NAO 201-32D: NOAA Visual Communications System

Issued 12/13/96; Effective 12/4/96 Last Reviewed: In Process


.01 This revision designates the Office of Public and Constituent Affairs as the focal point for administering visual services policies and procedures and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Visual Communications System.

.02 This Order designates the NOAA Central Library as the central depository for photographs and slides for all NOAA elements.

.03 This Order provides updated guidance to all NOAA elements in the Washington Metropolitan Area for acquiring and producing visual products. It also provides limited guidance for acquiring and producing visual services for NOAA employees outside the Washington Metropolitan Area.

.04 This Order also describes the official NOAA emblem and establishes guidelines for its use.


Specific guidance for obtaining visual products and services is provided to NOAA elements in the Washington Metropolitan Area. NOAA elements outside the Washington Metropolitan Area should contact their Line/Staff Office (LO/SO) public affairs office or their Administrative Support Center (ASC) Facilities and Logistics Division (FLD) for guidance. The NOAA Office of Public and Constituent Affairs shall provide assistance to NOAA elements outside the Washington Metropolitan Area as requested.


.01 NOAA Visual Communication Standards, dated August 1988;

.02 Department Administrative Order (DAO) 201-1, Approval and Use of Seals, Emblems, Insignia, and Logos, dated June 24, 1987;

03. DAO 201-1, Approval and Use of Seals, Emblems, Insignia, and Logos (Amendment 1), dated October 2, 1989;

04. DA0 219-4, Publications and Audiovisual Control System, dated April 4, 1988; and


.01 Audiovisual (AV) Equipment. AV equipment is used for the recording reproduction, processing, broadcasting, distribution, storage, or exhibition of AV products (stand-alone and exhibit structures). AV equipment includes, but is not limited to, film/video, still cameras, slide/motion picture projectors, VCR/television monitors, and overhead equipment.

.02 AV Productions. AV productions are presentations developed according to a plan or script containing visual imagery, sound, or both, and used to convey information. AV productions include slide sets, film strips, motion pictures, television (video tape, video disc, radio programs, audio cassette productions), and multimedia (productions, exhibits, and public service advertising campaigns).

.03 Briefing Aids. Briefing aids include visual aids for presentations such as 35mm slides, vu-graphs, drawn or printed graphic art mounted on cards or boards, and flipchart pads for display on an easel.

.04 Design. Design is the planning, selecting, sketching, combining, and executing of graphic elements to create a visually pleasing and functional product.

.05 Emblem. An emblem is a symbolic design used to identify organizations or institutions within the Department of Commerce (DOC). Emblems expire automatically when an organization or institution terminates. They may also require redesign and reapproval at the DOC level if a major change in organization or mission occurs. The NOAA and the NOAA Corps emblems are the only officially recognized symbols of NOAA.

.06 Graphic Art. Graphic art includes drawings or renderings, illustrations which include comprehensives such as rough layouts of concepts, symbols, graphics, lettering, type styles, photographs, and drafting. Graphic art can refer to the selection and arrangement of any of these elements in order to prepare camera-ready art for printing, desktop publishing, slides, visual aids, and posters.

.07 Laboratory Services. Laboratory services include film processing, slide duplication, video and audio tape duplication, and photographic prints from negatives or slides.

.08 NOAA Visual Products. NOAA visual products include, but are not limited to, AV presentations, design, graphics, exhibits, still picture, film and video production, and slide photography.

.09 Photographic Services. Photographic services include camera work for on-location assignments, portraits, award ceremonies, and other related functions.

.10 Seal. A seal is a device, authorized by statute, used for authenticating documents and for identification purposes. It consists of a symbolic design and pertinent organizational titles.


