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This information is intended to convey the underlying concepts for Reclamation's decision processes. It is not mandatory.
See the Reclamation Manual for official Reclamation-wide requirements.

Reclamation's Decision Process Guide

toolboxFrequency Charts

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Frequency charts can help pinpoint indicators.

This technique can help determine an issue or problem's significance and show what causes contribute the most to the effect. Marking down how often an event, problem, action, or comment occurs also helps provide a pattern so you can see what solutions would be effective. These charts will help you record sample observations so that you can start to detect patterns.

This can be used for questions such as the number of complaints about sexual harassment in your office, the number of comments on dam operations, the rates of fish passage versus water demands, etc.

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These charts include any sort of table or graph that helps mark the frequency of an event.

  1. Agree on what you are looking for.
  2. For actions (e.g., how often do purple salmon travel upstream here), determine how you will record each action (e.g., one mark for each purple salmon spotted).

    For problems (e.g., how often is the fish ladder out of commission), determine how you will record each problem.

  3. Recording the cause too will help determine which causes are the most important to reduce or eliminate.
  4. If it's an issue or comment, decide which categories will be used to record comments.
  5. Agree on who will record these actions.
  6. Set up the simplest chart you can--if it is too complex, people may not bother filling it out, and data may be lost.
  7. Agree on where the chart will be and maintain the chart.
  8. Everyone must collect data consistently and honestly. Allow time for this task.

Problem, event, issue, or action

Time period

Time period

Time period


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Please contact Deena Larsen 303-445-2584 with questions or comments on this material.