USGS - science for a changing world

U.S. Geological Survey Manual

502.1 - Fundamental Science Practices: Foundation Policy


OPR: Office of Science Quality and Integrity

Instruction: This replaces Survey Manual (SM) chapter SM 502.1 - Fundamental Science Practices: Foundation Policy, dated May 24, 2006.

1. Purpose and Scope. The scientific reputation of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) for excellence, integrity, and objectivity is one of the Bureau’s most important assets. This reputation for reliable science brings authority to data and findings, creates and protects long-term credibility, and ensures that the public trust is met. This chapter provides the foundation for a set of fundamental principles that are detailed in accompanying policy chapters. These principles collectively are USGS Fundamental Science Practices (FSP) that underlie USGS science activities, uphold the Bureau's scientific reputation, and underscore its mandate to provide reliable science to address pressing societal issues. The FSP also promote the broad release and communication of results of USGS science activities in information products (SM 1100.1).  This policy applies to all employees and science activities funded by the USGS.

2. Authority. The USGS, in fulfilling the scientific mission in its Organic Act, is authorized and obligated to preserve scientific excellence, integrity, and objectivity and to ensure the effective dissemination and public communication of its science.

3. References.

A. SM 502.2 - Fundamental Science Practices: Planning and Conducting Data Collection and Research
B. SM 502.3 - Fundamental Science Practices: Peer Review
C. SM 502.4 - Fundamental Science Practices: Review, Approval, and Release of Information Products
D. SM 205.18 - Authority to Approve Information Products
E. SM 500.25 - Scientific Integrity
F. 305 DM 3 - Integrity of Scientific and Scholarly Activities
G. USGS Information Quality Guidelines (Website)
H. Fundamental Science Practices of the USGS (Website)

4. Policy.

A. The USGS FSP govern how scientific investigations, research, and activities are planned and conducted (SM 502.2) and how information products are reviewed and approved for release and dissemination (SM 502.3 and SM 502.4). The choice of the scientific work to be accomplished however is in the purview of the Bureau’s science planning process. The FSP policies represent the minimum requirements to which all USGS organizational units must adhere. Individual organizational units may put more stringent requirements in place as deemed necessary.

B. Issues with regard to scientific excellence, integrity, and objectivity are dealt with in accordance with established requirements of the Office of Management and Budget, the Department of the Interior, and the USGS codes of scientific conduct (305 DM 3 and SM 500.25).

C. The procedures and guidance information that support FSP policy, available at the public FSP Web site ( and the internal FSP Web site, must also be followed.

5. Responsibilities. Everyone in the USGS involved in science activities is responsible for complying with FSP. Designated officials have specific roles in establishing the policies and other requirements that underpin FSP:

A. Director. The USGS Director has final authority and responsibility for FSP and for the excellence, integrity, and objectivity of USGS science and information products. The Director consults with the Executive Leadership Team (ELT), which is a deliberative body comprised of senior policy-level leaders of the major bureau components that makes recommendations to ensure the successful delivery of the USGS mission.

B. Associate Directors and Regional Executives. Associate Directors and Regional Executives set policy for how scientific investigations, research, and activities are carried out and how information products are reviewed and approved for release and dissemination. They provide oversight for the processes and policies that govern FSP. They collaborate with the Office of Science Quality and Integrity to address issues or take corrective action with regard to these policies.

C. Office of Science Quality and Integrity (OSQI). OSQI executes the policies of USGS FSP, including the appointing of some of the officials who approve information products for release (SM 205.18). The OSQI collaborates with the ELT to address issues or take corrective action regarding the execution of these policies. The OSQI also maintains the policy documents and procedures that pertain to FSP, providing overall stewardship of these policies.

D. Fundamental Science Practices Advisory Committee (FSPAC).D. Fundamental Science Practices Advisory Committee (FSPAC). The FSPAC serves as the official committee for providing support for FSP implementation, including monitoring FSP and advising on FSP and related policies and practices to ensure the objectivity and quality of the Bureau's science information products. This support includes but is not limited to, addressing pending and new FSP issues, listening to concerns about FSP, and developing recommendations for resolving issues.


/s/ Karen D. Baker                                                                                          December 16, 2011
_____________________________________________                              ______________

Karen D. Baker                                                                                               Date
Associate Director for Administration and Enterprise Information


Return to Survey Manual Table of Contents
Return to Survey Manual Index
Return to Survey Manual Home Page

Accessibility FOIA Privacy Policies and Notices

Take Pride in America logo logo U.S. Department of the Interior | U.S. Geological Survey
Page Contact Information: OA, Office of Policy and Analysis
Last modification: 30-Aug-2017@11:07