01. General.

a. For award/plaque fabrication, general certificate design and framing, vu-graphs, and other minor graphics/visual products, originating offices in the Washington Metropolitan Area can obtain these services using Blanket Purchase Agreements established by the NOAA Small Purchase Branch, OFA514, Room 4130, SSMC-2, or the Bankcard. The procedures are explained in Section 7a of this Order. Offices outside the Washington Metropolitan Area shall contact their respective LO/SO Public Affairs Officer (PAO) or their ASC FLD for guidance.

b. Graphic art services may be purchased on the open market by using the Bankcard, through the NOAA Small Purchase Branch by using a blanket purchase agreement, or through the Department of Commerce (DOC) Design and Graphics Team by using Standard Form (SF)-1. The procedures for the Bankcards, blanket purchase agreements, and SF-1s are explained in Section 7a of this Order. NOAA employees and commercial contractors must comply with the policies contained in the DOC Publishing and Printing Management Manual and the NOAA Visual Communication Standards.

c. To obtain exhibit services, originating offices in the Washington Metropolitan Area and the field may purchase these products and services on the open market. All activities shall be coordinated with their respective LO/SO PAO.

d. All inquiries concerning the provisions of this Order or the interpretation of the NOAA Visual Communication Standards shall be addressed to the Deputy Director, Office of Public and Constituent Affairs, Room 6013, Herbert C. Hoover Building, Washington, D.C. 20230. Copies of the Visual Communication Standards were distributed down to the branch levels of all NOAA organizations.

e. The NOAA Visual Communications System is vital in portraying NOAA's image to the public. Detailed information pertaining to this System can be found in the NOAA Visual Communication Standards.

f. Visual identification through the NOAA Visual Communication System is designed to promote and strengthen public awareness of NOAA and the relationship of its elements in order to project an image of efficiency, competency, and consistency. Size, proportion, spacing, positioning, and the functional relationship of design elements are established. Users should refer to the NOAA Visual Communication Standards for detailed guidelines before using the NOAA Visual Communication System.

.02 Emblems.

a. The official NOAA and NOAA Corps emblems, as described in the NOAA Visual Communication Standards, are the only emblems which shall be used for NOAA visual identification and are the only recognized emblems in NOAA. (See NAO 201-114, NOAA Commissioned Corps Emblem, dated June 21, 1991.)

b. The seagull featured on the NOAA emblem symbolizes the mission of NOAA and represents life existing and interacting with the elements of the sea, the land, and the air. These elements are the primary areas of NOAA's mission and concern. The NOAA emblem represents a symbol of life's dependence on the interface of these elements worldwide.

.03 Decals.

a. Decals of the NOAA emblem are available in 12 sizes ranging from 3 inches to 48 inches and are listed on page 1.4 of the NOAA Visual Communications Standards. Decals can be ordered by completing a NOAA Form 37-4, Stores Requisition, and sending it to the National Logistics Support Center, 1510 Bannister Road, Building 1, Kansas City, Missouri 64131.

b. Decals may be placed on:

  1. doors of NOAA facilities and offices, especially those seen or visited by the public;
  2. signs directing persons to NOAA's facilities and offices; (see Section 4 of the NOAA Visual Communications Standards before planning signs.);
  3. official vehicles which are usually General Services Administration vehicles not owned by NOAA; (The NOAA emblem, and only the NOAA emblem, may be placed on both front doors beneath the "FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY" indicia.);
  4. employee privately-owned vehicles;
  5. vessels and aircraft, in or on appropriate/conspicuous places, if not contrary to United States Coast Guard or Federal Aviation Agency regulations; and
  6. large-sized equipment, especially that which is seen by the public, on appropriate or conspicuous places.

c. The placement or use of these decals should, at all times, be appropriate, in good taste, and in a manner that will not reflect discredit upon NOAA, DOC, or the U.S. Government.

d. These decals should be removed or otherwise obliterated:

  1. when they give rise to controversy, as in the case of leased equipment or facilities;
  2. when facilities or office spaces are vacated; or
  3. when equipment is otherwise disposed of or sold.

e. Decals should not be placed on nongovernment property except on employee privately-owned vehicles and on employee briefcases without prior clearance by the Under Secretary and Administrator or their designee.

f. Under no circumstances shall NOAA decals be sold to anyone. These decals shall be used for official NOAA functions. A limited amount of decals may be given to individuals other than NOAA employees at meetings, trade shows, conferences, etc.


