Tag Archive | NSDI

GAO Says OMB and Feds Need to Make Coordination a Priority

Geospatial Information

GAO-13-94, Nov 26, 2012

What GAO Found

While the President and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) have established policies and procedures for coordinating investments in geospatial data, governmentwide committees and federal departments and agencies have not effectively implemented them. The committee that was established to promote the coordination of geospatial data nationwide–the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC)–has developed and endorsed key standards– including a metadata standard that includes descriptive information about a particular set of geospatial data–and established a clearinghouse of metadata; however, the clearinghouse is not being used by agencies to identify planned geospatial investments to promote coordination and reduce duplication. The FGDC has not yet planned or implemented an approach to manage geospatial data as related groups of investments to allow agencies to more effectively plan geospatial data collection efforts and minimize duplicative investments; and its strategic plan is missing key elements, such as performance measures for many of its defined objectives. Further, none of the three federal departments in GAO’s review have fully implemented important activities for coordinating geospatial data, such as preparing and implementing a strategy for advancing geospatial activities within their respective departments.

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NRC Releases New Report on USGS Spatial Data Infrastructure

Official United States Geological Survey Logo

Official United States Geological Survey Logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Science is increasingly driven by data, and spatial data underpin the science directions laid out in the 2007 U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Science Strategy. A robust framework of spatial data, metadata, tools, and a user community that is interactively connected to use spatial data in an efficient and flexible way–known as a spatial data infrastructure (SDI)–must be available for scientists and managers to find, use, and share spatial data both within and beyond the USGS. Over the last decade, the USGS has conducted breakthrough research that has overcome some of the challenges associated with implementing a large SDI. This report is intended to ground those efforts by providing a practical roadmap to full implementation of an SDI to enable the USGS to conduct strategic science.

For a PDF copy of the National Academies of Science / National Research Council Mapping Science Committee’s Report, visit: Advancing Strategic Science: A Spatial Data Infrastructure Roadmap for the US Geological Survey

GAO to Evaluate Federal Coordinating Investments in Geospatial Data

Government Accountability Office

Image by dcdan via Flickr

In a letter dated December 8, 2010 from the GAO to Mr. Douglas A. Glenn, Director, Office of Financial Management, Department of the Interior:

“The General Accountability Office (GAO) is initiating an evaluation of Federal initiatives aimed at coordinating investments in geospatial data — specifically, activities coordinated by the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) and OMB. …. GAO is beginning this work in response to a request made by the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.

The two key questions for this engagement are:

1. Have Federal initiatives been effectively established and implemented to coordinate investments in geospatial data?
2. Does unnecessary duplication of investments in geospatial data continue to exist?”

The GAO conducted a similar study in 2004, titled “Geospatial Information: Better Coordination Needed to Identify and Reduce Duplicative Investments? (GAO-04-703, June 2004).”

To conduct this evaluation, the GAO plans to contact representatives from DOI and OMB, as well as members of the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) Executive Committee, Steering Committee, Coordination Group, Secretariat staff, other working groups, and community.

Former FGDC Executive Director on Mapping and the Spatial Data Infrastructure

Mapping and Spatial Data: Infrastructures and Imagination

by John Moeller, Communia Blog,, Woodrow Wilson Center Science and Technology Program, September 6, 2011

“Cartographers, imagery analysts, geographic information system GIS specialists and others who work with maps and geospatial information operate on the premise that location or place is the most effective organizing principal for bringing together information and making it understandable for use. Others outside of the geospatial community are also increasingly recognizing that “where” is the most common integrating element of almost all data and information. In May 2011 the U.S. Congressional Research Service released a Report that highlighted the challenges to coordinating how geospatial data are acquired and used at the local, state, and federal levels, in collaboration with the private sector. The Report concluded that the issues of coordination are not yet resolved and that it will likely take some time, and several budget cycles, to evaluate whether the current model of geospatial data management is the best available model for managing the federal geospatial assets. …”

For full text of the article, visit Communia Mapping and Spatial Data.

