Pricing Policy for Information Products and Services provided by the U.S. Geological Survey, Water Resources Division

Date: Fri, 31 Jul 1998 16:41:03 -0500
To: "E  - All WRD Employees"
From: "Robert M. Hirsch, Chief Hydrologist, USGS"  (by way of Jan
Subject: WRD Memorandum No. 98.03--Pricing Policy for Information Products
 and Services provided by the U.S. Geological Survey, Water Resources 
Cc: "  WRD Archive File,  "

The following WRD Memorandum 98.03 is being distributed by hard copy with
attachments.  The memo follows without attachments.

In Reply Refer To:
Mail Stop 441

                                                July 31, 1998


Subject:   Pricing Policy for Information Products and Services
           provided by the U.S. Geological Survey, Water Resources

The following policy provides guidelines for recovering the full cost of
information products and services provided by the U.S. Geological Survey
(USGS), Water Resources Division (WRD).  Guidelines contained in this
policy are effective October 1, 1998, and rescind WRD Memorandum No. 86.71,
dated June 18, 1986.


It is WRD's policy to recover full costs for the sale of information
products and for providing services to the Federal and non-Federal sector.
Full cost recovery includes all direct and indirect costs to any part of
the Federal Government for providing a good, resource, or service (Federal
Register, Vol. 58, No. 134, 1993, p. 38145).  The policy covers pricing
information products and services provided to customers through
conventional means such as the telephone, written communications, floppy
disks, etc., as well as the distribution of data and information over the
Internet.  Also discussed are general policy guidelines and exceptions
(such as for educational purposes) to the WRD pricing policy.

Pricing Information Products.  In implementing this pricing policy, the
price of products will be set at a level that will recover reproduction and
distribution costs.  These costs include direct and indirect costs
associated with the dissemination of information products.  Costs will not
be recovered for activities associated with collecting the data, processing
the data to ensure accuracy, analyzing the data, or establishing databases
for archiving the data.

Actual costs should be recovered for media used to provide water data and
water information to customers.  For example, when supplying a user with a
magnetic tape containing water data, the actual cost of the magnetic tape
and mailing or shipping charges are added to the labor costs for processing
the data request.

Services.  User fees will be charged for providing services to the Federal
and non-Federal sector.  The user fees will be set at a level to recover
the full costs associated with providing the service to a specific
recipient.  Wherever possible, user fees shall be set as rates rather than
fixed dollar amounts in order to reflect changes in costs to WRD for the
reproduction and distribution of water data and information.  For example,
personnel services provided by WRD should be charged at a rate of dollars
per hour.  The customer requesting data should be notified of the estimated
time required to process the data request.

Distribution of Data and Information Over the Internet

No costs will be recovered for information posted to the Internet for all
to use.  This includes metadata about the USGS, fact sheets, reports, and
other traditionally free products, including published water data from the

Fees will be charged for making data sets available to a specific customer.
For example, a customer may request a batch file of data which requires the
USGS employee to download the data, organize it, and place the data in the
depot of a file server in order for the customer to use the File Transfer
Protocol (ftp) to obtain the data from the file server. The customer is
charged on an hourly basis for making the data available to them.  Pricing
schedules for information products and services provided by the WRD are
shown in Tables 1 and 2 of the attachment.

General Policy Guidelines

The following are general guidelines for pricing water data and information

1.  The WRD's Pricing Schedule does not apply to the processing of Freedom
of Information Act (FOIA) requests.  These requests are processed using the
U.S. Department of the Interior's uniform pricing schedule for FOIA
requests.  See the Code of Federal Regulations, 43 CFR, 1997 ed., Pt. 2,
Appendix A.  However, if a customer makes a FOIA request for water
information and data that are available for sale to the public at prices
set in an established fee schedule, the customer will be notified that the
information and data are available for sale at prices established by the
fee schedule.  This request is then processed under the WRD pricing policy
and not the FOIA.

2.  Customers will be charged a minimum fee of $100 for processing water
information and data requests requiring over 30 minutes to process.
Customers will not be charged for requests taking less than 30 minutes to

Exceptions to the Water Resources Division's Pricing Policy

Cost recovery fees can be waived for the following organizations, persons,
and situations if it is determined that waiving the fees will be in the
public interest:

       o USGS cooperators - current and past
       o congressional requests
       o for any person if the information request can be processed in a

         short period of time (less than 30 minutes) by conducting a
         short telephone conversation, photocopying a few pages, or
         distributing a report.

Cost recovery fees can also be waived for data and information provided to
further bona fide outreach activities.  Examples are data or information
provided to:

        o K-12 students or teachers
        o Public libraries
        o College teachers for instructional use
        o Educational activities of nonprofit organizations and college
        o Potential cooperators, for program development


1. Office of Management and Budget, 1993, Circular A-25, "User Charges:"
Register,  v. 58, no. 134, p. 38,142-38,146.


                        Robert M. Hirsch
                        Chief Hydrologist


Distribution:   E

This memorandum supersedes WRD Memorandum No. 86.71.

* Robert M. Hirsch                  *
* 409 National Center                       703-648-5215      *
* U.S. Geological Survey                    fax 703-648-5002  *
* Reston, VA 20192                                            *