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Projects:  Fisheries Operational Needs (FONS)

5.1. General Rules

5.1.1. What is the purpose of the FONS Module?

The purpose of the FONS Module is to capture identified needs beyond what the current Fisheries Operational base appropriations will cover.  It is also intended to capture Fish Passage Program and National Fish Habitat Action Plan funding needs (base or adds).

5.1.2. How do FONS projects fit into the overall budget process?

FONS projects are entered, reviewed, and prioritized by Field Station and Regional Office for a given fiscal year.  High priority ranked projects may be selected as part of a Fisheries Program budget increase request, which would be included in the President's Budget Request. Projects not included in the FONS database will not be eligible for inclusion in an operational budget increase request (or for fish passage projects or NFHAP - base and/or adds).

5.1.3. Am I required to enter FONS projects for my station?

No. However, only projects entered into the FONS Module will be eligible for new funding (through inclusion in the President’s Budget Request as part of an increase request). Some programs such as the National Fish Passage Program require project to be ranked prior to funding with current year appropriations.

5.1.4. May I enter a FONS project for a construction project or to conduct maintenance?

No. Construction / maintenance needs should not be entered in FONS (these should be entered in SAMMS). However, related SAMMS work orders may be referenced in FONS, to assist managers in prioritizing FONS projects.

5.1.5. Should my Project Leader review FONS projects prior to the FONS Module "lock-out" date for field stations?

Yes. The Project Leader is required to approve and “sign off” on FONS Module data for his/her Org code. The RO will not rank projects from Stations without "sign off" (approval) by the Project Leader. A data check error will be returned for projects that have not been approved.

5.2. Plans / Tasks Page (Project Information)

5.2.1. Do I need to associate each FONS project with a planning document (and why)?

Yes. All FONS should reference at least one planning document. Draft documents may also be referenced (see Plans Module). This requirement is used to demonstrate the fishery management context for the work you are planning; and to show that the work is relevant, and has partner/stakeholder support.

5.2.2. Where do the drop-down lists of Plans and Plan Tasks come from?

The drop-down lists of Plans and Plan Tasks are derived from Plans Module.  See 5.2.5, 5.2.6, and the Plans Module Business Rules.  

5.2.3. May I reference any plan found in the drop-down list as the primary planning document associated with my FONS project?

No. The drop-down list contains all Plans found in the Plans Module. Primary plans should be Regional, species-based, watershed and/or national in scope.  Station-specific plans, such as HACCP plans, are important and legitimate; however, a station-specific plan should not be referenced as the sole planning document. Such plans may be referenced as secondary or additional plans. Always first reference the plan that demonstrates the relevance of the project in the context of broader fisheries management goals and objectives.

5.2.4. May I associate more than one plan with my FONS project?

Yes, an unlimited number of Plans may be designated as relevant to the project. The "primary" plan should demonstrate broader project relevance and partner/stakeholder support.

5.2.5. What if the Plan I need to reference does not appear in the drop-down list of Plans?

If a Plan associated with a project does not appear in the drop-down lists provided in the FONS Module, contact your Regional FIS Coordinator. It is the role of the FIS Coordinator to determine whether the Plan should be added and to designate a “plan expert” to enter the plan. Once entered, the new information will be immediately available in the FONS Module, within the drop-down lists.

5.2.6. May I enter a new Plan into the Plans Module if I need to reference it?

IMPORTANT: NO! You must email your FIS Coordinator with a request to add a Plan to the Plans Module. The FIS Coordinator will review the Plan request to determine whether it is a legitimate plan, enter basic Plan information, and then assign a “Plan Expert” who will then have the ongoing responsibility to ensure that the Plan information is correct and remains current (note: the Plan Expert could be you or another Station).

5.2.7. Why are the Fisheries Strategic Plan and/or my Regional Fisheries Strategic Plan not in the drop-down list of Plans?

