Deprecation of the United States (U.S.) Survey Foot, 55562-55565 [2019-22414]

Download as PDF 55562 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 201 / Thursday, October 17, 2019 / Notices Secretary for Antidumping and Countervailing Duties, at U.S. Department of Commerce, Room 18022, 1401 Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20230. Dated: October 9, 2019. James Maeder, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Operations. [FR Doc. 2019–22692 Filed 10–16–19; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–DS–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Institute of Standards and Technology Sheleen Dumas, Departmental Lead PRA Officer, Office of the Chief Information Officer, Commerce Department. Submission for OMB Review; Comment Request The Department of Commerce will submit to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for clearance the following proposal for collection of information under the provisions of the Paperwork Reduction Act (44 U.S.C. Chapter 35). Agency: National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Title: Baldrige Performance Excellent Program (BPEP) Team Leader Consensus and Team Leader Site Visit Information Collections. OMB Control Number: 0693–0079. Form Number(s): None. Type of Request: Extension and revision of a current information collection. Number of Respondents: Examiner Performance Assessment—40 per year; Team Leader Performance Assessment— 300 per year. Average Hours per Response: Examiner Performance Assessment—20 minutes; Team Leader Performance Assessment—5 minutes. Burden Hours: Examiner Performance Assessment—13.5 hours; Team Leader Performance Assessment—25 hours. Needs and Uses: The purpose of the information is to help staff collect data on the skills of the examiners, including alumni examiners, in order to best manage training and selection. Because the examiner selection is so competitive, examiners need to demonstrate competencies such as understanding the Baldrige Criteria, team skills, and writing skills. The program also needs to collect peer-based information to understand an examiner’s skill level in order to make decisions on whether the examiner should be elevated to ‘‘senior examiner’’ and therefore team leader. The blinded data will be shared with the team leader for improvement purposes, and for future assignments. VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:26 Oct 16, 2019 Jkt 250001 Affected Public: Individual or Households. Frequency: Annually. Respondent’s Obligation: Voluntary. This information collection request may be viewed at reginfo.gov. Follow the instructions to view Department of Commerce collections currently under review by OMB. Written comments and recommendations for the proposed information collection should be sent within 30 days of publication of this notice to OIRA_Submission@ omb.eop.gov or fax to (202) 395–5806. [FR Doc. 2019–22620 Filed 10–16–19; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–13–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Institute of Standards and Technology Deprecation of the United States (U.S.) Survey Foot The National Institute of Standards and Technology and the National Geodetic Survey (NGS), National Ocean Service (NOS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Department of Commerce (DOC). ACTION: Notice; request for comment. AGENCY: The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the National Geodetic Survey (NGS), National Ocean Service (NOS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), are taking collaborative action to provide national uniformity in the measurement of length. This notice announces a decision to deprecate the use of the ‘‘U.S. survey foot’’ on December 31, 2022. After that date, the ‘‘U.S. survey foot’’ will be superseded by the ‘‘foot’’ (formerly known as the ‘‘international foot’’), which is already in use throughout the U.S. This notice describes the plan, resources, training, and other activities of NIST and NOAA that will assist those affected by this transition, and invites comments and other information from land surveyors, engineers, Federal, State and local government officials, businesses, and any other member of the public engaged in or affected by surveying and mapping operations. DATES: Comments and other information must be received by December 2, 2019. SUMMARY: PO 00000 Frm 00023 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 NIST and NOAA are using the https://www.regulations.gov system for the submission and posting of public comments in this proceeding. All comments in response to this notice are therefore to be submitted electronically through https://www.regulations.gov, via the web form accessed by following the ‘‘Submit a Formal Comment’’ link near the top right of the Federal Register web page for this notice. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: U.S. survey foot deprecation resources: https://www.nist.gov/pml/ussurveyfoot. Information on standards development and maintenance: Elizabeth Gentry, 301–975–3690, Elizabeth.Gentry@nist.gov. Technical and historical information on usage of the foot: Michael Dennis, 240–533–9611, Michael.Dennis@ noaa.gov. ADDRESSES: SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background This action is designed to establish national uniformity in length measurements based on the foot. For more than sixty years, two nearly identical definitions of the foot have been in use in the U.S. for geodetic and land surveys. A Federal Register notice published on July 1, 1959 (24 FR 5348) by the National Bureau of Standards (renamed the National Institute of Standards and Technology in 1988) and the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey (reorganized as the National Geodetic Survey under the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in 1970) refined the definition of the yard in terms of the International System of Units (SI), commonly known as the metric system. The 1959 notice was issued after an international agreement among six nations resolved a longstanding difference in the relationship of the U.S. yard to the British yard. The notice reported that there was a slight difference (2 parts per million) between the 1959 definition (i.e., one yard = 0.914 4 meter, exactly) and an 1893 definition (i.e., 1 yard = 3600/3937 meter, or approximately 0.914 401 83 meter). The 1959 Federal Register notice then adopted a revised value for the foot for use throughout the U.S., and identified it as the ‘‘international foot’’ to show that it corresponded with the foot in use by the United Kingdom and other countries. The notice defined this international foot as 0.304 8 meter (e.g., equal to 0.999 999 8 of the value for the foot officially adopted in 1893). Additionally, to avoid disrupting the surveying practices at the time, the E:\FR\FM\17OCN1.SGM 17OCN1 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 201 / Thursday, October 17, 2019 / Notices notice established an interim approach that permitted the limited use of the historic 1893 value of the foot exclusively in the field of geodetic surveys. It was identified as the ‘‘U.S. survey foot’’ with the defined value of 0.304 800 61 meter (approximately). The 1959 notice specifically stated that the ‘‘U.S. survey foot’’ should be used ‘‘until such a time as it becomes desirable and expedient to readjust the basic geodetic survey networks in the United States, after which the ratio of a yard, equal to 0.914 4 meter, shall apply.’’ As announced in a Federal Register notice published on March 24, 1977 (42 FR 15943), NOAA officially adopted the meter as the unit for length in the National Spatial Reference System (NSRS). However, U.S. surveying and mapping practitioners continued to use the ‘‘U.S. survey foot,’’ including when they employed the NGS-defined State Plane Coordinates System of 1927 and 1983 (SPCS 27 and SPCS 83, respectively). Because the ‘‘international foot’’ is the basis for all other length measurements and calibrations in the U.S., it is no longer necessary to continue to maintain two unit values for the foot. Consequences for Surveying, Mapping, and Engineering in the United States Although the use of the ‘‘U.S. survey foot’’ was intended to be an interim measure, its use continues to be prevalent in land surveying and mapping in much of the U.S. Of the 50 U.S. jurisdictions that have legislated SPCS 83 (48 States plus Puerto Rico and Guam), the ‘‘U.S. survey foot’’ has been specified for SPCS 83 in 40 States, either through statute (28 States) or Federal Register notices (12 States). Six States have adopted the ‘‘international foot’’ for SPCS 83, while two States (plus Puerto Rico and Guam) have not formally designated the type of foot to be used. It is important to note that State legislation and Federal Register notices regarding the ‘‘U.S. survey foot’’ are specifically associated with SPCS 83, and therefore are not applicable to the NSRS Modernization in 2022. It is also important to note that while the difference between the two definitions is 2 parts per million, this small discrepancy accumulates over large distances and can result in significant errors in surveying and civil engineering projects, regardless of the size of the project. For example, when a one-mile distance is surveyed, the difference is approximately 0.01 ft or 0.12 in. However, the impact becomes substantial when longer distance measurements or conversions are made, VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:26 Oct 16, 2019 Jkt 250001 such as those involving rectangular plane coordinates of SPCS 83. In these cases, the difference between the two definitions can also result in large direction and position location errors, in many cases reaching tens of feet for SPCS 83 coordinates. Because of this situation, there has been a long history of misunderstandings and confusion over which definition of the foot was used to carry out a specific land survey or civil engineering project. There have been many instances where software or electronic surveying devices default to one or the other foot definitions, but users incorrectly assume the actual unit of measure in use. This ongoing ambiguity has resulted in professional liability by the inadvertent violation of State law, the introduction of systematic errors in surveying and engineering projects, misreported position and location, land sale and project delays, boundary disputes, additional costs associated with correcting unit mistakes, and other unintended consequences. Because State jurisdictions with different legal definitions of the foot share borders, mapping projects in these geographic zones may experience elevated error risks as a surveyor transitions between a State that uses the ‘‘U.S. survey foot’’ and a State that uses the ‘‘international foot.’’ This risk is exacerbated when professional surveyors and engineers are licensed to practice in multiple States that use different versions of the foot, and for large projects when the team participants come from different States and even different countries. In addition to the cost due to errors, there is the cost of inefficiency, since it is necessary to keep track of the foot version, which increases with the size, duration, and complexity of projects. Opportunity To Eliminate Confusion Since the publication of the 1959 Federal Register notice, experience has overwhelmingly revealed that national uniformity cannot be ensured in this critical industry field when users are routinely confronted with two definitions of the foot. The best opportunity for eliminating the redundancy in values for the foot will occur with the NOAA program to modernize the NSRS in 2022. The only practical solution is to deprecate the ‘‘U.S. survey foot’’ and to require that its use in surveying, mapping, and engineering be discontinued. Allowing the continued use of two definitions of the foot undercuts the value and benefit of national uniformity, and allows for additional opportunities for confusion PO 00000 Frm 00024 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 55563 and unnecessary costs to the users, the States, and professionals in the surveying, mapping, and engineering fields. No compelling justification to maintain two definitions for the foot exists. Notice From the Director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology Regarding the Deprecation of the ‘‘U.S. Survey Foot’’ on December 31, 2022 Under Article 1, Section 8 of the United States Constitution, Congress retains the power to ‘‘fix the Standard of Weights and Measures.’’ Throughout that section, the words ‘‘uniform throughout the United States’’ are used in conjunction with many of the other duties and responsibilities that are listed. The ‘‘fixing’’ or defining the standards of weights and measures is intrinsic to ensure uniform measurement across the U.S., as well as with the rest of the world. In 1866, Congress acted to make the metric system of measurement (now known as the International System of Units (SI)) legal for use in the United States (15 U.S.C. 204). On May 20, 1875 the U.S. signed the Meter Convention (known as the ‘‘International Treaty of the Meter’’), which established the International Bureau of Weights and Measures, an intergovernmental organization under the General Conference on Weights and Measures that oversees the International Committee for Weights and Measures, which is the organization that maintains the SI to meet the measurement needs of the world. On April 5, 1893, the ‘‘Mendenhall Order,’’ issued by the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey with the approval of the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, determined that the U.S. Customary units of the yard and pound would be defined in terms of the SI units of the meter and kilogram. The practice of defining the U.S. Customary units of measurement in terms of the SI continues today. In 1988, Congress declared that the metric system was the preferred system of measurement for trade and commerce in the United States (15 U.S.C. 205b). The Director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology is authorized by statute ‘‘to develop, maintain, and retain custody of the national standards of measurement, and provide the means and methods for making measurements consistent with those standards’’ (15 U.S.C. 272(b)(2)), ‘‘to assure the compatibility of United States national measurement standards with those of other nations’’ (15 U.S.C. 272(b)(9)), and to ‘‘cooperate with the States in securing uniformity in weights and measures laws’’ (15 U.S.C. 272(c)(4)). Under this E:\FR\FM\17OCN1.SGM 17OCN1 55564 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 201 / Thursday, October 17, 2019 / Notices authority, the SI is interpreted or modified by the Director of NIST for use in the United States. The SI is used exclusively to define, establish, and maintain the U.S. national standards of measurement and in securing uniformity of their use in the laws of the States. ‘‘Deprecation’’ is a term widely used in the field of legal metrology and other measurement science fields of study. It describes a decision to discontinue the use of a specific measurement unit or method of sale. A unit of measurement (e.g., the foot or gallon) though legal, may be prohibited from being used in a specific commercial application if, for example, it has been identified as being redundant or a source of confusion, or if it could frustrate the ability of users to make quantity and value comparisons. For example, gasoline and other engine fuels are permitted to be sold from a retail service station by the gallon but may not be sold by the fluid pint or fluid ounce. As the situation with multiple definitions for the foot illustrates, measurement unit uniformity is only possible when a single measurement unit definition is used for a specific application (e.g., land surveying). The deprecation process begins with a notice to users that a unit of measure is to be deprecated and that use of the unit is to be avoided after a specific date. The notice also prescribes the new unit of measurement that will be accepted for use. The notice period allows users time to make the necessary changes to their measuring practices, processes, procedures, and devices. The notice period also provides an opportunity for education and training for all of those involved in the changeover and the identification of unforeseen issues so that appropriate preventive actions, exceptions, or additional requirements can be developed and implemented. After the notice period ends, the deprecated measurement unit is deemed obsolete, its use is to be avoided, and it is retained for historical purposes and legacy applications only. Deprecation of the Survey Foot, Survey Mile, and Other Measures Derived From the Survey Foot On December 31, 2022, the 1893 ‘‘U.S. survey foot,’’ as defined in a 1959 Federal Register notice (24 FR 5348, June 30, 1959), will be deprecated as a U.S. national standard of measurement and its use is to be avoided. The 1893 definition of the ‘‘U.S. survey foot’’ will be retained for historic reference but will be deemed obsolete. This notice also applies to the ‘‘U.S. survey mile’’ (equal to approximately 1609.347 meters), which is based on the ‘‘U.S. survey foot,’’ the use of which should also be avoided after December 31, 2022 and which will be retained for historical purposes but will be deemed obsolete. After December 31, 2022, any data derived from or published as a result of surveying, mapping, or any other activity within the U.S. that is expressed in terms of feet shall only be based on the ‘‘foot’’ equal to 0.304 8 meter (exactly), formerly known as the ‘‘international foot’’ in the 1959 Federal Register notice. Likewise, other measures previously based only on the ‘‘U.S. survey foot’’ will be defined using the foot equal to 0.304 8 meter (exactly) after December 31, 2022. These measures are the ‘‘chain,’’ ‘‘link,’’ ‘‘rod’’ (also ‘‘pole’’ or ‘‘perch’’), ‘‘furlong,’’ and ‘‘fathom’’ for length, and the ‘‘acre’’ for area. Decimal SI equivalents for these measures are given in Table 1 for both the ‘‘U.S. survey foot’’ (approximate) and the ‘‘foot’’ (exact). For these measures, the difference between the two types of feet is usually of no practical consequence. For example, the greatest precision typically used for the chain in modern land surveying practice is three decimal places (or 0.1 link), and at that level of significance both versions of the foot give the same value. Similarly, the difference in area for 1 acre is only 0.000 004 acre (0.17 ft2) for the two foot versions. TABLE 1—APPROXIMATE DECIMAL SI EQUIVALENTS FOR MEASURES COMMONLY GIVEN IN ‘‘U.S. SURVEY FEET’’ AND EXACT EQUIVALENTS FOR THE ‘‘FOOT’’ THAT WILL BE ADOPTED AFTER DECEMBER 31, 2022 IN NIST SP 811, THE NIST GUIDE FOR THE USE OF THE INTERNATIONAL SYSTEM OF UNITS Unit of measure based on feet Type of quantity ‘‘U.S. survey foot’’ (approximate) foot (ft) ................................................ mile (mi) .............................................. chain (ch) ............................................ link (li) ................................................. rod (rd), pole, perch ............................ furlong (fur) ......................................... fathom ................................................. acre (ac) .............................................. length ................................................. length ................................................. length ................................................. length ................................................. length ................................................. length ................................................. length ................................................. area .................................................... 0.304 800 6 . . . m ........................... 1609.347 . . . m ............................... 20.116 84 . . . m .............................. 0.201 168 4 . . . m ........................... 5.029 21 . . . m ................................ 201.168 4 . . . m .............................. 1.828 804 . . . m .............................. 4046.872 609 9 . . . m2 ................... In keeping with the terms of this notice, the ‘‘U.S. survey foot’’ will no longer be supported by NOAA in the modernized NSRS after 2022, including the State Plane Coordinate System of 2022 (SPCS2022), elevations, and all other components of the system. However, the ‘‘U.S. survey foot’’ will be permanently maintained in NOAA products and services for legacy applications, for example the computation of SPCS coordinates in States where it was specified for SPCS 83, and for all zones of SPCS 27. VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:26 Oct 16, 2019 Jkt 250001 Comments and Future Action The Director of NIST and the Director of the National Geodetic Survey (NGS) solicit comments and suggestions from land surveyors, engineers, Federal, State and local officials, equipment manufacturers, and the public at large who are engaged in or affected by surveying and mapping operations for ways that the two agencies can help facilitate an orderly transition to a single definition for the foot. Throughout the notice period, NGS and the NIST Office of Weights and Measures will work together to provide opportunities for PO 00000 Frm 00025 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 ‘‘foot’’ (exact) 0.304 8 m 1609.344 m 20.116 8 m 0.201 168 m 5.029 2 m 201.168 m 1.828 8 m 4046.856 422 4 m2 education and training for all of those involved in the changeover. After the public comments are evaluated, any unforeseen issues identified, and appropriate solutions developed, a second Federal Register notice addressing those issues will be published and publicly announced in other media as appropriate before June 30, 2020. This action is being taken in conjunction with the NGS program to improve the National Spatial Reference System (NSRS), as described at