soil survey area coverage includes all lands (refer to Section 608.02). Some survey areas may be posted to the Web Soil Survey which are only partially mapped and have portions that are still unmapped.
     
  2. Purpose. Land should not be excluded from a soil survey area based on difficult or limited access or because of difficulty in obtaining permission to gain access. All available resources should be used, such as old soil survey maps (if available), geology and topographic maps, aerial photography, and other available remote-sensing materials, to apply common field procedures and techniques in delineating map units. For relatively small areas, mapping surrounding lands and projecting soil lines across the area of denied access may be feasible. For relatively large areas, more broadly defined map units may be appropriate. In these cases, the reduced reliability in the map unit description should be described.
    Limited Access Areas.
     
  3. Surveying in Denied Access Areas

    State soil scientists, in consultation with the state conservationist and local cooperators, determine the feasibility of mapping areas of denied access. Reliability of the mapping for anticipated use and interpretations should be the final determining factor.

    1. Use judgment in deciding whether to attempt to gain permission to map areas of denied access. In some cases, such as when areas are restricted for national security purposes or where Native American officials desire that tribal lands remain unmapped, the decision may be made to not pursue the issue further.
       
    2. In situations other than those described in item (1) above, use all reasonable means to obtain permission to map. Enlist the aid of community leaders, district cooperators and supervisors, county and State officials, and others, as appropriate.
       
    3. If reasonable efforts to gain access are unsuccessful, apply techniques and resources discussed above in Section 608.03(b) to map the area.
       
  4. Reporting Denied Access Areas (ANS)
     
    1. Delineate the area with a map unit symbol “ANS” as a map unit with the name “Area not surveyed, access denied.” This is a national map unit that is queried in NASIS and added to the survey area through a linkage in the NASIS Legend Mapunit table.
       
    2. In the map unit description, tactfully describe the rationale for not mapping the area.
       
    3. Include the symbol and the acreage in the soil survey acreage table of the final report. Acreage is reported as mapping progress using standard progress reporting procedures.
       
    4. In rare instances where the area of denied access is very large, the soil survey area may be revised to exclude the unmapped area. Acres are not reported.
       
  5. Identifying Areas Not Completed (NOTCOM)
     
    1. The purpose of identifying NOTCOM areas is to provide a consistently displayed map unit symbol for progressively correlated information published to the Web Soil Survey that identifies those areas yet to be completed.
       
    2. The map unit designation NOTCOM is used to identify spatial areas that have not been surveyed. This designation does not include areas of limited access or denied access areas.
       
    3. Delineate the area with the national map unit symbol “NOTCOM” and the map unit name “No digital data available.” This is a national map unit that is queried in NASIS and added to the survey area through a linkage in the NASIS Legend Mapunit table.
       
  6. General Soil Maps

    The STATSGO2 map is the basis for the survey area general soil maps. Whether or not areas are excluded from detailed mapping, do not exclude any areas from the general soil map for the survey area and the U.S. General Soil Map (STATSGO2) database. Use standard procedures for delineating general soil map units and STATSGO2 map units.
     

608.04  Determining Workloads

  1. Definition. NRCS General Manual, Title 340 describes agency policy for workload analysis. Other cooperating agencies have their own policy for workload analysis.
     
  2. Purpose. The workload analysis planning process considers the work to be done, estimates the amount of time required to complete each task, and provides a timetable for completing the work. The workload analysis process will vary slightly depending on the type of survey operation, whether initial or update.
     
  3. Initial Soil Survey

    A long-range plan for initial soil survey projects details the activities needed to complete the project in a realistic amount of time (i.e., about 5 years or less). See Exhibit 608-1.

    An annual plan of operations for initial soil survey projects is used to guide and provide specific focus to staff as the long-range plan is being implemented. See Exhibit 608-2.
     
  4. Update Soil Survey

    1. The SSO long-range plan considers all aspects of bringing all soil surveys in the area to a common standard to meet user needs. An inventory and assessment of the MLRA soil survey area is completed prior to development of a long-range plan (see Part 610.02[c] and Exhibits 608-1, 2, and 3 of this handbook). In addition to the needs of the private lands in the area, it should include the needs identified by the cooperators responsible for the Federal lands within the area so that a coordinated effort is achieved in all soil survey work. The format and level of detail for the long-range plan can vary (see Part 610.02[d] of this handbook). The purpose is not to develop detailed plans to accomplish all of the needs but rather to identify the needs in enough detail to allow them to be prioritized effectively. Detailed planning to accomplish the highest priority needs then takes place through project plans.
       
    2. A project plan(s) for the SSO (see Part 610, Section 610.04 of this handbook) is used to accomplish one or more of the highest priority needs. The actual length of time needed to complete the project will be dependent upon the scope of the project and how it is defined. While there is no mandated limit to the time a project can take to complete, projects expected to require more than 2 years should be reevaluated and subdivided into smaller projects with shorter individual timelines. Shorter-term projects are preferred because they can be managed and delivered more effectively. Some projects might be completed in weeks or months while others may require as much as 2 years. Project plans are broken down into reportable milestones to identify annual progress. See Part 610, Exhibit 610-7 of this handbook for an example.
       
    3. An SSO annual plan of operations (or business plan) is used to identify objectives, goals, responsibilities, and timelines during a fiscal year.
       

608.05  Priorities for Soil Survey Activities

  1. Definition. State cooperative soil survey conferences, led by the state soil scientist, convene annually to discuss soil survey activities, consider cooperator priorities, and recommend action. Other interested user groups recommend priorities for such things as special or interim soil reports. Considerations for preparing the priority list are:

    1. The status of initial soil surveys,
    2. NRCS needs for carrying out Farm Bill and technical or financial assistance programs and projects,
    3. Cooperating agency needs for meeting their program and project needs,
    4. Requests for soil surveys by local people,
    5. Needs of Federal partners on Federal lands,
    6. Needs for information that aids in land use planning and decisions,
    7. Rapid land use changes in areas where critical soil problems are expected,
    8. Contributions of funds or staffing,
    9. Needs for tax evaluation, and
    10. Other factors of specific local importance.
       
  2. Purpose. State soil scientists, in cooperation with NCSS partners, the soil survey regional director, and the MLRA SSO leader, work with the above information to identify the needs for each SSO. Long-range plans are then refined to address the needs of the MLRA (see Part 610, Section 610.02 of this handbook). Where Federal lands are included within the MLRA soil survey area, it is important to coordinate with the appropriate representatives of those agencies.
     
  3. The MLRA SSO leader, with input from the technical team, consolidates each State’s needs for the MLRA SSO long-range plan.
     
  4. The long-range plan is used by the management team and technical team to develop priorities.  Priorities are then reviewed by the soil survey regional director for approval.  The MLRA SSO leader incorporates the priorities into one or more individual MLRA project plans.
     
  5. The SSO long-range plan is maintained as work progresses and new information or unforeseen circumstances arise. Additional issues to be addressed may come from a variety of sources, such as resource soil scientists, field offices, cooperators, customers, the SSRO, and state soil scientists. Reports from the Web Soil Survey or NASIS may also reveal issues and deficiencies that need to be prioritized and addressed in the future.
     

