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January 7, 2014
In Reply Refer To:
1283, 1278 (870) P
Instruction Memorandum No. 2014-029
Expires: 09/30/2015
To:                   All Washington Office and Field Office Officials
From:               Assistant Director, Business, Fiscal and Information Resources Management
Subject:           Disclaimer Statement Policy for Datasets Held by the Bureau of Land Management
Program Area: Data Management.
Purpose: The purpose of this Instruction Memorandum (IM) is to transmit the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) policy on the use of disclaimer statements for any geospatial data held by the BLM. This IM establishes standardized language for disclaimer statements based on Manual Section (MS) 1278, External Access to BLM Information, Chapter 2, Records Access Categories (RACs) and FOIA Requests. This IM also provides criteria on which disclaimer statement to use. The use of a disclaimer statement on an alphanumeric or geospatial dataset will accomplish the following:
  • Ensure that data records released includes uniform language that is consistent, clear and concise for proper labeling,
  • Lessen the chance that data records are misinterpreted or misused by the BLM personnel, other agencies or the public,
  • Minimize legal liability to the BLM,
  • Solicitor review is only required for a limited number of statements,
  • Reduce time spent populating these metadata elements. 

Policy/Action: Language has been standardized for documenting three metadata elements. These elements describe: (1) how data that are held by the BLM can be used (use constraints), (2) whether or not it can be shared internally or published externally (access constraints), and (3) holding BLM free of liability on how the use was interpreted (distributor liability). For geospatial datasets, the three elements must be consistent with the Federal Geospatial Data Committee (FGDC) content standards.

With the adoption and eventual migration to the International Standard Organization’s (ISO) metadata standard and the North American Profile (NAP), and the use of ESRI software, users should know where and how to edit the constraints in ArcCatalog using the ArcGIS editor. The access and use constraints and distribution liability statement are all under Resource Constraints in ArcCatalog. The Distribution Liability is located under Legal Constraints, Use Limitation. The Use Constraints will map to General Constraints, Use Limitation. When you upgrade metadata with an existing Access Constraint, the constraint goes into Legal Constraints, Other Constraints.

Each dataset (geospatial, alphanumeric) that is held by the BLM must include one of the seven (7) standard disclaimer statements in the metadata associated with the dataset (documented in Attachment 1).
1.      Records Access Category 1A – External Public (Non-BLM) Data 
These are not BLM data and are intended for internal use. BLM has received this data from an external source without restrictions on how the data is used or distributed. It does not contain sensitive data as described in the Privacy Act or Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).   
2.      Records Access Category 1A - Public Data
These are data made available to the public and are considered public domain. These data contain no sensitive information which would be prevented from disclosure by Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), the Privacy Act or other laws.
3.      Records Access Category 1B - Public Data, Reviewed before Release
This is BLM data that may contain protected information that must be considered for segregation prior to release to the public.
4.      Records Access Category 2 - NonPublic NonBLM Data, Data Sharing Agreement 
These are not BLM data. BLM has a copy of the data for internal use only; made available to the BLM by formal or informal data sharing agreements with another agency or organization. This data might contain sensitive information and can only be released by the source agency, subject to FOIA exemptions.  
5.      Records Access Category 2 - NonPublic Data, Internal Use
These are BLM data that could contain information that should not be disclosed to the public because of the Privacy Act or FOIA. It may be requested by the public through FOIA.
6.      Records Access Category 2 - Privacy Data
These are BLM data which might contain sensitive information, and may not be releasable under the Privacy Act. Access to these records is limited to Authorized Personnel Only.
7.      Records Access Category 2 - NonPublic Unverified Data

These are BLM data that are unverified, pre-decisional data and are not releasable. They may be available for internal use. FOIA exemptions might apply to all or part of the data. 

This disclaimer policy will apply to datasets that the BLM holds (has possession of), including non-BLM data. These datasets can be electronic, stored on computers, in digital form, geospatial, or a printed copy of the data. This policy does not address other metadata elements, such as the quality of the data.

For a printed copy, the appropriate disclaimer statement should be placed where it is clearly visible. If the type of data in an electronic/digital dataset changes, the disclaimer statement will need to be replaced with the appropriate statement.

This policy does not apply to BLM publications. External Affairs officials are responsible for oversight and review of publications, ensuring suitability and conformity with BLM policy and mission requirements.

Timeframe: Any newly published BLM data, external or internal, from the date of this IM forward must include one of the seven standard disclaimer statements in its metadata.   All existing external datasets must include one of the seven disclaimer statements in its metadata by September 30, 2014.

Budget Impact: Minimal budget impact.

Background: BLM publishes data for use by BLM personnel, other agencies and the public. The BLM needs to insure that users of datasets understand how the data can be used, the user’s responsibilities in using the data and that the BLM will not be held liable for how the data is used and interpreted. 

The Corporate Metadata Advisory Team (CMAT) is a nationally sanctioned team composed of nine members and two advisory members. The team provides leadership regarding all business functions within the BLM pertaining to corporate metadata. They coordinate and lead activities to ensure that corporate metadata are created, made accessible, and provide needed information about the BLMs business and its supporting information. 

Manual/Handbook Sections Affected: BLM 1283 Data Administration and Management Handbook, Metadata Management; BLM 1278 Freedom of Information Act. 

Coordination: Corporate Metadata Advisory Team, State Data Administrators, GIS Managers, WO-210 Geospatial Program Lead, WO-600 Public Affairs Specialist,WO-870 Bureau Data Administrator, WO FOIA Officer. 

Contacts: Questions may be directed to Christine Hawkinson, Bureau Data Administrator at
(202) 912-7373, chawkins@blm.gov; or Tom Chatfield, Corporate Metadata Advisory Team Chair (303) 236-1936, tchatfie@blm.gov.
Signed by:
Janine Velasco
Assistant Director
Business, Fiscal and Information Resources   
Authenticated by:
Robert M. Williams
Division of IRM Governance,WO-860
1 Attachment

Last updated: 01-24-2014