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MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING

to develop an

INTEGRATED TAXONOMIC INFORMATION SYSTEM

and a

Strategy for Coordinating Taxonomic Database Development,
Maintenance, and Support
Among the

U.S. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY (EPA)


NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION (NOAA)

of the
U.S. Department of Commerce

U.S. GEOLOGICAL SURVEY (USGS)
and the
NATIONAL BIOLOGICAL SERVICE (NBS)
of the
U.S. Department of the Interior

AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH SERVICE (ARS)
and the
NATURAL RESOURCES CONSERVATION SERVICE (NRCS)
of the
U.S. Department of Agriculture

I. INTRODUCTION

Access to consistent, scientifically credible taxonomic information is essential to many governmental activities. These activities include natural resource management for sustained use, land owner assistance, environmental monitoring, waste management, environmental regulation, and biotechnology development. As one part of these activities, resource use and conservation goals must be established. These goals will rely upon the contributions of many agencies, and, in part, on accurate inventories of the diversity and distribution of biological resources. The storage and retrieval of biological data require a high quality, well documented and continuously updated source of taxonomic information. Components of the needed system already exist. Examples of taxonomic databases of potential utility that can be shared in support of this effort include BIOTA and the National Fungi Collection (ARS), PLANTS (NRCS), and the National Oceanographic Data Center database.

II. PURPOSE

The purpose of this Memorandum of Understanding ("the MOU”) is to establish a general framework of cooperation among the Federal agencies to develop, scientifically review the content of, continuously improve, and maintain a taxonomic information system to be used by the signatory agencies and others. The MOU will provide a foundation for the agencies to work together on issues of common interest and upon which the agencies can jointly plan and carry out mutually beneficial programs, projects, and activities.

III. AUTHORITIES

ARS enters the MOU pursuant to the Food, Agriculture, Conservation, and Trade Act of 1990 (P.L. 101-624) and at 7 U.S.C. 3121(3).

EPA enters the MOU pursuant to section 104(B)(2) of the Clean Water Act.

NBS enters the MOU pursuant to the Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act 16 U.S.C. 742(a)(4). NOAA enters the MOU pursuant to its authority at 33 U.S.C. 883d and 16 U.S.C. 661.

NRCS enters the MOU pursuant to its authority through Conservation Operations, P.L. 74-46, 49 Stat. 163, U.S.C. 590a(l) and (3); the Soil Conservation Domestic Allotment Act, as amended (16 U.S.C.) and the authority of the Soil and Water Resources Conservation Act of 1977, P.L. 95-192, 91 Stat. 1407, 16 U.S.C. 2001 et seq.

USGS enters the MOU pursuant to its authority through the Organic Act, 43 U.S.C. 31(a), and the Economy Act of 1932, 31 U.S.C. 1535.

IV. STATEMENT OF MUTUAL INTERESTS AND BENEFITS

The agencies agree that it is in their common interest and to their mutual benefit to work cooperatively on taxonomic data acquisition, data quality review and improvement, information system implementation and maintenance in a manner consistent with each agency's mission and objectives. Coordinated interagency activity allows the agencies to share expertise, facilities, equipment, and data, and make efficient use of funds and provide consistent information to the public.

V. RESPONSIBILITIES

A. The signatory agencies will establish an Interagency Taxonomy Steering Committee (ITSC) at the national level to guide interagency collaboration on taxonomic and nomenclatural data, databases, and information systems for biological organisms.

B. Membership on the ITSC will consist of no more than two representatives each of the Federal agencies that are signatory to the MOU and of the Smithsonian Institution.

C. The ITSC will establish Work Groups of signatory agency staff and others at the ITSC’s discretion, to address specific tasks, such as ensuring the scientific credibility and review of data system content, data system organization and development, and maintenance.

D. As desirable and appropriate, ITSC will coordinate program support functions, and subject to the availability of funds, provide staff, equipment, or funding to create, review, and improve a taxonomic information system. The ITSC will:

1. Integrate taxonomic databases into an information system that can be utilized by all signatory agencies, other Federal agencies and the public;

2. Collaborate on research and evaluation programs;

3. Establish peer review teams of taxonomic specialists to revise taxonomic and nomenclatural treatments;

4. House the data base within the facilities of a signatory agency;

5. Exchange information and resource expertise;

6. Make taxonomic information more accessible to its intended users;

7. Work to develop better links between the applied needs of the taxonomic community and the Federal government’s applied needs.