608.06  Planning Workflow

MLRA project plans direct the use of resources to accomplish identified activities as described above. An SSO will typically have multiple plans in progress each year. The plans are managed in NASIS and identify the activities that need to be accomplished by the plan. Each plan includes the name of the person or staff responsible for each activity, projected completion dates, and goals.

Exhibit 608-1 and 608-2 provide sample formats for a long-range plan and annual plan of operations for initial soil surveys. In Part 610 of this handbook, Exhibits 610-1 through 610-7 provide examples of documents used for planning MLRA update soil surveys. These documents can be adapted to fit the needs identified for the soil survey area.
 

608.07  Goals and Progress

  1. Definition. The establishment of performance goals and progress reporting is required by policy and outlined in the General Manual (GM 340, Part 400, Strategic Planning and Accountability). The National Soil Information System (NASIS) includes a number of tables and data elements for planning, managing, and tracking status, milestone events, and progress of the National Cooperative Soil Survey and Technical Soil Services activities (defined in Part 600 of the Technical Soil Services Handbook).  These data are stored in the Project Object and in the Technical Soil Services Object in NASIS.  Projects for initial soil survey work are linked to “Non-MLRA Soil Survey Areas.”  Projects for update work are defined by map units and are linked in NASIS through the data field “MLRA Soil Survey Office Area.”  No entries are populated for update project work in the data field “Non-MLRA Soil Survey Area.”
     
  2. Purpose. Program managers use goals and progress information recorded in NASIS to assess workloads, develop activity schedules and budgets, and plan for resources needed to complete the national soil inventory and related databases. Included as projects in NASIS are all active initial mapping on non-MLRA soil survey areas, as defined in Section 608.02, and all updating of survey information, as defined in Part 610 of this handbook.

    1. Initial projects linked in NASIS to each “Non-MLRA Soil Survey Area” contain administrative and other data that track the key business processes of the initial survey from field data collection through final publication.
       
    2. Update projects are linked to the “MLRA Soil Survey Office Area” and contain administrative and other data that track the key business process for updating map units from the field data collection through final publication.  The map units in an update project are listed in the Project Mapunit table.
       
    3. A “milestone” is an item or task identified to be completed during the initial or update project. Milestones are process steps, such as the number of transects collected, number of pedon descriptions gathered, amount of spatial line work edited, number of OSDs revised, etc. The milestone information is entered into the NASIS Project Milestone table. Milestones allow the manager to divide the project into reportable items and track the progress. Progress towards completion of each milestone is entered into the NASIS Project Milestone Progress table.
       
    4. The scheduled activities and progress of Technical Soil Services are reported in NASIS. See Section 608.08(b) for more information on scheduling.
       
  3. Responsibilities

    Data stewards for the various soil survey business areas are responsible for populating data elements and ensuring data quality in NASIS. Soil survey business areas perform all inventory-related activities at the field level and support and enable activities done in the generation of soil survey products.

    1. The business area responsible for either initiating or completing a soil survey business process also is responsible for populating appropriate data elements and reporting progress associated with the process.
       
    2. Exhibit 608-3 identifies broad soil survey business areas along with associated NASIS tables and data elements. Exhibit 608-4 specifies the organizational office levels in NRCS that are responsible for populating the data. Some data elements in the exhibit indicate more than one responsible office level. For these situations, the appropriate business area program managers designate the responsible data steward. See Section 608.01 for additional information.
       
    3. Program managers may delegate the responsibility of populating some data elements to the SSO. For example, MLRA soil survey leaders may be designated to report mapping and compilation progress for their respective area.
       
  4. Accessibility of the Data

    Soil survey area legends and projects are accessible through the National Soil Information System (NASIS) interface. The interface enables authorized users with full capability to create, edit, and report data. Extreme care should be taken to avoid populating or changing data that falls under the responsibility of another business unit. Various reports are available in NASIS to summarize the data.
     
  5. Data Management

    Exhibit 608-3 identifies soil survey business areas and related data elements, including key terminology and protocols, necessary for administration and maintenance of the data. Exhibit 608-4 provides an overview of the data elements and responsible soil survey business areas.
     
  6. Soil Survey and Ecological Site Performance Measurement

    The NRCS Performance Results System (PRS) is the official progress reporting instrument used by the agency to prepare national-level reports. Agency-accountable items, such as soil mapping on initial acres and progress on updating data, are assembled from NASIS and automatically uploaded to PRS. Acres of ecological sites inventoried are entered directly into PRS by staff in the States.

    Other data from NASIS are used to assess program performance and analyze budgets. Examples include signed memoranda of understanding, progress reviews and correlations completed, manuscripts edited, acres compiled and digitized, and the status of imagery and orthophotography acquisition. Both individual and business area performance can be analyzed.

    1. Performance Goals
      1. At the beginning of the fiscal year, individual and team goals for soil survey business activities should be established.
      2. In addition to initial and update soil surveys, mapping goals may be set for non-project survey areas based on anticipated requests for conservation planning. (Refer to Exhibit 608-3 for further discussion about goal setting.)
      3. State program managers and supervisors:
        • Base performance goals on the individual’s job description, experience, and training, on complexity, and on other factors;
        • Monitor progress throughout the year; and
        • Revise individual or team performance goals, as needed, in consultation with the employee(s).
      4. Goals are not always based on acres mapped. Goals for other aspects of soil survey can be established, especially for local project management.
      5. Performance goals can be set for:
        • Technical soil services and soil survey support activities;
        • Mapping goals (large water bodies, such as census water, should not be included; however, census water acres should be reported as a land category in the Project Land Category Breakdown table);
        • Gathering field documentation;
        • Database development;
        • GIS analysis;
        • Correlations; and
        • Manuscript development.
    2. Progress and Progress Reporting
      1. Soil survey progress records the inventory of the Nation’s soil resources, development of related databases, soil survey products, and interpretative materials.
      2. Soil survey regional directors are responsible for ensuring that progress is reported.
      3. Reportable items are all activities, including intermediate products (e.g., milestones), that lead to a final product that meets National Cooperative Soil Survey standards. These items are:
        • Acres mapped;
        • Correlations completed;
        • Acres compiled and digitized;
        • Ecological site description development and inventory;
        • Manuscripts edited; and
        • Documentation collected (e.g., pedon descriptions, transects, photographs, monitoring data, laboratory samples, vegetation data, and special studies).
      4. Progress should be reported in NASIS as it occurs. As a minimum, mapping progress should be reported quarterly and all other progress monthly.
         