.01 The NOAA Office of Public and Constituent Affairs (PA),through its Public Affairs Staff, shall:

  • have general oversight for all NOAA AV projects and, through its LO/SO PAOs, provide counsel and assistance in AV productions, exhibits, and equipment procurement;
  • ensure that quality in design graphics is maintained;
  • approve the publishing of any printed material used in any form of visual production for distribution outside DOC; (Form CD-27, Publication Clearance Request, must be approved by PA prior to any publication distributed to non-DOC personnel.)
  • coordinate and obtain all clearances with the DOC Office of Public Affairs and coordinate all required reports, e.g., AV reports, required by DOC;
  • evaluate requests for controversial emblems; (Controversial refers to those emblems which compromise NOAA official emblem integrity. DOC-level approval of any new operating unit seal, emblem, insignia, or logo requires a justification based on need, design, reproduction requirements, cost effectiveness, program mission, and legal considerations according to provisions of this Order and DAO 201-1); and
  • provide continuing guidance, assistance, expertise, and contractual support to NOAA clients on the pre-production and production of all visual communications products. (Contact the PAOs for pre-production guidance and contracting based on rules, regulations, and policies established by the NOAA Office of Finance and Administration.)

.02 The NOAA Central Library shall:

  • make copies of still photographs and slides available for use in publications or for release to the general public;
  • select photographs and slides for placement in the central collection;
  • update the collection continuously; (Major NOAA elements shall provide good quality photographs and/or slides covering their principal operations and facilities. Still pictures and slides should include a caption describing the activity, date, geographic location, and other pertinent information. Photographs, slides, and related services should be requested on NOAA Form 50-5, Requisition for Visual Services.)
  • maintain, update, and make a still photographic and slide collection available to all NOAA elements, other agencies, and private concerns doing business with NOAA; (These images will be used in official NOAA publications, brochures, reports, press releases, and for exhibits and other special projects. Photographs are available on a free-loan basis to other government agencies, publishing firms, authors, and the print and electronic media. NOAA's still photographic collection consists of good quality prints, slides, transparencies, negatives, and copy negatives. Photographs and slides are illustrative of the major programs and regular or continuing activities of NOAA. Excluded from this central collection are copies of satellite photographs maintained by the National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service.) and
  • provide expert advice to NOAA LOs/SOs. Advice is defined as how to obtain camera work and laboratory services contracted through DOC and outside vendors which includes:
    1. photo taking of award ceremonies, presentations, and other NOAA-related events;
    2. laboratory services such as film processing, duplicating, and enlarging (black and white and color prints/slides); and
    3. photo stories for NOAA periodicals and other publications to be used specifically for exhibits, posters, and visitor centers.

.03 The head of the requesting office, or designee, shall ensure that information on Form CD-384, Audiovisual Production Request, and Form CD-386, Audiovisual Equipment Request, is complete and accurate before contacting the NOAA Public Affairs Staff. His/her signature certifies that:

  • the AV production equipment is essential to the requesting unit's mission;
  • all practical cost-reduction measures shall be used in developing the AV production or acquiring equipment;
  • alternative methods of communicating the message were investigated; and
  • existing AV productions shall not be duplicated.

.04 The requesting office shall:

  • submit a properly completed SF-1 before any design or graphic art production begins;
  • obtain required approvals, clearances, and reviews of intended productions, texts, and materials before requesting design and graphic art services; and
  • arrange advance approvals from PA for publishing any printed material associated with any visual product which will be distributed to a non-DOC audience. The requesting office shall also ensure all required forms are properly completed before any work is submitted to the NOAA Public Affairs Staff.


.01 The procedures for design, graphic art, photographic, public service advertising, and AV services, as provided for in this Order, shall apply to all requesting offices within the Washington Metropolitan Area. Procedures may vary for offices outside the Washington Metropolitan Area. NOAA elements in areas outside the Washington Metropolitan Area should contact the PAO within their LO/SO or their ASC FLD for guidance and assistance in acquiring and producing NOAA visual products.

a. Award/plaque fabrication, certificate design and framing, and graphic art services required for preparation of camera-ready art for publications shall be obtained through the NOAA Small Purchase Branch, OFA514, Room 4130, SSMC-2, usingthe following methods:

