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Number: DAO 201-39
Effective Date: 2009-04-16


.01 This Order prescribes policy, responsibilities and procedures for radio frequency management within the Department of Commerce (the Department).

.02 This revision reflects Reorganization Plan 1 of 1977 and Executive Order (E.O.) 12046, as amended by E.O. 12148, and revoked in part by E.O. 12472; reflects changes in frequency management procedures and responsibilities; and provides a general update of the Order.


Socioeconomic development coupled with rapidly expanding technology has created the continued and ever increasing need for the use of radio frequencies to provide better and faster communications, navigation, and scientific research. The useable radio spectrum which supports this technology is a vital but finite natural resource which requires prudent management and conservation. Accordingly, requests for assignment of radio frequencies will be made by elements of the Department only when the proposed use is essential to their operations or will significantly improve the effectiveness or economy of operations. Optimum use of assigned radio frequencies will be sought and maintained. The Department adheres to Federal policy placing heavy reliance on the private sector in providing telecommunications service for its own use. Communications satellite systems shall be established only when they are required to meet unique governmental needs, or are otherwise required in the national interest. The Manual of Regulations & Procedures for Federal Radio Frequency Management (National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) Manual) § 2.3.3 is incorporated by reference in 47 Code of Federal Regulations §300.1.


.01 Except as specifically listed in paragraph .02 of this section, this Order applies to all levels of management and operations throughout the Department which radiate radio frequency energy in the conduct of the Department’s mission.

.02 The support functions outlined in Reorganization Plan 1 of 1977 and E.O. 12046, as amended by E.O. 12148, and revoked in part by E.O. 12472, March 26, 1978, insofar as they are specifically designed to provide direct support to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), are exempt from the provisions contained herein. This exemption does not, however, extend to the assignment of radio frequencies and the associated management of those assigned frequencies within that support activity.


.01 Radio frequencies are assigned to Government agencies by NTIA, upon the advice of the Interdepartment Radio Advisory Committee (IRAC) and its subcommittees.

.02 On behalf of the Department, the Office of Radio Frequency Management (ORFM), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), is responsible for providing policy guidance and technical and administrative support to all staff and operating elements in the establishment of requirements and in the management and use of radio frequencies assigned to the Department. More specifically, the ORFM shall:

a. Represent the Department on the IRAC, its subcommittees, and other related groups;

b. Develop and implement a program to achieve the most efficient use of radio frequencies
assigned to the Department;

c. Assure that established national standards for equipment design and operation are adhered to within the Department. Further, ORFM will assist operating units and Departmental offices in the resolution of technical and administrative problems in the preparation of specifications for and the justification of new or modified radio frequency requirements;

d. Examine each request for assignment of a radio frequency to assure that the need is justified to support a Department requirement which cannot be satisfied by other practicable means;

e. Assure that the element of the Department which requests radio frequencies can provide the technical competence and communications-electronic equipment necessary to ensure proper use of proposed frequencies;

f. Present sufficient justification to NTIA to assure the support of NTIA and the IRAC membership for the Department’s radio frequency requirements;

g. Assign all radio frequencies used by the Department after proper approval is obtained from NTIA, the national radio frequency authority, and adhere to the regulations and policies established in the NTIA Manual.

h. Maintain complete, current and accurate records of all radio frequencies and call signs which have been assigned for use by the Department;

i. Develop, implement and maintain administrative procedures required for the conduct of routine radio frequency management activities throughout the Department. These procedures will include but not be limited to routine formats for the frequency coordination, frequency assignment, frequency usage reporting, call sign data, and instructions in frequency management techniques and practices;

j. Develop, implement and administer a 5-year radio frequency validation and updating program within the Department in consonance with the national program directed by NTIA;

k. Assure resolution of all harmful radio interference to or from Department radio operations;

l. Satisfy all radio station call sign requirements for the Department;

m. Participate in development and implementation of Department emergency radio frequency communications planning in support of National Communications System Directive 3-10, COOP/COG communications planning and other National Security Emergency Preparedness (NSEP) functions;

n. Represent the Department in international discussions regarding radio frequency requirements and usage of radio frequencies for Department activities; and

o. With the concurrence of the Department of State, represent the United States in international discussions, conferences and meetings involving radio frequency allocation and regulation.

.03 The head of each operating unit and Departmental office requiring radio communication shall designate a liaison representative to ORFM concerning radio frequency matters. The representatives, who should have knowledge of current radio operations and anticipated future requirements of their organizations, shall:

a. Prepare and coordinate their organization’s requests for new or modified radio frequencies;

b. Collaborate with the ORFM in preparing justification for the proposed assignment of radio frequencies;

c. Provide the technical competence and adequate communications-electronic equipment to efficiently use the radio frequency assigned;

d. Assure the optimum use of radio frequencies assigned to their organizations;

e. Provide to the ORFM, on a scheduled basis, complete radio frequency validation and updated information as prescribed by the National 5-Year Review Program, to assure full and optimum use of those frequencies assigned to the Department;

f. Collaborate with ORFM on emergency planning, COOP/COG communications planning and other NSEP functions;

g. Submit all required documentation to ORFM for certification by NTIA for all new and modified spectrum-dependent systems, as required by OMB Circular A-11; and

h. Ensure agency use of the radio spectrum is in conformance with all applicable U.S. rules and regulations.


This Order supersedes Department Administrative Order 201-39 of October 20, 1980.

Signed by: Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Approved by: Chief Financial Officer and Assistant Secretary for Administration

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April 7, 2010