    3. Mapping Progress
      1. Initial Projects
        • Refer to Exhibit 608-3 for further discussion about reporting mapping progress.
        • Discuss issues about progress reporting with the program manager at Soil Science Division Headquarters before revising performance goals.
        • For each non-MLRA soil survey area, create, if not already created, a project in NASIS and enter mapping progress into the Project Mapping Progress table by land category (refer to acreage accountability below).
        • Enter the reporting date, which determines the fiscal year for which progress is counted, in the Project Mapping Progress table.
        • Report progress as initial mapping.
        • Distinguish NRCS from cooperator personnel.
        • Enter each individual’s progress or the project team’s progress as a whole.
        • Closely monitor initial soil surveys. Report initial mapping progress only once and never delete it from the system once it is reported, except when data entry errors are immediately recognizable and easily corrected.
        • Upon completion of the initial soil survey, ensure that all initial acres reported as progress equal the land category acres and that the sum of all land category acres equals the area acres for the respective non-MLRA soil survey area.
      2. Update Projects (see Section 610.03 of this handbook)
        • Report milestones upon completion of the task.
        • Distinguish NRCS from cooperator personnel.
        • Enter each individual’s progress or the project team’s progress as a whole.
        • Report project acres upon publication of the project map unit(s) to the Soil Data Warehouse.
           
  7. Project Administration and Acreage Management

    The National Soil Information System (NASIS) provides a variety of ways in which data can be managed. Therefore, in order for the system to function optimally, a uniform approach is required.

    In NASIS, the data field “Non-MLRA Soil Survey Area” provides data about goals and progress for mapping and other milestone activities for initial soil survey work. A project is created for each initial soil survey project. Projects for soil survey update activities should be developed as needed (see Part 610, Section 610.04 of this handbook).

    1. Unique Spatial Areas

      1. All “Non-MLRA Soil Survey Areas” represent a unique geographical (spatial) area, such as an entire county, multiple counties, or parts of one or more counties. They receive a unique area symbol and area name (see Section 608.02).
      2. In NASIS 6.0, a project was created for each legend linked to a “Non-MLRA Soil Survey Area”. The resulting project was named for the survey area and the status shown in the Legend table (e.g., Allen County, Kansas - Update needed). Data from the Legend Data Object related to goals and progress in NASIS 5.4 were moved to this new project and related tables. Acreage data in the various tables for these specific, completed projects are not to be edited.
      3. Exhibit 608-3 provides additional information and examples of various project scenarios and protocols.
         
    2. Acreage Accountability

      NRCS, as Federal lead for the National Cooperative Soil Survey, maintains records of soil survey mapping for all lands of the Nation.

      1. Seven land categories distinguish non-Federal ownership from Federal ownership. Additionally, Federal lands are categorized according to the responsible Federal land management agency. The seven land categories are:
        • Native American land,
        • Other non-Federal land,
        • Bureau of Land Management,
        • U.S. Forest Service,
        • National Park Service,
        • Other Federal land, and
        • Census water.
      2. Refer to Exhibit 608-3 for definitions of the land categories and for additional information on acreage management and accountability.
         
    3. Acreage Allocation

      Federal and private land ownership and acreages constantly change. State soil scientists must periodically review land ownership for all soil survey areas. This information is maintained in the Project Land Category Breakdown table in NASIS.

      1. If ownership acres have changed in a soil survey area, the state soil scientist will report changes and discrepancies to the soil survey regional director. The soil survey regional director will:
        • Re-allocate acreage assigned to the seven land categories and
        • Re-allocate progress assigned to each land category.
      2. The sum of all land category acres within a project for a “Non-MLRA Soil Survey Area” must equal the area acreage for the survey area.
      3. The sum of all land category acres within a project for a “Non-MLRA Soil Survey Area” must equal the State total acreage from the 1992 National Resource Inventory.
      4. To re-allocate acres for soil surveys that have more than one project or that partially overlap another survey, refer to the discussion of acreage management and accountability in Exhibit 608-3.
         
    4. Acreage Base

      County-based 1992 National Resources Inventory (NRI) data for total surface area (land and water) is used within NRCS as the official acreage for non-MLRA soil survey areas that coincide with county or parish boundaries and for State totals. Acreages for non-MLRA soil survey areas that do not coincide with county or parish boundaries must be balanced with the respective State totals.

      1. Use the exact county-based figures or round to the nearest hundred.
      2. Coordinate acreage assigned to all survey areas with the national NASIS data steward at the National Soil Survey Center for inclusion in NASIS.
         

608.08  Developing Other Schedules for Soil Survey Operations

  1. Soil Survey Operations

    Schedules and timelines for soil survey activities are detailed in long-range plans, project plans, annual plans of operation, and monthly or weekly schedules. Exhibit 608-1 is an example of a long-range plan for initial soil surveys. Exhibit 608-2 is an example of an annual plan of operations for initial soil surveys. Part 610, Section 610.02 of this handbook discusses how long-range plans address identified needs for MLRA soil survey areas.

    1. MLRA SSO leaders schedule soil survey activities and coordinate routine work in consultation with the responsible soil survey regional director. Quality control activities are carried out and documented by the MLRA SSO leader per guidance in Part 609 of this handbook.
       
    2. SSRO staff schedule quality assurance reviews and field assistance visits in consultation with the SSO, state offices, and NCSS partners per guidance in Part 609 of this handbook.
       
  2. Technical Soil Services

    1. State offices and field offices develop annual plans of operation and monthly or weekly schedules, as appropriate, for activities related to technical soil services.
       
    2. Resource soil scientists and soil scientists assigned to nearby SSOs provide soil information as needed for conservation planning and other special local needs. These efforts ensure efficient use of soil scientist time and timely delivery of soil information. These activities should be reported in the Technical Soil Service table in NASIS. A choice list of activities is provided. New activities can be added to the list by coordinating with the national leader for Technical Soil Services and the NASIS data steward at the National Soil Survey Center. Scheduled start and end dates can be recorded for each service provided, as well as the actual start and end dates. The person providing the service, the geographic location where the service was provided, the name of the person or entity receiving the service, and the benefits realized should also be documented.
       
  3. Individual Schedules

    Individual soil scientists prepare monthly or weekly schedules, as required by supervisors. These schedules include:

    1. Routine soil survey activities,
    2. Training to be given and received,
    3. Staff conferences, and
    4. Information and public relations needs.
       

608.09  Status Maps

Maps indicating the progress and status of soil surveys and soil survey products are important management and public relations tools. Maps may be on a national, regional, MLRA region, or State basis.

  1. Source Data

    1. The primary sources of attribute data are NASIS and the Soil Data Mart. Section 608.07 identifies the soil survey business areas that are responsible for populating and maintaining the data.
       
    2. Base map cartography and spatial data for soil survey areas is maintained by the National Soil Survey Center (NSSC).
       
  2. Responsibilities

    1. The NSSC maintains a digital file of soil survey area boundaries for all non-MLRA soil survey areas listed in NASIS. Boundaries are taken from SSURGO data archived on the Soil Data Warehouse where SSURGO data is complete.
       
    2. State soil scientists:
      1. Assure the accuracy and completeness of non-MLRA soil survey area boundaries and
      2. Initiate revisions and corrections to the boundaries, as needed.
         