https:// geodesy.noaa.gov/datums/newdatums/ E:\FR\FM\17OCN1.SGM 17OCN1 Federal Register / Vol. 84, No. 201 / Thursday, October 17, 2019 / Notices index.shtml. In 2022, NGS will replace the North American Datum of 1983 (NAD 83) and the North American Vertical Datum of 1988 (NAVD 88) with new geometric reference frames and a geopotential datum. The new reference frames and datum will rely primarily on Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS), such as the Global Positioning System (GPS), as well as on a gravimetric geoid model resulting from the NGS Gravity for the Redefinition of the American Vertical Datum (GRAV–D) Project. These new reference frames and datum will be easier to access and maintain than NAD 83 and NAVD 88, which rely on physical survey marks that deteriorate over time. On April 18, 2018, NGS issued a draft Federal Register notice (83 FR 17149) for public comment on draft policy and procedures for the State Plane Coordinate System of 2022 (SPCS2022), which will be referenced to the 2022 reference frames. In those draft documents, it was specified that SPCS2022 parameters will be exclusively defined using metric (SI) values. However, in addition to metric values, the documents stated that output coordinates could also optionally be provided in either ‘‘international’’ or ‘‘U.S. survey feet,’’ and that by default the type of foot would be the same as currently used for SPCS 83. The official version of SPCS2022 Policy, effective April 23, 2019 (https:// geodesy.noaa.gov/INFO/Policy/files/ SPCS2022_Policy_NGS_2019-121401.pdf), states that NGS has not yet determined whether or what type of foot will be supported for output coordinates (Section II.E.1). The policy will be updated after NIST and NOAA co-issue a Federal Register notice by June 30, 2020, announcing adoption of the ‘‘foot’’ equal to 0.304 8 meter (exactly) as the official definition for all applications in the U.S. after December 31, 2022. Kevin A. Kimball, Chief of Staff. [FR Doc. 2019–22414 Filed 10–16–19; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–13–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Notice Requesting Nominations for the Advisory Committee on Commercial Remote Sensing (ACCRES) Request for membership nominations. ACTION: The Department of Commerce is seeking highly qualified individuals SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 17:26 Oct 16, 2019 Jkt 250001 who are knowledgeable about the commercial space-based remote sensing industry and uses of space-based remote sensing data to serve on the Advisory Committee on Commercial Remote Sensing (ACCRES). The Committee is comprised of leaders in the commercial space-based remote sensing industry, space-based remote sensing data users, government, and academia. The SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section of this notice provides committee and membership criteria. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: ACCRES was established by the Secretary of Commerce on May 21, 2002, to advise the Secretary, through the Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere, on matters relating to the U.S. commercial remote sensing industry and NOAA’s activities to carry out responsibilities of the Department of Commerce as set forth in the National and Commercial Space Programs Act of 2010 (the Act), Title 51 U.S.C. 60101 et seq (formerly the Land Remote Sensing Policy Act of 1992, 15 U.S.C. Secs. 5621–5625). Committee members serve in a representative capacity for a term of two years and may serve additional terms, if reappointed. No more than 20 individuals at a time may serve on the Committee. ACCRES will have a fairly balanced membership consisting of approximately 9 to 20 members. Nominations are encouraged from all interested U.S. persons and organizations representing interests affected by the regulation of remote sensing. Nominees must represent stakeholders in remote sensing, space commerce, space policy, or a related field and be able to attend committee meetings that are held usually two times per year. Membership is voluntary, and service is without pay. Each nomination that is submitted should include the proposed committee member’s name and organizational affiliation, a brief description of the nominee’s qualifications and interest in serving on the Committee, a curriculum vitae or resume of the nominee, and no more than three supporting letters describing the nominee’s qualifications and interest in serving on the Committee. Self-nominations are acceptable. The following contact information should accompany each submission: The nominee’s name, address, phone number, and email address. Nominations should be sent to Tahara Dawkins, Director, Commercial Remote Sensing Regulatory Affairs Office, 1335 East West Highway, G–101, Silver Spring, Maryland 20910 or email tahara.dawkins@noaa.gov. Nominations PO 00000 Frm 00026 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 55565 must be postmarked or emailed no later than 30 days from the publication date of this notice. The full text of the Committee Charter and its current membership can be viewed at the Agency’s web page at: http:// www.nesdis.noaa.gov/CRSRA/ accresHome.html. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Tashaun Pierre, Commercial Remote Sensing Regulatory Affairs Office, NOAA Satellite and Information Services, 1335 East West Highway, Room G101, Silver Spring, Maryland 20910; telephone (301) 713–7077, email Tashaun.pierre@noaa.gov. Stephen M. Volz, Assistant Administrator for Satellite and Information Services. [FR Doc. 2019–22660 Filed 10–16–19; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3510–HR–P DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE Office of the Secretary Defense Health Board; Notice of Federal Advisory Committee Meeting Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, Department of Defense (DoD). ACTION: Notice of Federal Advisory Committee meeting. AGENCY: The DoD is publishing this notice to announce that the following Federal Advisory Committee meeting of the Defense Health Board will take place. SUMMARY: Open to the public Monday, November 4, 2019 from 7:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. ADDRESSES: The address of the open meeting is Madigan Army Medical Center, 9040 Jackson Ave., Cahill Conference Room 2–68–4, Tacoma, WA 98431. Registration is required. (Premeeting screening for base access and registration required. See guidance in SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION, ‘‘meeting Accessibility.’’) DATES: FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Captain Gregory Gorman, Medical Corps, U.S. Navy, (703) 275–6060 (Voice), (703) 275–6064 (Facsimile), gregory.h.gorman.mil@mail.mil (Email). Mailing address is 7700 Arlington Boulevard, Suite 5101, Falls Church, Virginia 22042. Website: http:// www.health.mil/dhb. The most up-todate changes to the meeting agenda can be found on the website. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: This meeting is being held under the provisions of the Federal Advisory E:\FR\FM\17OCN1.SGM 17OCN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 84, Number 201 (Thursday, October 17, 2019)]
[Notices]
[Pages 55562-55565]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2019-22414]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Institute of Standards and Technology