E. The ITSC will develop an annual work agenda for support of the Integrated Taxonomic Information System (“ITIS”) for the following fiscal year that will outline initiatives and projects in connection with taxonomic data acquisition, data quality review and improvement, information system implementation and maintenance that the signatory agencies will pursue and jointly coordinate in that fiscal year and beyond. The signatory agencies will develop individual work plans that will reflect the initiatives of the ITIS work agenda and identify the resources required and available to meet the mutual objectives of the ITSC.

VI. DELEGATION

The signatories may enter into supplemental agreements within the scope of this agreement.

VII. MODIFICATION, TERMINATION, AND OTHER CONDITIONS

The MOU does not obligate funds. Any reimbursement or contribution of funds by one signatory of the MOU to another will be handled in accordance with applicable laws, regulations, and procedures.

The MOU may be modified or amended upon the request of any signatory party with the concurrence of all others. Any signatory party may terminate its participation in the MOU with written notice to all other signatories 60 days prior to such withdrawal. Nothing in the MOU alters the statutory authorities and responsibilities of the signatory agencies. It is intended to facilitate those authorities through cooperative action.

It is expected that this partnership may expand as other agencies data contributors, reviewers, and users pursue collaborative efforts on taxonomic data acquisition, scientific review, and information sharing. Such expanded collaborations will not require replacement or modification of the MOU.

Nothing herein shall be construed as binding the signatories to expend in any one fiscal year any sum in excess of appropriations made by the Congress or administratively allocated for the purposes of the MOU for the fiscal year, or to involve the signatory agencies in any contract or other obligation for the expenditure of money in excess of such appropriations or allocations.

VIII. IMPLEMENTATION

The MOU becomes effective when signed by the signatory agencies and shall remain in effect until modified or terminated.

(Signed)                              
March 5, 1996
FLOYD HORN
Administrator, Agricultural Research Service
Date
(Signed)                               November 1, 1995
CAROL BROWNER
Administrator, Environmental Protection Agency
Date
(Signed)                               February 8, 1996
H. RONALD PULLIAM
Director, National Biological Service
Date
(Signed)                               February 27, 1996
KATHRYN D. SULLIVAN
Chief Scientist, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Date
(Signed)                               February 12, 1996
PAUL W. JOHNSON
Chief, Natural Resources Conservation Service
Date
(Signed)                               February 12, 1996
GORDON P. EATON
Director, U.S. Geological Survey
Date


Modification 1 to Memorandum of Understanding for Interagency Taxonomic Information System (April 12, 2000)

The name "Interagency Taxonomic Information System" is changed to "Integrated Taxonomic Information System".



Modification 2 to Memorandum of Understanding for Integrated Taxonomic Information System

The Association for Biodiversity Information is added as a partner of the Integrated Taxonomic Information System. The MOU and partnership becomes effective when signed and shall remain in effect until modified or terminated.

(Signed)                               September 13, 2001
MARK SCHAEFER
President and CEO, Association for Biodiversity Information
Date


Modification 3 to Memorandum of Understanding for Integrated Taxonomic Information System

The Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History is added as a partner of the Integrated Taxonomic Information System. The MOU and partnership becomes effective when signed and shall remain in effect until modified or terminated.

(Signed)                             
July 8, 2004
Cristián Samper
Director
Smithsonian Institution
National Museum of Natural History
Date


Modification 4 to Memorandum of Understanding for Integrated Taxonomic Information System

The National Park Service is added as a partner of the Integrated Taxonomic Information System. NPS enters the MOU pursuant to its authority through the National Park Service Act of 1916, the National Parks Omnibus Act of 1998, and provisions of individual park enabling acts. The MOU and partnership becomes effective when signed and shall remain in effect until modified or terminated.

(Signed)                             
January 8, 2007
Mary Bomar
Director
National Park Service
Date


Modification 5 to Memorandum of Understanding for Integrated Taxonomic Information System

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is added as a partner of the Integrated Taxonomic Information System. The MOU and partnership become effective when signed and shall remain in effect until modified or terminated.

ITIS taxonomy is based on the latest scientific consensus available, and is provided as a general reference source for interested parties. However, it is not a legal authority for statutory or regulatory purposes. While every effort has been made to provide the most reliable and up-to-date information available, ultimate legal requirements with respect to species are contained in provisions of treaties to which the United States is a party, wildlife statutes, regulations, and any applicable notices that have been published in the Federal Register. For further information, please contact the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at: 1-800-344-WILD or email: contact2@fws.gov.

(Signed)                             
March 23, 2010
Jeffrey L. Underwood
(for) Rowan W. Gould
Acting Director
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Date
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