  1. DOC Bankcard Program - Guidance for obtaining and using a Bankcard are contained in Part 13, Chapter 1, of the Commerce Acquisition Manual (copies can be obtained by calling the Small Purchase Branch);
  2. Blanket Purchasing Agreements (BPA) - The Small Purchase Branch has established BPAs for the above services (awards, plaques, and certificates) and will negotiate and award additional BPAs, if needed; and
  3. Simplified Acquisition Procedures - Organizations requiring goods and/or services beyond their authorized spending limit should submit Form CD-435, Procurement Request, to the Procurement Operations Division, OFA51, for processing. The Small Purchase Branch maintains a list of vendors who provide visual arts goods and services. This listing may be obtained by contacting the Small Purchase Branch.

b. Graphic art services may also be obtained from the DOC Design and Graphics Team. To obtain graphic art services and products from the DOC Design and Graphics Team, originating offices in the Washington Metropolitan Area shall complete and send a SF-1 to the DOC Office of Administrative Operations, Visual Electronic Publishing and Communications Division, Design and Graphics Team. The SF-1 must contain a requisition number when it is submitted. These numbers can be obtained by contacting the Incoming Requisitions Desk at (202) 482-4099. DOC will help clients maintain the integrity required in products which reflect NOAA and its mission. Offices outside the Washington Metropolitan Area shall contact their respective LO/SO PAO or their ASC FLD for guidance.

c. The forms shown in this section shall be used when requesting specific services:

Form CD-108, Photographic Specification Sheet;
Also submit NOAA Form 50-5
To arrange for photographic services in the Washington Metropolitan Area To the NOAA Central Library before any photographic work is arranged
NOAA Form 50-5, Requisition for Visual Services To obtain film processing, slide duplication, etc. Central Library for processing
Inventoryof NOAA Publications DOC/PA
Standard Form 1, Printing and Binding Requisition To arrange only for graphic art services being done by DOC* No NOAA clearance required.*
Form CD-384, Audiovisual Production and Exhibit Request To obtain D0C-level approval for all new AV productions Clear through NOAA PA
Form CD-386, Audiovisual Equipment Request Forward with CD-435 to obtain DOC-level approval for all AV equipment Clear through NOAA Public Affairs

* This only applies to SF-1s for graphic art services. SF-1s for printing services using appropriated funds should be sent to the Printing and Publications Team, OFA531, Room 725, WSC-5.

d. Form CD-384 and Form CD-386 are required in the Washington Metropolitan Area and the field for the following:

  1. videotape duplicating (over 25 copies);
  2. purchasing a completed AV production; and
  3. procuring AV equipment.

e. The Form CD-384 and CD-386 are not required for the following:

  1. commercial entertainment productions distributed to NOAA-operated ships;
  2. information collected exclusively for surveillance, reconnaissance, or intelligence purposes;
  3. equipment that is an integral part of a vehicle performing reconnaissance; and
  4. equipment used in scientific data collection and analysis.

.02 The Deputy Director, Office of Public and Constituent Affairs, shall determine if the completed Form CD-384 or Form CD-386 conforms to DOC policy, technical requirements, communications objectives, and Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular A-114 (Revised), Management of Federal Audiovisual Activities, dated March 20, 1985.

.03 The Deputy Director, Office of Public and Constituent Affairs, shall make the final determination to approve or disapprove the production or equipment procurement request and return the Form CD-384 or Form CD-386 to the requesting unit. A written explanation shall be provided if the request is disapproved. A disapproval may be appealed to the AV Director, Office of Public Affairs, DOC, verbally or in writing. Appeal decisions are final.

.04 Completed jobs may be picked up by the requester from the Public Affairs Staff, by a delivery service arranged by the requester, or by other prearranged methods. The Public Affairs Staff shall sends jobs to the requester through the NOAA regular mail delivery service when requested.

.05 All NOAA elements shall comply with the provisions of this Order.

.06 By authority of OMB Circular A-114, all completed AV productions shall be evaluated to assess the value and effectiveness of their presentation.


NAO 201-32D, NOAA Visual Communications System, dated December 27, 1992, is superseded.


Chief Financial Officer/Chief Administrative Officer

Office of Primary Interest:
Office of Public and Constituent Affairs
Public Affairs Staff