  3. Data Availability

    1. Soil Data Availability Status Map

      The Soil Data Availability Status Map portrays the availability of SSURGO data in the Web Soil Survey. This map is updated at least annually by staff of the NSSC based on the contents of the Soil Data Warehouse. The map legend indicates the data available for each soil survey area. Partial surveys are also shown. The map can be accessed online at http://soildatamart.nrcs.usda.gov/StatusMap.aspx.

       

      Standard map legend categories and colors

      • Green – digital spatial and tabular data are available
      • Orange – only digital tabular data are available
      • White – no digital data are available
    2. Other Status Maps

      Program managers at the national, NRCS regional, soil survey region, and State levels may determine other types of soil survey status maps useful for management and information purposes within their operational area.
       

Exhibit 608-1—Long-Range Plan for Initial Soil Surveys

United States Department of Agriculture -  Natural Resources Conservation Service
____________________________ County,   ____________________________
Date ________________________ Project staff _________________________

     
Narrative of Plan Items   FY-______   FY-______   FY-______     FY-______     FY-______
     
     
1. Memo of understanding (optional with MLRA Region-wide MOU on file)    
  a. Meet with locals       ______        ______        ______         ______         ______
  b. Prepare draft MOU       ______        ______        ______         ______         ______
  c. Obtain review       ______        ______        ______         ______         ______
  d. Obtain signatures       ______        ______        ______         ______         ______
       
2. Collection of references    
  a. Geology       ______        ______        ______         ______         ______
  b. Water resources       ______        ______        ______         ______         ______
  c. Statistical reports       ______        ______        ______         ______         ______
    1. Farm       ______        ______        ______         ______         ______
    2. NRI       ______        ______        ______         ______         ______
    3. SWCD       ______        ______        ______         ______         ______
    4. Climate       ______        ______        ______         ______         ______
    5. Other       ______        ______        ______         ______         ______
  d. County roads       ______        ______        ______         ______         ______
  e. Adjoining soil survey data       ______        ______        ______         ______         ______
  f. Topo quad sheets, DEMs       ______        ______        ______         ______         ______
       
3. Preparation of field sheets (if used)    
  a. Edging       ______        ______        ______         ______         ______
  b. Identification       ______        ______        ______         ______         ______
  c. Advance copy identification       ______        ______        ______         ______         ______
  d. Acreage determination       ______        ______        ______         ______         ______
  e. Other       ______        ______        ______         ______         ______
       
4. Preliminary field studies    
  a. Perform area reconnaissance       ______        ______        ______         ______         ______
  b. Develop landform map       ______        ______        ______         ______         ______
  c. Field test STATSGO2 for GSM use       ______        ______        ______         ______         ______
  d. Test map areas       ______        ______        ______         ______         ______
  e. Correlate studies and field observations       ______        ______        ______         ______         ______
       
5. Preparation of descriptive legend (ensuring NASIS is populated)    
  a. Taxonomic descriptions       ______        ______        ______         ______         ______
  b. Map unit descriptions       ______        ______        ______         ______         ______
  c. Features and symbols legend       ______        ______        ______         ______         ______
  d. Identification legend       ______        ______        ______         ______         ______
  e. Classification of soils       ______        ______        ______         ______         ______
       
6. Documentation and supporting data    
  a. Transect studies       ______        ______        ______         ______         ______
  b. Field notes       ______        ______        ______         ______         ______
  c. Identification of problem areas       ______        ______        ______         ______         ______
  d. Field descriptions       ______        ______        ______         ______         ______
  e. Pedon program       ______        ______        ______         ______         ______
  f. Transect program       ______        ______        ______         ______         ______
  g. Soil-ecosite correlation       ______        ______        ______         ______         ______
  h. Soil-landscape models       ______        ______        ______         ______         ______
  i. Other       ______        ______        ______         ______         ______
       
7. Special studies    
  a. Crop yields       ______        ______        ______         ______         ______
  b. Forestland sites       ______        ______        ______         ______         ______
  c. Geomorphology       ______        ______        ______         ______         ______
  d. Characterization       ______        ______        ______         ______         ______
  e. Surficial geology       ______        ______        ______         ______         ______
  f. Other       ______        ______        ______         ______         ______
       
8. Field mapping    
  a. Joining       ______        ______        ______         ______         ______
  b. Acreage goals       ______        ______        ______         ______         ______
  c. Sheet compilation (if needed)       ______        ______        ______         ______         ______
  d. Digitize       ______        ______        ______         ______         ______
  e. SSURGO AMLs       ______        ______        ______         ______         ______
       
9. Sampling and lab data    
  a. Sampling for NSSC-KSSL       ______        ______        ______         ______         ______
  b. Sampling for university       ______        ______        ______         ______         ______
  c. Sampling for highway dep.       ______        ______        ______         ______         ______
       
10. QA reviews and field visit assistance    
  a. Pre-initial review       ______        ______        ______         ______         ______
  b. Initial review       ______        ______        ______         ______         ______
  c. Progress review       ______        ______        ______         ______         ______
  d. Final review       ______        ______        ______         ______         ______
  e. Preliminary correlation       ______        ______        ______         ______         ______
  f. Final correlation       ______        ______        ______         ______         ______
  g. Field visit assistance       ______        ______        ______         ______         ______
       
11. General soil map (STATSGO2) (revision and update)    
  a. Adjust delineation of units       ______        ______        ______         ______         ______
  b. Develop legend       ______        ______        ______         ______         ______
  c. Describe units       ______        ______        ______         ______         ______
  d. Develop diagrams       ______        ______        ______         ______         ______
       
12. Development of survey area handbook    
  a. Introduction to area       ______        ______        ______         ______         ______
  b. General nature       ______        ______        ______         ______         ______
  c. Crops and pasture       ______        ______        ______         ______         ______
  d. Forestland and windbreaks       ______        ______        ______         ______         ______
  e. Rangeland       ______        ______        ______         ______         ______
  f. Engineering       ______        ______        ______         ______         ______
  g. Recreation       ______        ______        ______         ______         ______
  h. Wildlife       ______        ______        ______         ______         ______
  i. Factors of soil formation       ______        ______        ______         ______         ______
  j. Classification of soil       ______        ______        ______         ______         ______
       
13. Interpretation tables    
  a. Prepare and update data elements       ______        ______        ______         ______         ______
  b. Generate tables for review       ______        ______        ______         ______         ______
  c. Review tables with technical specialists       ______        ______        ______         ______         ______
       
14. Manuscript photos    
  a. Select sites       ______        ______        ______         ______         ______
  b. Review photos with editors       ______        ______        ______         ______         ______
  c. Select final photos       ______        ______        ______         ______         ______
       
15. Preparation of soil survey manuscript    
  a. Select from survey area soil handbook or generate from NASIS       ______        ______        ______         ______         ______
  b. Obtain technical review       ______        ______        ______         ______         ______
  c. Obtain English edit       ______        ______        ______         ______         ______


Exhibit 608-2—Annual Plan of Operations for Initial Soil Surveys

United States Department of Agriculture - Natural Resources Conservation Service
____________________________ County, ____________________________
Date ________________________ Project staff _________________________

