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Acquire > Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)
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Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)

A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), via the USGS Agreements Coordination Information System (ACIS), is required for data acquisition/sharing with other government agencies. Sample and existing MOUs are accessible via ACIS.

What is an MOU?

Agreements with Federal, State, or local agencies that set forth basic policies and procedures governing the interagency relationship on matters of mutual interest and responsibility. Agreements to establish affiliates to the Earth Science Information Center (ESIC) network are considered policy agreements and follow the guidelines for MOUs.

Why Use an MOU?

MOUs can serve as umbrella mechanisms for future Interagency Agreements (IAAs), such as cost-share, work-share, or data-exchange agreements. MOUs are typically less specific than an IAA and require an additional document to obligate funds if required. Financial arrangements should be included in an MOU to explain whether it is the intent of the agencies to perform work for and bill the other agency or whether it is the intent of the agencies to work together but not exchange funds.

What About International Agreements?

International MOUs are legally binding agreements between USGS and foreign government agencies and involve continuing or substantial cooperation in the conduct of a particular program or activity. International MOUs typically serve as umbrella mechanisms for project annexes.


  • Chatfield, T., Selbach, R. February, 2011. Data Management for Data Stewards. Data Management Training Workshop. Bureau of Land Management (BLM).