Deprecation of the United States (U.S.) Survey Foot

AGENCY: The National Institute of Standards and Technology and the 
National Geodetic Survey (NGS), National Ocean Service (NOS), National 
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Department of Commerce 
(DOC).

ACTION: Notice; request for comment.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and 
the National Geodetic Survey (NGS), National Ocean Service (NOS), 
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), are taking 
collaborative action to provide national uniformity in the measurement 
of length. This notice announces a decision to deprecate the use of the 
``U.S. survey foot'' on December 31, 2022. After that date, the ``U.S. 
survey foot'' will be superseded by the ``foot'' (formerly known as the 
``international foot''), which is already in use throughout the U.S. 
This notice describes the plan, resources, training, and other 
activities of NIST and NOAA that will assist those affected by this 
transition, and invites comments and other information from land 
surveyors, engineers, Federal, State and local government officials, 
businesses, and any other member of the public engaged in or affected 
by surveying and mapping operations.

DATES: Comments and other information must be received by December 2, 
2019.

ADDRESSES: NIST and NOAA are using the https://www.regulations.gov 
system for the submission and posting of public comments in this 
proceeding. All comments in response to this notice are therefore to be 
submitted electronically through https://www.regulations.gov, via the 
web form accessed by following the ``Submit a Formal Comment'' link 
near the top right of the Federal Register web page for this notice.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: 
    U.S. survey foot deprecation resources: https://www.nist.gov/pml/us-surveyfoot.
    Information on standards development and maintenance: Elizabeth 
Gentry, 301-975-3690, [email protected].
    Technical and historical information on usage of the foot: Michael 
Dennis, 240-533-9611, [email protected].