     
    Responsibility of Number/Amount

Hours Per Quarter

FY Total
        1 2 3 4  
Section A: Long-Range Plan of Operation                
                 
1. Memo of understanding (optional)                
  a. Meet with locals   __________ ______ ___ ___ ___ ___ ______
  b. Review specifications   __________ ______ ___ ___ ___ ___ ______
  c.   __________ ______ ___ ___ ___ ___ ______
  d.   __________ ______ ___ ___ ___ ___ ______
                   
2. Collection of references                
  a. Geology reports   __________ ______ ___ ___ ___ ___ ______
  b. Flood data   __________ ______ ___ ___ ___ ___ ______
  c. Local history   __________ ______ ___ ___ ___ ___ ______
  d. County road maps   __________ ______ ___ ___ ___ ___ ______
  e. Land use   __________ ______ ___ ___ ___ ___ ______
  f. Water quality info   __________ ______ ___ ___ ___ ___ ______
                   
3. Preparation of field sheets (if used)                
  a. Edging   __________ ______ ___ ___ ___ ___ ______
  b. Identification   __________ ______ ___ ___ ___ ___ ______
  c. Advance copy identification   __________ ______ ___ ___ ___ ___ ______
  d. Designation of acreage   __________ ______ ___ ___ ___ ___ ______
                   
4. Preliminary field studies                
  a. Develop landforms map   __________ ______ ___ ___ ___ ___ ______
  b. Draft initial STATSGO2 update   __________ ______ ___ ___ ___ ___ ______
  c. Test map areas   __________ ______ ___ ___ ___ ___ ______
                   
5. Descriptive legend (completion of data in NASIS)                
  a. Prepare taxonomic unit descriptions   __________ ______ ___ ___ ___ ___ ______
  b. Prepare map unit descriptions   __________ ______ ___ ___ ___ ___ ______
                   
6. Documentation and supporting data                
  a. Record transects   __________ ______ ___ ___ ___ ___ ______
  b. Collect yield data   __________ ______ ___ ___ ___ ___ ______
  c. Make forest transects   __________ ______ ___ ___ ___ ___ ______
  d. Describe pedons   __________ ______ ___ ___ ___ ___ ______
  e. Analyze transect data   __________ ______ ___ ___ ___ ___ ______
                   
7. Field mapping                
  a. Acreage goal by individual   __________ ______ ___ ___ ___ ___ ______
                   
8. Field reviews                
  a. Pre-initial review   __________ ______ ___ ___ ___ ___ ______
  b. Progress review   __________ ______ ___ ___ ___ ___ ______
                   
Section B: Soil Management and Interpretation Support Services                
  a. Onsite investigations   __________ ______ ___ ___ ___ ___ ______
  b. FOTG   __________ ______ ___ ___ ___ ___ ______
  c. Special evaluation   __________ ______ ___ ___ ___ ___ ______
                   
Section C: Information Activities                
  a. Talk to service club   __________ ______ ___ ___ ___ ___ ______
  b. Prepare news article   __________ ______ ___ ___ ___ ___ ______
  c. Report to cooperators   __________ ______ ___ ___ ___ ___ ______
                   
Section D: Leave and Holidays                
  a. Annual leave   __________ ______ ___ ___ ___ ___ ______
  b. Sick leave   __________ ______ ___ ___ ___ ___ ______
  c. Holidays   __________ ______ ___ ___ ___ ___ ______


Exhibit 608-3—Goal and Progress Guidelines

This exhibit provides additional guidance for administering data in NASIS related to goals and progress reporting. It is primarily intended for soil survey program managers and data stewards. It is divided into four major soil survey program business areas for ease of reference. Data elements relevant to the business areas are listed and discussed. Also refer to Exhibit 608-4, a quick reference companion which provides a snapshot of business area responsibilities for NRCS offices. The four business areas are: (1) project administration and acreage management; (2) mapping goals and progress; (3) imagery, orthophotography, map compilation materials, and other data layers; and (4) initial and update survey operations.

Definitions of data elements are in NASIS and therefore are NOT provided in this document. Additional explanations are provided for some data elements.

I. PROJECT ADMINISTRATION and ACREAGE MANAGEMENT

Timely administration of projects and acreage accountability are critical functions in assuring the usefulness of the NASIS database as a management tool. Projects serve as “place holders” to project future needs, identify progress, and track milestone events leading to completion of soil survey products.

Guiding Principles:

  1. The tables and data elements related to goals and progress are imbedded in the NASIS database, which is a multi-user database. They serve as the official reporting instrument for production soil survey activities of the National Cooperative Soil Survey.
     
  2. Administration is the responsibility of state offices; updating maps and data is the responsibility of soil survey business area data stewards.
     
  3. For the initial soil survey, data are maintained in projects linked to the “Non-MLRA Soil Survey Areas” owned by the NASIS site “NSSC Pangaea.”
    • Each “Non-MLRA Soil Survey Area” will be linked to a project in NASIS. All geographic areas of the Nation are covered in at least one such survey area.
    • With the data conversion to NASIS 6.0, a project was created for each legend linked to a non-MLRA soil survey area. The resulting project was named for the survey area and the status shown in the Legend table (e.g., Allen County, Kansas - Update needed). Data from the Legend Data Object related to goals and progress in NASIS 5.4 were moved to this new project and related tables. Acreage data in the various tables for the specific, completed projects are not to be edited.
    • Mapping progress and milestones may be reported continuously but, as a minimum, are reported at the end of each quarter. Other data entries may be maintained continuously but, as a minimum, are current at the end of each month.
  4. For update soil survey work, a project is created for each project plan developed for the “MLRA Soil Survey Area”.
    • Projects are linked to the appropriate “MLRA Soil Survey Area” in NASIS.
    • Mapping progress and milestones may be reported continuously but, as a minimum, are reported at the end of each quarter. Other data entries may be maintained continuously but, as a minimum, are current at the end of each month.
  1. Administrative Data Elements.
    • Area Table
      • Area Name (This data element applies to the Area, Project, Legend, and Legend Area Overlap tables.)
      • Area Symbol (This data element applies to the Area, Project, Legend, and Legend Area Overlap tables.)
      • Area Acres
    • Legend Table
      • MLRA Office (This data element pertains to the 12 Soil Survey Regional Offices).
      • MOU Agency Responsible
      • Legend Description
      • Geographic Applicability (This data element specifies the currency of soil survey information, including both attribute and spatial data.)
    • Legend Certification History Table
      • Legend Certification Status
      • Certification Date
      • Certification Kind
    • Legend Export Certification History Table
      • Export Certification Status
      • Export Certification Date
    • Project Table
      • Project Name
      • Project Description
      • MLRA Soil Survey Office Area (This column header pertains to the MLRA soil survey offices and is composed of two underlying data elements labeled “MLRA SSO Area Symbol” and “MLRA SSO Area Name.”)
      • State Responsible
    • Project Product Table
      • Product Availability Status
    • Project Data Type Table
      • Product Data Type Name
      • Project Data Type Description
    • Milestone Type Table
      • Milestone Type Name
      • Milestone Type Description
    • Technical Soil Service Type Table
      • Tech Soil Service Type Name
      • Tech Soil Service Type Description
  2. Acreage Management Protocols for Initial Soil Survey Projects Linked to Non-MLRA Soil Survey Areas.

