Office of the Chief Information Officer

United States Department of Agriculture

Directives General Information

About the USDA Departmental Directives

DR 0100-001 Departmental Directives System. This regulation prescribes policies, responsibilities, standards, and procedures for issuing Departmental Directives.


Departmental Regulations (DR). Departmental Regulations (DR) promulgate Departmental policy; delegate authority; establish responsibility; establish statutory or interagency committees; and/or prescribe high-level procedures governing USDA activities and operations.  DRs also may include selected material of an administrative nature that is published in the Federal Register or the Code of Federal Regulations.  DRs must be reviewed and revised or reissued at least every 5 years to ensure they remain aligned with current applicable statutory, regulatory, and/or policy requirements.

Departmental Manuals (DM). Departmental Manuals (DM) are used for detailed, relatively lengthy but higher-level technical guidance that is procedural in nature and Departmentwide in scope.  Manuals generally are written for "specialist" audiences.  They provide standards and guidance pertaining to a particular subject or administrative function, generally of the type that must be referred to on a daily or frequent basis. Some manuals implement external agency directives with USDA policy and procedural guidance.  DMs must be reviewed and revised or reissued at least every 3 years to ensure they remain aligned with current statutory, regulatory, and/or policy requirements.

Departmental Guidebooks (DG).  Departmental Guidebooks (DG) provide guidance and very detailed information which may be more technical or programmatic in nature, which assists in implementing policies found in DRs and processes and procedures found in DMs. DGs may include guides, handbooks, standards, reference books, standard operating procedures, and other similar documents. DGs may not establish policy 3 or impose roles and responsibilities beyond those found in the governing Departmental directive.  Unlike DRs and DMs which should remain technology agnostic, DGs may be used to provide highly detailed technology or system specific procedures, instructions, or standards.  DGs will be subject to a streamlined formal clearance process (see DM 0100-001) and will provide OPIs with a method to quickly issue enforceable guidance in an agile environment under the Departmental Directives System. DGs must be reviewed and revised or reissued at least every 3 years to ensure they remain aligned with current statutory, regulatory, and/or policy, technical, and standards requirements.

Departmental Notices (DN). Departmental Notices (DN) announce:  (a) Policy or procedure of Department-wide interest that is temporary or of a onetime nature that addresses a single subject; (b) Permanent policy or procedure which requires immediate dissemination and will be codified into a DR or DM within 1 year; or (c) Delegations of Authority from the Assistant or Under Secretaries or other General Officers pending publication in the Federal Register.  DNs may not be in effect for more than 1 year and cannot be renewed or reissued.

Secretary's Memoranda (SM). Secretary’s Memoranda (SM) establish or announce changes in major policy concerning missions and programs of the Department, direct or implement action on Departmental programs, or redirect or change policy or action in Departmental programs.  Examples include actions which by law require the endorsement of the Secretary of Agriculture and delegations of authority by the Secretary.  SMs may not be in effect for more than 1 year and cannot be renewed or reissued.