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Background

    This action is designed to establish national uniformity in length 
measurements based on the foot. For more than sixty years, two nearly 
identical definitions of the foot have been in use in the U.S. for 
geodetic and land surveys. A Federal Register notice published on July 
1, 1959 (24 FR 5348) by the National Bureau of Standards (renamed the 
National Institute of Standards and Technology in 1988) and the U.S. 
Coast and Geodetic Survey (reorganized as the National Geodetic Survey 
under the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in 1970) 
refined the definition of the yard in terms of the International System 
of Units (SI), commonly known as the metric system. The 1959 notice was 
issued after an international agreement among six nations resolved a 
long-standing difference in the relationship of the U.S. yard to the 
British yard. The notice reported that there was a slight difference (2 
parts per million) between the 1959 definition (i.e., one yard = 0.914 
4 meter, exactly) and an 1893 definition (i.e., 1 yard = 3600/3937 
meter, or approximately 0.914 401 83 meter).
    The 1959 Federal Register notice then adopted a revised value for 
the foot for use throughout the U.S., and identified it as the 
``international foot'' to show that it corresponded with the foot in 
use by the United Kingdom and other countries. The notice defined this 
international foot as 0.304 8 meter (e.g., equal to 0.999 999 8 of the 
value for the foot officially adopted in 1893). Additionally, to avoid 
disrupting the surveying practices at the time, the

[[Page 55563]]

notice established an interim approach that permitted the limited use 
of the historic 1893 value of the foot exclusively in the field of 
geodetic surveys. It was identified as the ``U.S. survey foot'' with 
the defined value of 0.304 800 61 meter (approximately). The 1959 
notice specifically stated that the ``U.S. survey foot'' should be used 
``until such a time as it becomes desirable and expedient to readjust 
the basic geodetic survey networks in the United States, after which 
the ratio of a yard, equal to 0.914 4 meter, shall apply.''
    As announced in a Federal Register notice published on March 24, 
1977 (42 FR 15943), NOAA officially adopted the meter as the unit for 
length in the National Spatial Reference System (NSRS). However, U.S. 
surveying and mapping practitioners continued to use the ``U.S. survey 
foot,'' including when they employed the NGS-defined State Plane 
Coordinates System of 1927 and 1983 (SPCS 27 and SPCS 83, 
respectively). Because the ``international foot'' is the basis for all 
other length measurements and calibrations in the U.S., it is no longer 
necessary to continue to maintain two unit values for the foot.

Consequences for Surveying, Mapping, and Engineering in the United 
States

    Although the use of the ``U.S. survey foot'' was intended to be an 
interim measure, its use continues to be prevalent in land surveying 
and mapping in much of the U.S. Of the 50 U.S. jurisdictions that have 
legislated SPCS 83 (48 States plus Puerto Rico and Guam), the ``U.S. 
survey foot'' has been specified for SPCS 83 in 40 States, either 
through statute (28 States) or Federal Register notices (12 States). 
Six States have adopted the ``international foot'' for SPCS 83, while 
two States (plus Puerto Rico and Guam) have not formally designated the 
type of foot to be used. It is important to note that State legislation 
and Federal Register notices regarding the ``U.S. survey foot'' are 
specifically associated with SPCS 83, and therefore are not applicable 
to the NSRS Modernization in 2022.
    It is also important to note that while the difference between the 
two definitions is 2 parts per million, this small discrepancy 
accumulates over large distances and can result in significant errors 
in surveying and civil engineering projects, regardless of the size of 
the project. For example, when a one-mile distance is surveyed, the 
difference is approximately 0.01 ft or 0.12 in. However, the impact 
becomes substantial when longer distance measurements or conversions 
are made, such as those involving rectangular plane coordinates of SPCS 
83. In these cases, the difference between the two definitions can also 
result in large direction and position location errors, in many cases 
reaching tens of feet for SPCS 83 coordinates.
    Because of this situation, there has been a long history of 
misunderstandings and confusion over which definition of the foot was 
used to carry out a specific land survey or civil engineering project. 
There have been many instances where software or electronic surveying 
devices default to one or the other foot definitions, but users 
incorrectly assume the actual unit of measure in use. This ongoing 
ambiguity has resulted in professional liability by the inadvertent 
violation of State law, the introduction of systematic errors in 
surveying and engineering projects, misreported position and location, 
land sale and project delays, boundary disputes, additional costs 
associated with correcting unit mistakes, and other unintended 
consequences. Because State jurisdictions with different legal 
definitions of the foot share borders, mapping projects in these 
geographic zones may experience elevated error risks as a surveyor 
transitions between a State that uses the ``U.S. survey foot'' and a 
State that uses the ``international foot.'' This risk is exacerbated 
when professional surveyors and engineers are licensed to practice in 
multiple States that use different versions of the foot, and for large 
projects when the team participants come from different States and even 
different countries. In addition to the cost due to errors, there is 
the cost of inefficiency, since it is necessary to keep track of the 
foot version, which increases with the size, duration, and complexity 
of projects.