    Seven land categories are used to identify the ownership of all lands of the United States and its trust territories. The land categories are: Native American land, other non-Federal land, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, other Federal land, and census water. Accordingly, acreage is assigned in each project linked in NASIS to a “Non-MLRA Soil Survey Area”, subject to the following conventions:

    1. Land categories reflect the current land ownership in the survey area.
       
    2. The sum of all land category acres from all Projects linked to “Non-MLRA Soil Survey Areas” in a State equals the 1992 NRI acres for the State.
       
    3. Land category acres are balanced across projects that cover the same geographic area so that each acre is recorded only once.
       
    4. Survey areas that cover parts of two or more States will have a separate project for each State. Each project will have land categories, land category acres, goals, and progress for the respective State. A “Non-MLRA Soil Survey Area” will be needed for each State involved. The area symbol will be assigned for the respective State. The area name will be the same for both. Area acres will be for the whole survey area and will be recorded as the same in each State.
       
    5. Acres are recorded to the actual acre or rounded to 100 acres.
       
    6. Areas in Alaska identified as Alaska Native Lands or in Hawaii as Hawaiian Homelands are included in the meaning of Native American land.
       
    7. Census water applies to all contiguous water polygons that are 40 acres in size or larger. If a water polygon is less than 40 acres in size in the survey area but extends into an adjoining survey area such that the total extent in both survey areas is more than 40 acres, then the water qualifies as census water. Census water acreage is NOT to be part of mapping goals; it is administratively managed in NASIS as a land category in the Project Land Category Breakdown table to account for total survey acres and progress.
       

    Project Scenarios and Protocols:

    1. Survey Areas with One Project. Only one project is linked to a “Non-MLRA Soil Survey Area” in NASIS, and no other survey areas have been established that coincide geographically with any part of the survey area. The actual (or best estimate of) land category acres are recorded in the Project Land Category Breakdown table. The sum of all acres recorded in the table are to equal the survey area acreage.
       
    2. Survey Areas with Two or More Projects. These areas typically have an older out-of-date legend and corresponding project and a newer update or published legend and project. Acres in the Project Land Category Breakdown table should be re-balanced so that the older project shows zero acres in each land category. The newer project should reflect the actual (or best estimate of) land category acres in the Project Land Category Breakdown table. Thus, land category acres will be recorded only once for the survey area. Mapping progress should be retained in both the older and newer projects as appropriate (see the section on mapping goals and progress).
       
    3. Survey Areas That Partly Coincide with Another Survey Area(s). These areas typically consist of a newer survey area that covers part of an older survey area or a newer survey that covers all or parts of two or more previous survey areas. Acres in the Project Land Category Breakdown table should be re-balanced in all affected survey area projects so that current land category acres are recorded in the newest project and subtracted from older projects. The sum of land category acres in the newest project will equal the survey area acreage. The resulting sum of land category acres in each of the other affected projects will total less than their respective survey area acreage. Mapping progress should be retained in both older and newer projects as appropriate (see the section on mapping goals and progress).
       
  3. Acreage Management Protocols for Update Soil Survey Projects Linked to Non-MLRA Soil Survey Areas.

    Seven land categories are used to identify the ownership of all lands of the United States and its trust territories. The land categories are: Native American land, other non-Federal land, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, other Federal land, and census water. Accordingly, acreage is assigned in each project linked to a “Non-MLRA Soil Survey Area”, subject to the following conventions:
    1. Land categories reflect the current land ownership in the survey area.
       
    2. For each such project developed, the appropriate land category(s) and acres will be entered into the Project Land Category Breakdown table.
       
    3. As these projects stand on their own and the same acre of land may be covered by more than one project, there is no need to balance land category acres across projects or within a State. The same acre may be reported as being updated more than once.
       
    4. Acres are recorded to the actual acre or rounded to 100 acres.
       
    5. Areas in Alaska identified as Alaska Native Lands or in Hawaii as Hawaiian Homelands are included in the meaning of Native American land.
       
    6. Census water applies to all contiguous water polygons that are 40 acres in size or larger. If a water polygon is less than 40 acres in size in the survey area, but extends into an adjoining survey area such that the total extent in both survey areas is more than 40 acres then the water qualifies as census water. Census water acreage is NOT to be part of mapping goals; it is administratively managed in NASIS as a land category in the Project Land Category Breakdown table so that total survey acres and progress are accounted for.

II. MAPPING GOALS and PROGRESS

Goals and progress are recorded in the Project Mapping Goal and Project Mapping Progress tables for each defined project. Goals and progress may be recorded for each individual project staff member or for the project staff as a whole. Use the following protocols:

  1. Project Staff. First, enter individual project member names in the Project Staff table before entering goals or progress. A choice list is provided based on user names in the NASIS User table. If a name needs to be added to the list, contact the Soils Hotline (SoilsHotline@lin.usda.gov) to request a NASIS user account. For more information on requesting NASIS user accounts see Part 639, Section 639.2 of this handbook.
     
  2. Goals. Enter fiscal year goals in the Project Mapping Goal table at the beginning of each fiscal year.
     
  3. Progress.
     
    1. Enter mapping progress and show the effective progress reporting date in the Project Mapping Progress table under the appropriate land category. NOTE: The reporting date determines the fiscal year for progress reporting. Show initial and update mapping under NRCS or cooperator columns, as appropriate. Update acres may be reported in any project where update activity has occurred.
       
    2. Once initial soil survey mapping progress has been reported in a project, that progress should not be moved to another project, unless an error was made in data entry. In order to show the current progress for all land categories, however, progress may need to be re-allocated among land categories within the same project to reflect any changes in land ownership. NOTE: For situations where land category acres have been re-balanced across projects, acres of mapping progress reported for a land category may be more than the land category acres shown for that project and in some cases the land category acres may even be zero.
  1. GOAL SETTING.
    • Project Staff Table
      • Project Staff Member
    • Project Mapping Goal Table
      • Fiscal Year
      • Initial NRCS Acres Goal
      • Initial Cooperator Acres Goal
      • Update NRCS Acres Goal
      • Update Cooperator Acres Goal
      • Project Staff Member
  2. REPORTING MAPPING PROGRESS.
    • Project Mapping Progress Table
      • Progress Reporting Date
      • Initial NRCS Acres
      • Initial Cooperator Acres
      • Update NRCS Acres
      • Update Cooperator Acres
      • Project Staff Member

INITIAL ACRES. This item refers to mapping a soil survey area and reporting progress for the first time. The cumulative initial acres reported for a completed survey area always equals 100 percent of the survey area acres. The item applies to all lands of the Nation and mapping by both NRCS and cooperator personnel and to mapping at any order of detail or scale. Typically, initial acres are reported only for surveys having a non-project or initial status but may apply to surveys with update status where areas that were not mapped during the initial survey are mapped and reported for the first time. Initial acres are reported only once for a given geographic area. All subsequent mapping on the same ground is reported as update acres.

