Requests for Information Related to the List of Gaging Stations for the Hydro-Climatic Data Network (HCDN)

In Reply Refer To:                          December 22, 1989
WGS-Mail Stop 415


Subject:   PROGRAMS AND PLANS--Requests for Information Related to
                               the List of Gaging Stations for the
                               Hydro-Climatic Data Network (HCDN)

Office of Surface Water Technical Memorandum No. 90.02, concerning
requests for information pertaining to the HCDN gage lists, raised
some questions regarding policy on response to such requests and
on release of such material.  This memorandum clarifies the Office
of Surface Water (OSW) policy on the release of the HCDN lists or
related data to outside requestors.

As noted in OSW Technical Memorandum No. 90.02, there have been a
number of requests for preliminary versions of the HCDN lists or
for analysis of stations in a region that would give the requestor
such a list.  An example is a recent request from an agency which
asks District Offices within a study area to review a list of
stations and indicate those that meet criteria essentially the
same as those developed for the HCDN list.

OSW Technical Memorandum No. 89.15, an earlier policy memorandum
concerning HCDN, stated: the interest of accuracy and to avoid favoritism in
     distributing USGS data, we are not honoring any of these
     requests until the list is finalized in a Survey report.  We
     request that you refrain from distributing the list in whole
     or in part until then as well.

In responding to any request for information, two issues are of
concern.  The first is a long-standing custom of acknowledging
requests and providing data, if the request is for data, at the
earliest opportunity to the requestor.  A request for discharge
information for specific stations or a request for names of
stations with more than a specified length of record clearly are
data requests.

A second issue, in the case of a request for interpretive
material, is the release of complete and accurate information to
all potential users without partiality.  The analysis and
interpretation that has been required to establish the HCDN list
and data set has not yet been completed or approved for
publication.  The list and the data are being extensively reviewed
to ensure the records satisfy specific criteria, and the WATSTORE
files are being critically examined to ensure that the data are
accurate and reliable.  It is, therefore, important that the HCDN
list not be released in whole or in part until it has been
approved for publication.

We have been assured that the HCDN list and data will be released
to the open file by March l990.  We are anxious to provide the
list and the data to the community of hydrologic and climatic
researchers (including those in USGS and those funded by USGS
grant monies) to facilitate their research, but we do want to
avoid false starts and wasted efforts that could result from the
use of an incomplete and unapproved list.  It would certainly be
advantageous for anyone desiring to use such information for
climate research to wait until that time because the HCDN
information will have been carefully reviewed.  The data set will
be made available to potential users on CD-ROM, making it
convenient for the users and ensuring that all users receive
identical data for research.

In responding to requests for data or for HCDN information,
Districts should acknowledge the request and respond in a manner
consistent with Division policy on release of data and
interpretive information.  In filling data requests, appropriate
qualifications should be provided if data in WATSTORE or from
other sources are suspect.  Interpretive material should not be
released prior to Director's approval for publication.  For
requests for HCDN or equivalent information, requestors should be
asked to wait until the complete and fully reviewed data set is
released to the open file in March 1990.  Compact discs containing
both the discharge data, and other related information for the
HCDN stations can be provided to requestors at that time, or
shortly thereafter.

                                  C. W. Boning, Chief
                                  Office of Surface Water

This memorandum clarifies OSW Technical Memorandum No. 90.02.

WRD Distribution:  A, B, S, FO, PO