All work conducted by the Fisheries Program is assumed to be aligned with the National Fisheries Strategic Plan. The National Fisheries Strategic Plan objectives that your planned project is associated with must be referenced in the FONS Module.  Note:  Some Regional Plans do exist in the Plans Module – for more information, contact your Regional FIS Coordinator.5.2.8. Do I need to reference specific tasks that I plan to conduct under the plan(s) I have chosen to associate my project with?

Yes. The Fisheries Program has Performance Measures that track Fisheries Program contributions towards implementation of plan goals and objectives that are tracked at the plan task level. Tasks that your FONS project plans to address should be entered.

5.2.8. May I continue to reference a task that has been deleted from the Plans Module?

No, a deleted task will no longer be available for selection by FONS projects. However, before a plan expert may delete a task from the plans module that task must be de-referenced from any FONS project with which it is associated. This requires coordination between the plan expert and the owners of the referring projects. Any plan expert deleting or modifying plan task(s) should notify his/her FIS Coordinator and, ideally, other stations that may be affected by the removal or change of that task.

5.2.9. How do I add a new task to an existing plan so that I can reference it in the FONS Module? (i.e. I can’t find the task I am working on in the drop-down list of tasks under the Plan I have chosen).

If a Plan Task associated with your project does not appear in the drop-down Task list provided in the FONS Module (under the Plan you have chosen), you may request the “Plan Expert” to add the required task. Once entered, the new information will be available in the FONS Module, within the drop-down list of Tasks for that Plan.

Note: To contact the Plan Expert, click the “view” link next to the plan name. Optionally, you may go to the Plans Module, open the Plan you are interested in and view the Plan Expert contact information. You may also contact your FIS Coordinator with your request.

5.2.10. How does the plan task information that I enter in the FONS Module under the "Plan/Task" channel "roll up" to the FONS Module's "Performance Measure" channel?

Unlike the Accomplishments module, the FONS module does not directly link the information you provided under the Plans/tasks page to the Performance measure page. Users need to go to the Performance Measure channel and select the appropriate task-based performance measure(s) from the Operational Plan drop-down menu and estimate the numeric value of tasks you plan to work on.

5.3. Performance Measure Reporting Page (Project Information)

5.3.1. Do I need to indicate which Performance Measures my project expects to accomplish?

Yes, all FONS projects are required to indicate expected progress on one or more performance measure(s). Exceptions may include:

  • Outreach activities that do not involve visitors or Friends groups

5.3.2. Is it OK to estimate expected contributions to any of the performance measures listed, if they apply to my project?

Yes, the Performance Measures apply to the whole Fisheries Program.

5.3.3. Are estimates of expected contributions to Performance Measures in the FONS Module used to set targets?

No. The FONS Module only documents Fisheries Program operational needs. The purpose of estimating Performance Measure contributions in the FONS Module is to help demonstrate project relevance, which helps in ranking the project for funding. Targets are calculated based on expected contributions to performance measures through existing Fisheries Program base and other funds.

5.4. Funding (Project Information)

5.4.1. Is there a minimum or maximum funding level that can be requested as part of a FONS project?

No, however projects should be realistic and specific in terms of funding needed, expected accomplishments, and should be relevant to the Fisheries Strategic Plan.

5.4.2. Should I designate all anticipated sources of funding associated with my accomplishment record?

Yes. FONS project should include all sources of estimated funding (including partner matching funds and reimbursables, since potential leveraged funding is relevant information).

5.4.3. If my project is a multi-year project, and funding needs are anticipated to increase or decrease over the life of the project, how should I enter funding needs?

You may enter the anticipated funding required each year over a 5-year period. However, this should be used primarily for projects with decreasing funding needs (since the maximum you will receive in any year will likely be the amount entered for the first year of the project). A 3.5% multiplier for inflation has been built into the Module to anticipate increases in labor, supplies, and materials over time for multi-year projects regardless of whether or not the multi-year funding level is increasing, decreasing, or remaining level.

