NAO 212-15 and Procedural Directives


NAO 212-15 (Signed) (PDF)
NAO 212-15 (Signed, with transmittal pages) (PDF)

Effective: November 4, 2010


This NOAA Administrative Order (NAO) establishes the Department of Commerce (DOC) National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Environmental Data Management Policy. This policy provides high-level direction that guides procedures, decisions, and actions regarding environmental data and information management throughout NOAA. Further guidance on how this policy is to be implemented will be provided in procedural directives that address the full data lifecycle of all domains ofNOAA environmental information and records.


This NAO applies to all NOAA environmental data and to the personnel and organizations that manage these data, unless exempted by statutory or regulatory authority.


.01 Environmental data will be visible, accessible and independently understandable to users, except where limited by law, regulation, policy (such as those applicable to personally identifiable information or protected critical infrastructure information or proprietary trade information) or by security requirements.

.02 Management ofNOAA environmental data will be based upon an end-to-end data management lifecycle that includes:


Approved Procedural Directives, which provide detailed guidance on the above listed environmental data management lifecycle components, can be found on the EDMC website. These approved Procedural Directives inherit the requirements and authority of this policy.


.01 The NOAA Chief Information Officer (CIO) shall be responsible for managing this Order in consultation with the CIO Council, the NOAA Observing Systems Council (NOSC) and the Environmental Data Management Committee (EDMC).

.02 The EDMC shall identify, develop, and approve Procedural Directives associated with this Administrative Order.

.03 Data Stewards shall ensure compliance with this policy and all related Procedural Directives throughout the data management lifecycle.


.01 Environmental Data - recorded and derived observations and measurements of the physical, chemical, biological, geological, and geophysical properties and conditions of the oceans, atmosphere, space environment, sun, and solid earth, as well as correlative data, such as socio-economic data, related documentation, and metadata. Media, including voice recordings and photographs, may be included.

.02 Data Stewards - individuals who are responsible for establishing, maintaining, and being accountable for the quality, integrity, documentation, and preservation of environmental data. This responsibility extends from the Assistant Administrator down to the individuals who are most directly involved with the environmental data.

.03 Data Management - consists of two major activities conducted in coordination: data management services and data stewardship. They constitute a comprehensive end-to-end process including movement of data and information from the observing system sensors to the data user. This process includes the acquisition, quality control, metadata cataloging, validation, reprocessing, storage, retrieval, dissemination, and archival of data.

.04 Data Management Services - a subset of Data Management and includes adherence to agreed-upon standards; ingesting data, developing collections, and creating products; maintaining data bases; ensuring permanent, secure archival; providing both user-friendly and machine-interoperable access; assisting users; migrating services to emerging technologies; and responding to user feedback.

.05 Data Stewardship - a subset of Data Management and consists of the application of rigorous analyses and oversight to ensure that data sets meet the needs of users. This includes documenting measurement practices and processing practices (metadata); providing feedback on observing system performance; inter-comparison of data sets for validation; reprocessing (incorporate new data, apply new algorithms, perform bias corrections, integrate/blend data sets from different sources or observing systems); and recommending corrective action for errant or non-optimal operations.


The Office of the Chief Information Office (OCIO) will maintain a list of applicable authorities and references and will provide access to their electronic editions. The following items are some of the primary reference materials related to this Order.

.01 "Guidelines for Ensuring and Maximizing the Quality, Objectivity, Utility, and Integrity of Information Disseminated by Federal Agencies" - OMB issuance that implements Section 515 of Public Law 106-554; intended to "provide policy and procedural guidance to federal agencies for ensuring and maximizing the quality, objectivity, utility, and integrity of information (including statistical information) disseminated by federal agencies."

.02 NOAA Information Quality Guidelines - NOAA's policy and procedures document implementing Section 515 of the Treasury and General Government Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2001 (Public Law 106-554).

.03 NOAA Administrative Order 205-01 Records Management.

.04 NOAA Records Disposition Schedules- Specific legal authorities for disposition of all NOAA's records in all media.

.05 The Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (44USC §§3501 etseq.) - and Government Paperwork Elimination Act (44 USC §§1701 etseq.) - Require Federal agencies to reduce the paperwork burden on the public and to improve Federal information policymaking and practices.

.06 Title 36 CFR XII, Subchapter B. Federal Records Management. Subchapter B specifies policies for Federal agencies' records management programs relating to proper records creation and maintenance, adequate documentation, and records disposition. It is the implementing authority for the Federal Records Act.

.07 NOAA Records Disposition Handbook - documents NOAA's records disposition schedules.

.08 National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) records management regulations (36 CFR 1220-1238).

.09 OMB Circular A-16. Revised, Coordination of Geographic Information and Related Spatial Data Activities.

.10 OMB Circular A-130, Management of Federal Information Resources.

.11 The E-Government Act of 2002 (44 U.S.C. 3602 etseq.) -promotes enhanced access to Federal Government information and services in a manner consistent with laws and regulations.

.12 Federal Enterprise Architecture Geospatial Profile, version 1.1

.13 Federal Enterprise Architecture Records Management Profile, version 1.1. The FEA RM Profile was developed jointly by NARA, OMB, and the Fed CIO Council. Provides a framework that cross-cuts the inter-related FEA reference models. The RM Profile explains how the reference models provide a context for embedding recordkeeping requirements and effective records management practices into agency business processes.




This order supersedes NOAA Administrative Order 212-15, Management of Environmental and Geospatial Data and Information, dated December 2, 2008.

An electronic copy of this Order will be posted in place of the superseded Order on the NOAA Office of the Chief Administrative Officer website under the NOAA Administrative Issuances Section.

Under Secretary of Commerce
for Oceans and Atmosphere

Office of Primary Interest:
NOAA Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO)