FAQs

What is a Certified Federal Surveyor?
Why was the Certified Federal Surveyor Program created?
Who will be managing the CFedS program?
Is the BIA required to use Certified Federal Surveyors for all cadastral services?
Are Tribes required to use Certified Federal Surveyors for cadastral services?
Who pays for surveys executed by Certified Federal Surveyors?
Will surveys executed by Certified Federal Surveyors cost more than a survey by a local surveyor?
Who is eligible to become a Certified Federal Surveyor?
How does a surveyor become a Certified Federal Surveyor?
Can Tribal surveyors become Certified Federal Surveyors?
Are surveys executed by Certified Federal Surveyor federal authority surveys accepted by BLM?
What is a BLM Indian Lands Surveyor (BILS)?

What is a Certified Federal Surveyor?

A Certified Federal Surveyor (CFedS) is a state licensed land surveyor who has successfully completed the certification process established by the BLM Cadastral Survey Program. CFedS will perform a wide range of cadastral services within the state(s) he or she is licensed to practice land surveying. Certain services will be under the direction and control of the appropriate BLM Chief Cadastral Surveyor. CFedS will provide more avenues for accomplishing cadastral services for Indian trust assets and restricted fee lands.

The first certification examination was administered on February 2, 2007. There are now over 500 Certified Federal Surveyors (CFedS). Certified Federal Surveyors are surveyors registered/licensed by the State, however they may provide official cadastral services under the direction and control of the BLM. Some CFedS are employees of Federal agencies.

The CFedS Roster is available on the official CFedS website.

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Why was the Certified Federal Surveyor Program created?

The Department recognizes that accurate trust management begins with good surveys and that the private sector provides an excellent resource for accomplishing these surveys. However Indian and Alaska native lands have some unique survey issues. Many essential records are found only within the Bureau of Indian Affairs offices, special procedures have often been used for surveys on Indian lands and there are cultural and jurisdictional considerations that surveyors working in Indian Country must be aware of.

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Who will be managing the CFedS program?

A panel established by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and composed of members selected from BLM, the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and the private sector will oversee the program. The CFedS Certification Panel (Panel) has the authority, subject to the BLM Washington Office Chief Cadastral Surveyor (Chief) to adopt, amend and rescind rules as necessary to carry out the purposes of this program, including, but not limited to, rules regarding program administration, applicant qualifications, training standards, examination standards, continuing education requirements, recertification, roster administration, and fees associated with the program.

The Panel, headed by a Chairperson, is the representative body authorized by the Chief for the purpose of training, testing, administration, hearing, considering and determining matters of the CFedS program under the jurisdiction of the National Cadastral Survey Program.

More info on The Panel and Members

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Is the BIA required to use Certified Federal Surveyors for all cadastral services?

The initial goal of the CFedS Program is to assure that all cadastral services executed in Indian country are performed in accordance with BLM standards. The long term goal is for all boundary surveys to be accomplished under the direction and control of the appropriate BLM State Office Cadastral Chief (Cadastral Chief). However, there is no requirement that BIA use a CFedS for cadastral services at this time.

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Are Tribes required to use Certified Federal Surveyors for cadastral services?

The CFedS program is a voluntary program to train and certify professional licensed surveyors to perform boundary surveys and related cadastral services to basic federal surveying standards. Tribes, BIA, individuals, and other federal agencies will be encouraged to select surveyors from the CFedS Roster when contracting for boundary surveys or other cadastral services. The four certifications contained in the Standards for Indian Trust Lands Boundary Evidence must be completed in part, by a BLM Cadastral Surveyor or a CFedS. Of course, Tribes may choose to use only CFedS for all surveys of tribal land.

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Who pays for surveys executed by Certified Federal Surveyors?

The funding sources have not changed. A survey that has traditionally been paid from Tribal funds will continue to be funded by the Tribe, surveys traditionally funded by BIA will continue to be funded by the BIA.

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Will surveys executed by Certified Federal Surveyors cost more than a survey by a local surveyor?

In some cases there may be additional charges because the CFedS is required to provide a survey that meets certain federal standards. These standards have been developed by BLM and are designed to ensure that surveys or other cadastral services are legally defensible, provide a complete record and provide all the information necessary to support the accurate management of trust assets.

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Who is eligible to become a Certified Federal Surveyor?

Registered/licensed land surveyors under state law in a least one state, territory, or the District of Columbia who have had no disciplinary actions resulting in the loss of surveying privileges within the last 5 years, are eligible to become Certified Federal Surveyors.

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How does a surveyor become a Certified Federal Surveyor?

Applicants must complete a series of distance-learning training course equivalent to a four credit college course (approximately 160 hours to complete). Training includes seven modules with various problems, case studies and quizzes which must be completed. The training program prepares the surveyors for the six and one half hour Certification Examination. The completion of annual advanced continuing education modules will be required to remain on the CFedS Roster.

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Can Tribal surveyors become Certified Federal Surveyors?

Yes, but they must be a registered/licensed land surveyor under state law in at least one state, territory, or the District of Columbia who have had no disciplinary actions resulting in the loss of surveying privileges within the last 5 years to be eligible for the CFedS program. Pre-registered/pre-licensed surveyors may enter the program after passing the NCEES Fundamentals of Surveying examination, but will not become certified until they become registered/licensed in at least one State, territory, or the District of Columbia.

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Are surveys executed by Certified Federal Surveyor federal authority surveys accepted by BLM?

Certified Federal Surveyors may be used by BLM to execute federal authority surveys and it is the long term goal of the Secretary of the Interior that all boundary surveys in Indian country be executed under federal authority. However, initially many of the surveys executed by CFedS will not be federal authority surveys.

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What is a BLM Indian Lands Surveyor (BILS)?

The BILSs' primary responsibilities will include consultation and guidance for BIA employees, Tribal Governments, and individual Indians concerning boundaries, surveys, land ownership, resource management, and other legal and technical survey matters related to Indian trust, restricted and fee lands. BLM Indian Lands Surveyors will also provide assistance in the following areas:

  • Boundary survey issues
  • Fee to trust process
  • Probate process
  • Land description reviews
  • Inventory of survey needs
  • Resource management
  • Cadastral Geographic Information Systems
  • Public Land Survey System (PLSS) within Indian Country

Contact your Regional BLM Indian Lands Surveyor (BILS).

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