UPDATE ACRES. This item refers to updating and reporting progress on acres previously reported for the Nation.

All update acreage reported must be a part of a project plan entered in NASIS that was approved by the MLRA management team for the soil survey region. Acres are reported when revised data is posted to the Soil Data Warehouse.

Update projects consist of work which leads to significant changes in data or work which confirms the quality of the existing attribute data. This work usually, but not always, results in the recorrelation of map units and their components. Update acres are reported even if the data and correlation are not changed. Update projects are based on an inventory and assessment of existing soil survey information and the deficiencies identified for correction. Refer to Part 610 of this handbook for guidance on conducting the inventory and assessment. An update project is established after consideration of the work needed based on a project evaluation (described in Part 610, Section 610.04 of this handbook). The project is designed to address, either all or a reasonable subset of, related needs that are identified for the area. One hundred percent of a map unit’s acres are reported if update work was conducted on all components. Update acres are not reported for map units where the edited component is used as a minor component. This situation pertains to map units that were not part of field investigation but for which revisions were extrapolated to the attribute data for the minor component.

Updates are based on field observations, which are either new observations or existing documentation. All documentation used as the basis for updating official soil survey information is populated in NASIS, either as recorded point data or as text notes indicating where the data is located. The documentation is used as the basis for a change or to confirm the accuracy of the official data.

III. IMAGERY, ORTHOPHOTOGRAPHY, MAP COMPILATION MATERIALS, and OTHER DATA LAYERS

These data elements are primarily the responsibility of state offices in their administrative and liaison capacity between soil survey regional offices and National Cooperative Soil Survey partners within a State. Field imagery, orthophotography, and map compilation materials may be needed for project survey operations or SSURGO initiatives.

Beginning with NASIS 6.0, these needs are recorded in the Project Data Need table. Each type of product or data needed should be recorded on a separate row in the “Project Data Type” column using the choice list provided. Applicable dates need to be recorded in the “Date” columns.

  • Project Data Need Table
    • Project Data Type
    • Date Needed
    • Date Ordered
    • Date Received

IV. INITIAL and UPDATE SURVEY OPERATIONS

These data elements relate most directly to production soil survey operations and therefore are the responsibility of the soil survey regional offices. Data elements relative to the memorandum of understanding for project areas and product types are jointly shared by state offices and soil survey regional offices.

  1. ADMINISTRATIVE and FIELD ACTIVITIES.
    • Legend Table
      • MOU Signed
      • MOU Projected Completion
      • Project Scale. Standard National map scales are 1:12,000 in quarter quad format or 1:24,000 in full quad format. Puerto Rico is approved for 1:20,000 and Alaska is approved for 1:25,000. Any other scale and/or format must be approved by the Director of the Soil Science Division prior to development of the long-range plan for the survey area.
    • Project Field Review Table
      • Correlation Event = “Initial Field Review”
      • Correlation Event = “Final Field Review”
      • Date = date of the respective correlation event report
    • Project Table
      • English Edit Site
      • Digital Map Finishing Site
  2. MAP FINISHING.
    • Project Table
      • Map Finish Method = either digital (preferred) or manual
    • Project Milestone Table
      • Milestone Type Name = “Digital map finishing”
      • Milestone Date Started = date map finishing project was started
      • Milestone Date Completed = date map finishing project was completed
    • Project Milestone Progress Table
      • Milestone Progress Amount
      • Milestone Progress Unit = “percent”
    • Project Milestone Table
      • Milestone Type Name = “Maps to NGCE”
      • Milestone Date Started = date map finishing project was sent to NGCE
      • Milestone Date Completed = date map finishing project was received at NGCE
      • Milestone Type Name = “Maps to printer”
      • Milestone Date Completed = date finished maps were sent to printer
  3. SSURGO DIGITIZING, CERTIFICATION, and ARCHIVING.

    SSURGO Operations. As part of the National Cooperative Soil Survey, a SSURGO database is developed for all areas. The Soil Science Division coordinates with NGCE in SSURGO database development. Soil survey regional offices have soil business responsibilities for the correlation and quality assurance of SSURGO products. The dataset is archived in the Soil Data Warehouse and delivered via the Web Soil Survey and Geospatial Data Gateway.

    SSURGO Progress Reporting. Progress and status for SSURGO development are tracked continuously in NASIS. Business areas with responsibilities for SSURGO development also have responsibility for populating the appropriate data elements in NASIS (refer to Exhibit 608-4, Business Area Responsibilities for Goals and Progress). Data stewards are designated to ensure timely and accurate progress reporting.

    SSURGO Certification. These data elements are the primary responsibility of the soil survey regional office. If actual digitizing is not done by the soil survey regional office, States have responsibility for populating digitizing started, digitizing percent, and digitizing completed prior to sending the job to the digitizing unit for certification review. Dates and progress for the following milestones are recorded in the Project Milestone and Project Milestone Progress tables as outlined in Exhibit 608-4.

    • Project Milestone Table
      • Milestone Type Name = “Digitize maps”
      • Milestone Date Started = date the digitizing was started (The final correlation document, compilation certification, and attribute data are on file at the digitizing unit before the work is started. Correspondence that grants an exception is on file at the soil survey regional office.)
      • Milestone Date Completed = date the digitizing was completed (Quality control work by the State or the digitizing unit and quality assurance by the soil survey regional office are normally done after the digitizing is complete and before the SSURGO review is started.)
    • Project Milestone Progress Table
      • Milestone Progress Amount
      • Milestone Progress Unit = “percent”
    • Project Milestone Table
      • Milestone Type Name = “SSURGO Digital review”
      • Milestone Date Started = date the digital review was started
      • Milestone Type Name = “SSURGO Certification”
      • Milestone Date Completed = date the SSURGO dataset was certified
      • Milestone Type Name = “SSURGO Archived”
      • Milestone Date Completed = date the SSURGO dataset was archived
  4. MANUSCRIPT and PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT.

