U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Dot gov

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.


Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock () or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.


  1. Home
  2. Opog
  3. Directives

Was this page helpful?



DAO 216-6

Effective Date: 



.01 This Order prescribes policies and sets forth responsibilities and procedures to be followed in the Department of Commerce (the Department) for implementing the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) (42 United States Code 4321 et seq.) and the Council on Environmental Quality Regulations for Implementing the Procedural Provisions of NEPA (CEQ Regulations) as codified at Parts 1500-1508 of Title 40 of the Code of Federal Regulations.

This revision updates the March 1983 Order, has been discussed with affected components of the Department and has been approved by CEQ. Department officials will use this Order in conjunction with and supplementary to the CEQ Regulations.


.01 Policies and programs of the Department of Commerce Operating Units listed in Appendix A shall be planned, developed, and implemented so as to achieve the goals and to follow the procedures established by NEPA.

02. This Order hereby authorizes the development of a companion manual entitled Policy and Procedures for Compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act and Related Authorities, which will be included in the Department Administrative Orders (DAO) 200-0, Department of Commerce Handbooks and Manuals. The companion manual will provide guidance on the responsibilities of Department management and staff pertinent to NEPA, CEQ Regulations for Implementing NEPA, and other related authorities. Operating Units with NEPA policies approved by CEQ may use but are not bound by the companion manual in whole or in part.


.01 Each Operating Unit is responsible for compliance with NEPA, CEQ Regulations, and this Order. Compliance will include preparation and implementation of specific procedures and processes relating to the programs and activities of the individual Operating Unit, as necessary.

.02 Operating Units, listed in Appendix A, have Operating Unit-specific NEPA policies and procedures. The Department's Chief NEPA Officer may add to this list any other Operating Unit that develops fulsome NEPA policies and procedures, in accordance with 40 CFR Sec. 1507.3, Agency Procedures, approved by CEQ, and may delegate full responsibility for NEPA compliance related to a Bureau's particular program to the Bureau (with conditions if appropriate) if the Department's Chief NEPA Officer determines that the Bureau has knowledge and experience appropriate to managing that program. An Operating Unit with NEPA policies may modify or amend its policies and procedures including categorical exclusions independent of the Department's Chief NEPA Officer, and will notify the Department's Chief NEPA Officer of any such changes once made.

.03 Operating Units with NEPA policies have direct relationships with other agencies that seek review of NEPA documents, cooperating agency status, or other coordination. Those units will make their own arrangements for such matters. For all other units of the Department, the Department's Chief NEPA Officer will coordinate review of NEPA documents to include Environmental Assessments (EAs) or Environmental Impact Statements (EISs) from another agency, cooperating agency status, and inquiries or status reports on EISs or other NEPA policies and processes.

.04 The Assistant General Counsel for Administration and Transactions is the Department's Chief NEPA Officer and is responsible for overseeing the Department's implementation of NEPA. The Department's Chief NEPA Officer will also provide NEPA-related legal advice to those operating units without Operating Unit-specific NEPA policies and procedures.

.05 The Department's Chief NEPA Officer will facilitate compliance with NEPA, assure effective communication, and make available information to those in the Office of the Secretary and the designated Operating Unit NEPA Coordinators and provide a resource for decision makers who do not regularly have actions that affect the human environment.

.06 The Department's Chief NEPA Officer will coordinate with other agencies, CEQ, the public, and Tribes, including Alaska Native villages, Native Hawaiian villages and Native Hawaiian governments on behalf of the Department and particularly those units that do not have unit-specific NEPA policies and procedures. Units with NEPA policies will undertake such coordination independently, and will, as necessary and appropriate, communicate or coordinate such efforts with the Department's Chief NEPA Officer.

.07 The Department's Chief NEPA Officer will assure that the Department files appropriate reports on NEPA, including CEQ's annual NEPA litigation survey.


.01 42 U.S.C. 4321-4361, National Environmental Policy Act.

.02 40 CFR Parts 1500-1508, Regulations for Implementing the Procedural Provisions of NEPA.

.03 Executive Order 12114, Environmental Effects Abroad of Major Federal Actions.

.04 DAO 216-12, Environmental Effects Abroad of Major Federal Actions.


.01. The Department has developed Department-wide categorical exclusions (74 Fed. Reg. 33,204 (July 10, 2009)). The Department's Operating Units may use theDepartment-wide categorical exclusions, unless an individual Operating Unit's procedures prescribe otherwise. If the Department develops additional categorical exclusions, Operating Units may determine whether to make the categorical exclusions available within the Operating Unit.

.02. The following ministerial actions do not ordinarily affect the human environment:

a. Normal Departmental housekeeping functions, including personnel actions, procurement for general supplies, and contracts for personal services;

b. Legislative proposals for appropriations; and

c. Legislative proposals for an extension of an authorization for appropriations.

.03 Compliance with E.O. 11988, Floodplain Management (1977), as amended by E.O. 13690, Establishing a Federal Flood Risk Management Standard and a Process for Further Soliciting and Considering Stakeholder Input (2015), and E.O. 11990, Protection of Wetlands (1977), and updating, implementing and interpretative materials will be included as part of NEPA compliance-that is, an EA or EIS will include material necessary to comply with these Executive Orders and related materials.


.01 This Order supersedes DAO 216-6 dated March 10, 1983, with the exception of the Department-wide NEPA categorical exclusions established by 74 Fed. Reg. 33,204 (July 10, 2009).

Signed by: Secretary of Commerce
Office of Primary Interest: Ecology and Conservation Division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

APPENDIX A - Operating Unit-specific NEPA Policies and Procedures

Economic Development Administration - Policies current as of the date of DAO 216-6, Implementing the National Environmental Policy, are at Directive No. 17.02-2, EDA PROGRAM TO IMPLEMENT THE NATIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY ACT OF 1969 AND OTHER FEDERAL ENVIRONMENTAL MANDATES (October 14, 1992), available at http://www.corporateservices.noaa.gov/grantsonline/Documents/EDA_DOO_17.02_02.pdf.

First Responder Network Authority - Policies current as of the date of DAO 216-6 are National Environmental Policy Act Implementing Procedures and Categorical Exclusions 79 Fed. Reg. 23,950 (April 29, 2014), available at https://www.ntia.doc.gov/files/ntia/publications/firstnet_nepa_notice_01082014.pdf.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration- Policies current as of the date of DAO 216-6 are at NAO 216-6A: Compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act, Executive Orders 12114, Environmental Effects Abroad of Major Federal Actions; 11988 and 13690, Floodplain Management; and 11990, Protection of Wetlands (April 22, 2016), available at http://www.corporateservices.noaa.gov/ames/administrative_orders/chapter_216/216-6A.html.