Opportunity To Eliminate Confusion

    Since the publication of the 1959 Federal Register notice, 
experience has overwhelmingly revealed that national uniformity cannot 
be ensured in this critical industry field when users are routinely 
confronted with two definitions of the foot. The best opportunity for 
eliminating the redundancy in values for the foot will occur with the 
NOAA program to modernize the NSRS in 2022.
    The only practical solution is to deprecate the ``U.S. survey 
foot'' and to require that its use in surveying, mapping, and 
engineering be discontinued. Allowing the continued use of two 
definitions of the foot undercuts the value and benefit of national 
uniformity, and allows for additional opportunities for confusion and 
unnecessary costs to the users, the States, and professionals in the 
surveying, mapping, and engineering fields. No compelling justification 
to maintain two definitions for the foot exists.

Notice From the Director of the National Institute of Standards and 
Technology Regarding the Deprecation of the ``U.S. Survey Foot'' on 
December 31, 2022

    Under Article 1, Section 8 of the United States Constitution, 
Congress retains the power to ``fix the Standard of Weights and 
Measures.'' Throughout that section, the words ``uniform throughout the 
United States'' are used in conjunction with many of the other duties 
and responsibilities that are listed. The ``fixing'' or defining the 
standards of weights and measures is intrinsic to ensure uniform 
measurement across the U.S., as well as with the rest of the world. In 
1866, Congress acted to make the metric system of measurement (now 
known as the International System of Units (SI)) legal for use in the 
United States (15 U.S.C. 204). On May 20, 1875 the U.S. signed the 
Meter Convention (known as the ``International Treaty of the Meter''), 
which established the International Bureau of Weights and Measures, an 
intergovernmental organization under the General Conference on Weights 
and Measures that oversees the International Committee for Weights and 
Measures, which is the organization that maintains the SI to meet the 
measurement needs of the world. On April 5, 1893, the ``Mendenhall 
Order,'' issued by the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey with the approval 
of the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury, determined that the U.S. 
Customary units of the yard and pound would be defined in terms of the 
SI units of the meter and kilogram. The practice of defining the U.S. 
Customary units of measurement in terms of the SI continues today.
    In 1988, Congress declared that the metric system was the preferred 
system of measurement for trade and commerce in the United States (15 
U.S.C. 205b). The Director of the National Institute of Standards and 
Technology is authorized by statute ``to develop, maintain, and retain 
custody of the national standards of measurement, and provide the means 
and methods for making measurements consistent with those standards'' 
(15 U.S.C. 272(b)(2)), ``to assure the compatibility of United States 
national measurement standards with those of other nations'' (15 U.S.C. 
272(b)(9)), and to ``cooperate with the States in securing uniformity 
in weights and measures laws'' (15 U.S.C. 272(c)(4)). Under this

[[Page 55564]]

authority, the SI is interpreted or modified by the Director of NIST 
for use in the United States. The SI is used exclusively to define, 
establish, and maintain the U.S. national standards of measurement and 
in securing uniformity of their use in the laws of the States.
    ``Deprecation'' is a term widely used in the field of legal 
metrology and other measurement science fields of study. It describes a 
decision to discontinue the use of a specific measurement unit or 
method of sale. A unit of measurement (e.g., the foot or gallon) though 
legal, may be prohibited from being used in a specific commercial 
application if, for example, it has been identified as being redundant 
or a source of confusion, or if it could frustrate the ability of users 
to make quantity and value comparisons. For example, gasoline and other 
engine fuels are permitted to be sold from a retail service station by 
the gallon but may not be sold by the fluid pint or fluid ounce. As the 
situation with multiple definitions for the foot illustrates, 
measurement unit uniformity is only possible when a single measurement 
unit definition is used for a specific application (e.g., land 
surveying).
    The deprecation process begins with a notice to users that a unit 
of measure is to be deprecated and that use of the unit is to be 
avoided after a specific date. The notice also prescribes the new unit 
of measurement that will be accepted for use. The notice period allows 
users time to make the necessary changes to their measuring practices, 
processes, procedures, and devices. The notice period also provides an 
opportunity for education and training for all of those involved in the 
changeover and the identification of unforeseen issues so that 
appropriate preventive actions, exceptions, or additional requirements 
can be developed and implemented. After the notice period ends, the 
deprecated measurement unit is deemed obsolete, its use is to be 
avoided, and it is retained for historical purposes and legacy 
applications only.

Deprecation of the Survey Foot, Survey Mile, and Other Measures Derived 
From the Survey Foot

    On December 31, 2022, the 1893 ``U.S. survey foot,'' as defined in 
a 1959 Federal Register notice (24 FR 5348, June 30, 1959), will be 
deprecated as a U.S. national standard of measurement and its use is to 
be avoided. The 1893 definition of the ``U.S. survey foot'' will be 
retained for historic reference but will be deemed obsolete. This 
notice also applies to the ``U.S. survey mile'' (equal to approximately 
1609.347 meters), which is based on the ``U.S. survey foot,'' the use 
of which should also be avoided after December 31, 2022 and which will 
be retained for historical purposes but will be deemed obsolete. After 
December 31, 2022, any data derived from or published as a result of 
surveying, mapping, or any other activity within the U.S. that is 
expressed in terms of feet shall only be based on the ``foot'' equal to 
0.304 8 meter (exactly), formerly known as the ``international foot'' 
in the 1959 Federal Register notice.
    Likewise, other measures previously based only on the ``U.S. survey 
foot'' will be defined using the foot equal to 0.304 8 meter (exactly) 
after December 31, 2022. These measures are the ``chain,'' ``link,'' 
``rod'' (also ``pole'' or ``perch''), ``furlong,'' and ``fathom'' for 
length, and the ``acre'' for area. Decimal SI equivalents for these 
measures are given in Table 1 for both the ``U.S. survey foot'' 
(approximate) and the ``foot'' (exact). For these measures, the 
difference between the two types of feet is usually of no practical 
consequence. For example, the greatest precision typically used for the 
chain in modern land surveying practice is three decimal places (or 0.1 
link), and at that level of significance both versions of the foot give 
the same value. Similarly, the difference in area for 1 acre is only 
0.000 004 acre (0.17 ft\2\) for the two foot versions.