5.4.4. If my project is dependent upon a related SAMMS work order, how do I indicate this to the RO?

There is a field in the funding page that allows you to list a corresponding SAMMS work order numbers. RO staff will consider this when ranking your FONS project. The work orders entered in FIS should be directly related to the success of the FONS project.

5.4.5. If a FONS project calls for hiring an additional FTE, should the estimated project length always be >5 years?

Yes. However, your FONS projects should still have well defined goals and objectives, and indicate in the narrative that the project  is long-term in nature due to staffing needs. Salary and benefit costs should be factored into the funding codes in the Fund table and correlate with the number of FTE(s) logged in the ‘Record anticipated new FTEs’ section.

5.5. Partners and Friends Groups Page (Project Information)

Refer to the Accomplishment module Partners and Friends Groups Page (Project Information).

5.6. Species / Populations Page (Project Information)

5.6.1. Am I required to indicate a primary species benefited for each FONS project?

Yes, this allows species- (and species status-) based analysis of FONS projects for ranking and planning. Select the species with the most critical conservation needs (e.g. federally-listed as endangered/threatened) as the primary species.

Some projects benefit multiple species, and you may indicate this by selecting the 'Multiple' species option. However, be aware that this selection (multiple species) registers a null value in the performance measure counts. Therefore, a better option might be to select one of the "multiple species" as primary and add others as secondary species.

5.6.2. Why do I see only a limited number of species on the drop-down list?

The species that appear as choices in the drop down lists are "customized" for individual stations to avoid scrolling through long lists.

If a relevant species is not listed, a user may switch to the "Station Profile" Module and edit (add or delete) the species list for that station.

If the species or population is not in the drop-down list under the Station Profile (i.e. not in the FIS master species list) then contact your FIS Coordinator.

5.6.3. After I enter a species, do I have to also indicate a population?

Yes, the wild population benefited should be indicated, if known (and relevant). For mitigation activities that have management objectives that are not population-based, species-level information is adequate. 

5.6.4. Why can't I find invasive species on the species list?

Invasive species targeted by a project should be reported under the "Nuisance Species Managed" field on the same page. This allows you to indicate the nuisance species your project targets, and also the native species benefited by your work.

Contact your FIS Coordinator if the invasive species in question is not listed.

5.6.5. Are native species that are problematic outside their normal range included in the list of “Nuisance Species Managed"?

Yes, a species native to one part of the U.S. is not necessarily native nation-wide and thus is potentially invasive outside its native range. This list allows your station to report its activities related to the control or eradication of problematic native species as well as non-natives. Species that are native to the U.S. are specially designated on the ANS list by the "outside their native range" qualifier following the species name (e.g. Atlantic menhaden - outside its native range).

Note: Inclusion of native species on the FIS ANS list as "potentially invasive" does not imply that control/removal is called for.

5.7. Project Details Page (Project Information)

5.7.1. If my proposed project is one part of a multi-station (shared) project, how do I indicate this when I enter the project into FONS?

Projects should be linked by a Shared Code only if all projects in the "share" are inter-related to the extent that if one project in the "share" is not funded or completed, the linked projects are compromised in their ability to complete their respective tasks.

To indicate a shared project, each project leader involved enters a Shared Code obtained from the Regional FIS Coordinator for the "lead" station. A lead station must be designated to obtain the shared code for all field offices involved. (The "lead" station may be a totally arbitrary designation for the sole purpose of obtaining a shared code). Note: Each facility sharing the project will have a different Project Number but will always have the same Shared Code number in the Shared Code field. Check with your Regional FIS Coordinator for any regional specific guidance.

Shared Codes are assigned by the RO according to the following rule:

  • Format = 00000000-000-00 (Regions, lead first - # Assigned - FIS Year)

  • Example: 00003156-001-06 (Regions 3, 1, 5, and 6 are involved; Region 3 is the lead; first shared code assigned by the Region; year is 2006).

