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Geospatial Research Unit




This memorandum of understanding (MOU) is entered into between West Virginia University (WVU), Research Corporation (RC), and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS).

AUTHORITY: Soil Conservation and Domestic Allotment Act of 1935, as amended by 16 U.S.C. 590 (a-f)


NRCS is authorized under terms of various statues to conduct conservation planning and provide technical assistance to USDA program participants to conserve and improve soil, water, vegetation, wildlife, and related resources and reduce damage by floods and sedimentation. This assistance is provided in cooperation with various Federal agencies, State and local governments, non-governmental organizations, colleges and universities, and individuals. NRCS has staff expertise to provide assistance relative to natural resource policy and technology.


The purpose of this MOU is to provide a basis for cooperation between NRCS and WVURC regarding the development of a Geospatial Research Unit (GRU) of the National Soil Survey Center (Lincoln, Nebraska), which provides a focus for geospatial research and development. Long-term cooperation will be defined using agreements developed under the Cooperative Ecosystem Study Units (CESU) Network of which WVU is a member.

This MOU will benefit WVURC by acknowledging the desire and interest on the part of NRCS to cooperatively implement the vision and goals while ensuring permanence of the GRU.

This memorandum will benefit NRCS by ensuring agency support for collaboration with WVURC and further strengthening of the existing partnership.

The GRU will facilitate the innovative use of geographic information science, geo-spatial technologies, and other technologies to support the Soil Survey Division and the National Cooperative Soil Survey business needs and those of our partners. Technological innovations will be used to expedite business processes, including but not limited to, data collection, archiving, data and information access, dissemination, analysis, and interpretation. The GRU will focus on developing and integrating advanced technologies that deliver NRCS resource information to the user community in a format that is both accessible and readily understood.

The GRU will be aligned with the Division of Plant and Soil Sciences in the Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Design at WVU.

The GRU will be under the supervision of the National Leader for Soil Business Systems at the National Soil Survey Center in Lincoln, NE, and will be national in scope and will draw upon collaboration and outreach by staff members and partners, including but not limited to Universities active in CESU Network of which West Virginia University is a member.

The GRU will be lead by the National Leader for Soil Business Systems and the WVU Liaison to the National Soil Survey Center selected by WVURC and NRCS, who will be responsible to insure that administrative rules and regulations for their respective entities are followed properly. The individuals in these positions will work collaboratively with the Director of the National Soil Survey Center to ensure that all research and development projects are consistent with the goals of the Soil Survey Division and the National Cooperative Soil Survey.


A. WVURC will –

1. Make a good faith reasonable effort to provide on-campus space for the GRU an agreed to rental rate, defined in a separate rental agreement and reviewed annually.

2. Identify WVU staff to serve as WVU Liasion to the National Soil Survey Center and provide leadership to University staff located at the Center while working cooperatively with the NRCS staff in Morgantown and the National Leader for Soil Business Systems

B. NRCS will –

1. Define and establish a mechanism by which funds will be allocated to support the GRU

2. Identify NRCS staff to serve as National Leader for Soil Business Systems and provide day to day administrative and technical guidance to NRCS personnel located at the GRU while working cooperatively with the WVU staff to support the mission of the GRU.

C. It is mutually agreed upon by both parties that –

1. They will work with the National Soil Survey Center to jointly define and implement the vision for the GRU and develop a strategic plan supported by annual work plans that fits into the overall business plan of the National Soil Survey Center.

2. Address issues of concern or interest for the GRU.

3. They will respect Federal and WVU procurement guidance and regulations specific to budget allocation process and procedures.

4. This MOU in no way restricts either party from participating in similar activities with other public or private agencies, organizations, and individuals.

5. Each party agrees that it will be responsible for its own acts and results thereof and shall not be responsible for the acts of the other party and the results thereof. Each party, therefore, agrees that it will assume all risk and liability to itself, its agents or employees, for any injury to persons or property resulting in any manner from the conduct of its own operations, and the operations of its agents or employees; and for any loss, cost, damage, or expense resulting at any time from failure to exercise proper precautions, of or by itself, or its own agents or its own employees, while occupying or visiting the projects under and pursuant to this MOU. The Federal Government’s liability shall be governed by the provisions of the Federal Tort Claims Act (28 U.S.C. 2671-80).


Primary contacts for both administrative and technical issues will be the WVU Liasion to the National Soil Survey Center and the NRCS National Leader for Soil Business Systems.


A. Employees of NRCS shall participate in efforts under this MOU solely as representatives of the United States. To this end, employees of NRCS shall not participate as directors, officers, WVURC employees, or otherwise serve or hold themselves out as representatives of WVURC. Employees of NRCS shall not lobby Congress, or raise money through fund-raising efforts. Further, NRCS employees shall report to their immediate supervisor any negotiations with WVU, concerning future employment and shall refrain from participations in efforts regarding such parties until approved by the agency.

B. This MOU takes effect upon the signature of NRCS and WVU and shall remain in effect for 5 years from the date of execution unless amended or terminated as set forth herein. This MOU may be extended or amended upon written request of NRCS or WVU and the subsequent written concurrences of the other. Either NRCS orWVU may terminate this MOU with a 30-day written notice to the other.

C. This MOU is not intended to, and does not create, any right, benefit, or trust responsibility, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or equity, by a party against the United States, its agencies, its officers, or any person.

D. NRCS and WVURC and their respective officers will handle their own activities and utilize their own resources, including expenditures of their own funds in pursuing the purpose of this MOU. Each party will carry out its separate activities in a coordinated and mutually beneficial manner.

E. None of the information in this MOU shall obligate either NRCS or WVU to obligate or transfer any funds. Specific work projects or activities that involve the transfer of fund, services, or property among NRCS or WVU will require execution of separate agreements and be contingent upon the availability of funds. Such activities must be independently authorized by appropriate statutory authority. This MOU does not provide such authority. Negotiation, execution, and administration of each such agreement must comply with all applicable statues and regulations.