    Table 1--Approximate Decimal SI Equivalents for Measures Commonly Given in ``U.S. Survey Feet'' and Exact
Equivalents for the ``Foot'' That Will Be Adopted After December 31, 2022 in NIST SP 811, The NIST Guide for the
                                    use of the International System of Units
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                            ``U.S. survey
  Unit of measure based on feet      Type of quantity           foot''                 ``foot'' (exact)
                                                            (approximate)
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
foot (ft)........................  length..............  0.304 800 6 . . . m  0.304 8 m
mile (mi)........................  length..............  1609.347 . . . m...  1609.344 m
chain (ch).......................  length..............  20.116 84 . . . m..  20.116 8 m
link (li)........................  length..............  0.201 168 4 . . . m  0.201 168 m
rod (rd), pole, perch............  length..............  5.029 21 . . . m...  5.029 2 m
furlong (fur)....................  length..............  201.168 4 . . . m..  201.168 m
fathom...........................  length..............  1.828 804 . . . m..  1.828 8 m
acre (ac)........................  area................  4046.872 609 9 . .   4046.856 422 4 m\2\
                                                          . m\2\.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    In keeping with the terms of this notice, the ``U.S. survey foot'' 
will no longer be supported by NOAA in the modernized NSRS after 2022, 
including the State Plane Coordinate System of 2022 (SPCS2022), 
elevations, and all other components of the system. However, the ``U.S. 
survey foot'' will be permanently maintained in NOAA products and 
services for legacy applications, for example the computation of SPCS 
coordinates in States where it was specified for SPCS 83, and for all 
zones of SPCS 27.

Comments and Future Action

    The Director of NIST and the Director of the National Geodetic 
Survey (NGS) solicit comments and suggestions from land surveyors, 
engineers, Federal, State and local officials, equipment manufacturers, 
and the public at large who are engaged in or affected by surveying and 
mapping operations for ways that the two agencies can help facilitate 
an orderly transition to a single definition for the foot. Throughout 
the notice period, NGS and the NIST Office of Weights and Measures will 
work together to provide opportunities for education and training for 
all of those involved in the changeover. After the public comments are 
evaluated, any unforeseen issues identified, and appropriate solutions 
developed, a second Federal Register notice addressing those issues 
will be published and publicly announced in other media as appropriate 
before June 30, 2020.
    This action is being taken in conjunction with the NGS program to 
improve the National Spatial Reference System (NSRS), as described at 
https://geodesy.noaa.gov/datums/newdatums/

[[Page 55565]]

index.shtml. In 2022, NGS will replace the North American Datum of 1983 
(NAD 83) and the North American Vertical Datum of 1988 (NAVD 88) with 
new geometric reference frames and a geopotential datum. The new 
reference frames and datum will rely primarily on Global Navigation 
Satellite Systems (GNSS), such as the Global Positioning System (GPS), 
as well as on a gravimetric geoid model resulting from the NGS Gravity 
for the Redefinition of the American Vertical Datum (GRAV-D) Project. 
These new reference frames and datum will be easier to access and 
maintain than NAD 83 and NAVD 88, which rely on physical survey marks 
that deteriorate over time.
    On April 18, 2018, NGS issued a draft Federal Register notice (83 
FR 17149) for public comment on draft policy and procedures for the 
State Plane Coordinate System of 2022 (SPCS2022), which will be 
referenced to the 2022 reference frames. In those draft documents, it 
was specified that SPCS2022 parameters will be exclusively defined 
using metric (SI) values. However, in addition to metric values, the 
documents stated that output coordinates could also optionally be 
provided in either ``international'' or ``U.S. survey feet,'' and that 
by default the type of foot would be the same as currently used for 
SPCS 83. The official version of SPCS2022 Policy, effective April 23, 
2019 (https://geodesy.noaa.gov/INFO/Policy/files/SPCS2022_Policy_NGS_2019-1214-01.pdf), states that NGS has not yet 
determined whether or what type of foot will be supported for output 
coordinates (Section II.E.1). The policy will be updated after NIST and 
NOAA co-issue a Federal Register notice by June 30, 2020, announcing 
adoption of the ``foot'' equal to 0.304 8 meter (exactly) as the 
official definition for all applications in the U.S. after December 31, 
2022.

Kevin A. Kimball,
Chief of Staff.
[FR Doc. 2019-22414 Filed 10-16-19; 8:45 am]
 BILLING CODE 3510-13-P