  • Example: 00000002-005-06 (Two or more facilities in Region 2 are involved; 5th shared code assigned by the Region; year is 2006).

  • Example: 00000842-010-06 (Regions CNO,4, and 2 are involved; CNO is the lead; 10th shared code assigned by the RO; year is 2006).

Multi-station projects within a region may be inputted by the lead office only, but should carefully note with narratives both participating stations, functions, and anticipated funding allotment between each listed station.

5.7.2. Should shared projects have the same title?

Yes. Shared projects should have the same title and shared code, but the project # will be different and the description for your field station should clearly indicate the unique role/contribution of your field station.

5.7.3. Do shared projects need to be ranked the same in order to be funded?

Ranking Shared Projects: When ranking FONS projects, projects with a Shared Code should be given the similar rank by each of the field offices involved and, for multi-Regional projects, by each Region involved, as appropriate.

The purpose of shared codes is to designate collaborative, inter-dependant projects that need to occur together or not at all, and therefore should be ranked the similarly.

5.7.4. What should be entered in the (Planned) Accomplishment Summary field? How is the (Planned) Accomplishment Summary different from the Description?

The accomplishment summary describes the highlights of what the project will accomplish. The project description should contain more detailed project information including the project’s importance, the problem it addresses, the project’s objectives, the methods to be employed and any further information about the project that cannot be covered in the other narrative sections

5.7.5. Do I need to break down the project description into the five fields provided?

Yes. You should use all of these fields (using all 5 fields may better represent your project in the ranking process).

5.7.6. Where do I enter project latitude and longitude information?

Until a separate ‘Location’ channel is developed, project latitude and longitude information should be entered as the last piece of information in the Project Details page in the ‘Additional Information’ section. The latitude and longitude information needs to be in decimal degrees. If the project is a fish passage project and the barrier location information was previously entered in the barrier channel, this step is not necessary. Be as accurate as possible.

5.7.7. Who is a Project Lead?

Project contact person must be a Service employee . The Project Leader may designate him/herself as the primary contact for all projects, or designate a project lead. The person who is listed as the project contact must be able to answer inquiries regarding the project.

5.8. Strategic Plan Goals (Project Information)

5.8.1. Do all FONS records need to be associated with a Fish & Aquatic Conservation (FAC) Strategic Plan goal? 

Yes. The FAC Strategic Plan (2016-2020) provides guidance for work conducted by the Fisheries Program. The FAC Strategic Plan was developed with partner/stakeholder input and defines FWS roles and responsibilities in fish & aquatic resource conservation and management. Each FONS record must be associated with a "primary" Strategic Plan goal (goal most relevant to the project).  If the project will address additional goals of the Strategic plan, one or more "secondary" goals may be selected, as applicable.

5.9. Project Leader Sign-Off (Project Information)

5.9.1. Does the Project Leader have to sign-off on all projects for the Station?

Yes. If FONS Module submissions are not approved and "signed off" by the project leader, they will not pass the missing data check and will not be eligible for FONS ranking by the Regional Office.

5.10. FONS Ranking (Home Page)


5.10.1. How are FONS projects ranked?

FONS projects are ranked at the field office and RO level (Headquarters Office users only see rankings). At both the regional and field station level, FONS project rankings can be created in distinct categories. Categories of ranking include, but are not limited to: intended funding source, congressional districts, species, populations, and NFHAP partners. Other categories can be created based on station, regional, or Washington Office priorities and guidance.

  • Field Station Ranking: Field stations should rank their requests in accordance with station and regional priorities and guidance. Project leaders may choose to factor in additional ranking criteria.

  • Regional Office Ranking: Regional Offices rank FONS projects in accordance with regional priorities. Regional Offices conduct ranking on the basis of information provided in the database, such as Strategic Habitat Conservation (SHC) objectives, planning documents (including specific plan tasks that the project will address), partners and leveraged funding, species benefited, etc. in conjunction with current regional and national priorities.