    1. Manuscript Technical Edit and Review
      • Project Milestone Table
        • Milestone Type Name = “Technical Edit”
        • Milestone Date Started = date the technical edit was started
        • Milestone Date Completed = date the technical edit was completed
        • Milestone Type Name = “Technical Review”
        • Milestone Date Completed = date the technical review was completed
    2. English Edit
      • Project Milestone Table
        • Milestone Type Name = “English edit received”
        • Milestone Date Completed = date the manuscript was received by the editor
      • Project Milestone Table
        • Milestone Type Name = “English Edit”
        • Milestone Date Started = date the English edit was started
        • Milestone Date Completed = date the English edit was completed
      • Project Milestone Table
        • Milestone Type Name = “Text received at NGCE”
        • Milestone Date Completed = date the manuscript was received by NGCE
      • Project Milestone Table
        • Milestone Type Name = “Text to printer”
        • Milestone Date Completed = date the manuscript was sent to the printer
    3. Products Data Elements
      • Project Product Table
        • Product Type. Six final product types are available from a choice list. All that apply for a survey area are identified according to their publication date. Choices are:
          • Interim Report
          • Soil Attribute/Spatial on CD-ROM
          • Soil Survey Report on CD-ROM
          • Three Ring Bound Manuscript
          • Traditional Bound Manuscript
          • Web Publication
        • Product Description
        • Scheduled Delivery (date)
        • Actual Delivery (date)
        • Availability Status
           

Exhibit 608-4—Business Area Responsibilities for Goals and Progress

I. PROJECT ADMINISTRATION and ACREAGE MANAGEMENT

A. Administration

NASIS Table Name Data Element State
Office
SSRO NSSC NHQ SSO NGCE

Area

area name X  X X      
Area area symbol X  X X      
Area area acres X  X X      
Legend MLRA office   X        
Legend MOU agency responsible X X        
Legend legend description X X        
Legend geographic applicability X          
Legend Mapunit mapunit symbol X          
Legend Mapunit total acres X          
Legend Certification History legend certification status X X        
Legend Certification History certification date X X        
Legend Certification History certification kind X X        
Legend Export Certification History export certification status X          
Legend Export Certification History export certification date X          
Project project name X X     X  
Project project description X X      X  
Project MLRA soil survey office area X X      X  
Project State responsible X X      X  
Project Product availability status X          
Project Data Type project data type name     X      
Project Data Type project data type description     X      
Milestone Type milestone type name     X      
Milestone Type description     X      
Technical Soil Service Type tech soil service type name     X X    
Technical Soil Service Type tech soil service type description     X X    


B. Acreage Management

NASIS Table Name Data Element State
Office
SSRO NSSC NHQ SSO NGCE
Legend Area Overlap area overlap acres X X        
Project Land Category Breakdown land category acres X X        
Project Land Category Breakdown land category X X        

II. MAPPING GOALS and PROGRESS

A. Goal Setting

NASIS Table Name Data Element State
Office
SSRO NSSC NHQ SSO NGCE
Project Staff project staff member X X     X  
Project Mapping Goal project staff member X X      X  
Project Mapping Goal fiscal year X X      X  
Project Mapping Goal initial NRCS acres goal X X      X  
Project Mapping Goal initial cooperator acres goal X X      X  
Project Mapping Goal update NRCS acres goal X X      X  
Project Mapping Goal update cooperator acres goal X X      X  


B. Reporting Mapping Progress

NASIS Table Name Data Element State
Office
SSRO NSSC NHQ SSO NGCE
Project Mapping Progress project staff member X X      X  
Project Mapping Progress progress reporting date X X      X  
Project Mapping Progress initial NRCS acres X X      X  
Project Mapping Progress initial cooperator acres X X      X  
Project Mapping Progress update NRCS acres X X      X  
Project Mapping Progress update cooperator acres X X      X  


C. ESD Development Progress

NASIS Table Name Data Element State
Office
SSRO NSSC NHQ SSO NGCE
Project Milestone ESI Quality Assurance - Field Assist   X      X  
Project Milestone ESI Quality Assurance - Progress Review   X      X  
Project Milestone ESD approval date   X      X  
Project Milestone ESI Quality Control Review   X      X  

III. IMAGERY, ORTHOPHOTOGRAPHY, MAP COMPILATION MATERIALS, and OTHER DATA LAYERS

A. Field Imagery

NASIS Table Name Data Element State
Office
SSRO NSSC NHQ SSO NGCE
Project Data Need project data type = “field imagery” X          
Project Data Need date needed X          
Project Data Need date ordered           X
Project Data Need date received X          


B. Orthophotography

NASIS Table Name Data Element State
Office
SSRO NSSC NHQ SSO NGCE
Project Data Need project data type = “digital orthophoto quads” X          
Project Data Need date needed X          
Project Data Need date ordered       X    
Project Data Need date received X          


C. Compilation Materials

NASIS Table Name Data Element State
Office
SSRO NSSC NHQ SSO NGCE
Project Data Need project data type = “compilation materials” X          
Project Data Need date needed X          
Project Data Need date ordered            
Project Data Need date received X          

IV. INITIAL and UPDATE SURVEY OPERATIONS

A. Administrative and Field Activities

NASIS Table Name Data Element State
Office
SSRO NSSC NHQ SSO NGCE
Legend MOU signed X X        
Legend MOU projected completion X X        
Legend project scale X X        
Project Field Review correlation event = “initial field review”   X        
Project Field Review date   X        
Project Field Review correlation event = “final field review”   X        
Project Field Review date   X        
Project English edit site   X X X    
Project digital map finishing site   X X X    


B. Map Finishing

NASIS Table Name Data Element State
Office
SSRO NSSC NHQ SSO NGCE
Project map finish method   X        
Project Milestone milestone type = “digital map finishing”   X        
Project Milestone milestone date started   X        
Project Milestone Progress milestone progress amount   X        
Project Milestone Progress milestone progress unit = “percent”   X        
Project Milestone milestone date completed   X        
Project Milestone milestone type = “maps to NGCE”   X        
Project Milestone milestone date started   X        
Project Milestone milestone date completed   X        
Project Milestone milestone type = “maps to printer”           X
Project Milestone milestone date completed           X


C. SSURGO Digitizing, Certification, and Archiving

NASIS Table Name Data Element State
Office
SSRO NSSC NHQ SSO NGCE
Project Milestone milestone type = “digitize maps”   X        
Project Milestone milestone date started    X        
Project Milestone Progress milestone progress amount    X        
Project Milestone Progress milestone progress unit = “percent”    X        
Project Milestone milestone date completed    X        
Project Milestone milestone type = “SSURGO digital review”    X        
Project Milestone milestone date started    X        
Project Milestone milestone type = “SSURGO certification”    X        
Project Milestone milestone date completed    X        
Project Milestone milestone type = “SSURGO archived”  X          
Project Milestone milestone date completed  X          


D. Manuscript and Project Development

1. Technical Edit and Review

NASIS Table Name Data Element State
Office
SSRO NSSC NHQ SSO NGCE
Project Milestone milestone type = “technical edit”   X        
Project Milestone milestone date started   X        
Project Milestone milestone date completed   X        
Project Milestone milestone type = “technical review”   X        
Project Milestone milestone date completed   X        


2. English Edit

NASIS Table Name Data Element State
Office
SSRO NSSC NHQ SSO NGCE
Project English edit site   X X      
Project Milestone milestone type = “English edit received”   X        
Project Milestone milestone date completed   X        
Project Milestone milestone type = “English edit”   X        
Project Milestone milestone date started   X        
Project Milestone milestone date completed   X        


3. Products

NASIS Table Name Data Element State
Office
SSRO NSSC NHQ SSO NGCE
Project Product product type X X        
Project Product product description X X        
Project Product scheduled delivery   X        
Project Product actual delivery X          
Project Product availability status X