5.10.2. Is it possible to rank fish passage or habitat projects separately in FIS?

Yes. The ranking feature in FIS allows users to rank projects by categories in order to extract particular sets of needs (i.e. AIS, fish passage, hatchery operations, populations, etc.) for station, regional and Washington Office use when prioritizing and in consideration of project funding.

5.10.3. What are the naming conventions for the FONS Rankings?

Naming conventions for rankings will be set at the station, regional and Washington Office levels for specific ranking needs. A station can rank a set of projects for their own purposes and set their own naming conventions. A regional office may request stations to rank a certain category of FONS projects and specify the naming convention for that category of rankings. The Headquarters Office may require a rolled up list of ranked projects by category and set a specific naming convention to be used nationwide.

5.10.4. What happens to the FONS Ranking when a FONS Project is upgraded fully or partially?

When a FONS project is upgraded to an accomplishment record as a fully funded project, the associated rankings for that project will be removed. If a project is partially funded, the partially funded FONS project record will be automatically updated and all rankings for that partially funded project will be kept intact.

5.10.5. How can I rank all FONS projects for the field office or region?

Start by selecting 'Create new Categorized Office (or Regional) Ranking' from the FONS Rankings page. Do not select any search criteria (i.e. leave the search fields blank. This will allow a user to view a list of all office/regional FONS proposals, and then select and rank as many of them as desired

5.10.6. Do I have to first view all FONS projects for the field office or region in order to rank them?

No. Users can sort through a station/regional FONS list by applying one or several filters to limit the number of FONS proposals viewable for review and ranking. There are currently filters that allow a user to limit the number of FONS proposals based on Intended Funding Source, NFHAP Partners, Species, Populations, and/or Congressional District(s). Within each filter a user can select one or multiple conditions, but keep in mind that the more filters placed on FONS search, the smaller the number of proposals that will be returned. For example, selecting all of the Congressional Districts in a given state will yield a list of FONS proposals specific to that state only.

5.10.7. After I create a sorted list of FONS projects, what do I do next?

Once a user has created a list of station/regional projects—sorted or unsorted—s/he then has to select which proposals to rank by clicking the each proposal's 'add to ranking' link. This automatically moves selected projects under the 'Ranked' tab, and the database will track how many proposals have been moved to the 'unranked' list to the 'ranked' list. When a user is finished picking the projects s/he wants to rank, The 'Ranked' tab should be selected. Users can then rank the proposals moved under the Ranked tab in sequential order, save the list, and toggle between the unranked and Ranked lists of FONS proposals at any time to add new or delete extraneous proposals from the Ranked list. The 'Sort' button should be used to re-order ranked proposals if new ones have been added to the list since the last save.

Important! Prior to leaving this screen, users have to give their FONS ranked list a name.

5.10.8. What happens if I don't give a project in the 'Ranked' list a number, or if I accidentally give two projects the same ranking number?

FONS proposals in the 'Ranked' tab that are not given a number (i.e. ranking field left blank) will appear at the bottom of any ranked list. If two or more proposals are given the same ranking number, they will appear in sequential order until the numbering is changed. If any projects are given a ranking that is non-numeric (i.e. a letter or word) or less than 1, an error message will appear directing the user to input a numeric rank.

5.10.9. I want to print off my ranked list(s). Can I do that here?

No. However, users can print off ranked project lists in the Reports Module via the FONS ranking office (or regional) report, To do so, navigate to the Reports Module Home page and first select the Office, Region, Nation, or Limited Query option. Then select the FONS bar to call up a canned report by Office, Region, or Nation, which can be viewed online or exported into an Excel or Adobe.pdf file.

The Reports Module also offers a Limited Query option that – when fully functional—will allow users to generate FONS ranking categories established at multiple stations or multiple Regions.

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