New Congressional Research Service Reports on Geospatial Technology for the Nation

As highlighted by Steven Aftergood in Secrecy News, June 3, 2011:

Policy issues surrounding the use of geospatial information are examined in two new reports from the Congressional Research Service. …

“The federal government and policy makers increasingly use geospatial information and tools like GIS for producing floodplain maps, conducting the census, mapping foreclosures, congressional redistricting, and responding to natural hazards such as wildfires, earthquakes, and tsunamis. For policy makers, this type of analysis can greatly assist in clarifying complex problems that may involve local, state, and federal government, and affect businesses, residential areas, and federal installations.”

See “Geospatial Information and Geographic Information Systems (GIS): An Overview for Congress” (pdf), May 18, 2011,  and “Issues and Challenges for Federal Geospatial Information” (pdf), May 18, 2011.

Report: National Academy of Public Administration’s Forum on Place-based Public Management – All Points Blog

by Joe Francica, Directions Magazine, Monday, May 23, 2011

The National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA) in Washington, DC convened a forum on Place-based Public Management today [May 20, 2011]. The event featured several key government policy experts that commented on placed-based initiatives, a key priority of the Obama administration. … The panel of experts was facilitated by Scott Fosler, Lipitz Senior Fellow from the Center for Public Policy and Private Enterprise and the School of Public Policy from the University of Maryland, and a past president of NAPA. …

For full text of the article, visit Report: National Academy of Public Administration’s Forum on Place-based Public Management – All Points Blog.

Additional Resources

Place-Based Policies: Think “Where” First, Not Last

To kick off a new Initiative on Place-Based Public Management, the National Academy of Public Administration hosted a forum on Friday, May 20, 2011, to explore the potential that place-based policies and geospatial capabilities hold for improving public management. Speakers included:

  • Xavier Briggs, the primary author of the 2009 White House memo on Place-Based Policy and OMB Associate Director for General Government Services
  • Raphael Bostic, Assistant Secretary for Policy Development and Research, Department of Housing and Urban Development
  • Keith Barber, the lead for implementing DoD priorities for “whole of government” geospatial  capabilities, National Geospatial-Intelligence Administration
  • Michael Byrne, GIO, Federal Communications Commission, and lead for implementing the National Broadband Map
  • Jerry Johnston, GIO, Environmental Protection Agency, and geospatial lead for Data.gov
  • Mark Reichardt, President and CIO, Open Geospatial Consortium, a leading standards organization enabling place-based strategies

You can find more information about this initiative here.

R. Scott Fosler, who moderated the forum, summarized the key points of the discussion. First, Fosler stated, we must demonstrate “purposeful leadership.” We must identify the public purpose of geospatial technology implementation — economic development, environmental sustainability, community health, and security — at the outset. What are the expected outcomes and impacts for citizens? Second, Fosler noted that with respect to Place-Based Policies and related technologies, the Obama Administration is taking a demand-based approach, not a supply-based approach. Again, what is the impact, and how do we keep costs down? Third, Fosler asked, what are the processes and instruments that can be used to further develop and carry out place-based policies? “All these technologies are tools of management to be used in real-time and in real places,” he said. Lastly, Fosler stressed the importance of ongoing collaboration across boundaries, professions, governments, and sectors.

As we think about the future of the National Spatial Data Infrastructure, Jerry Johnston reiterated that we must focus on the public policy use cases first, not on the technology. Raphael Bostic emphasized that technology does not equal policy, and stressed the need for: 1) innovation and openness; 2) simplicity and ease of use; and 3) flexibility. He also listed several challenges that we must meet, including providing leadership on governance; creating community around placed-based policy making; lifting up applied uses; and developing “playbooks” from which communities can adopt solutions. Michael Byrne quipped, “think ‘where’ first, not last,” and then closed with an important point that federal data publication and consumption should be in a single vein.

Open Geospatial Consortium’s New Deal for Local and Subnational Governments

The OGC GovFuture Membership

By   Steven Ramage, Executive Director Marketing & Communications, OGC

Abstract: The Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC), an international consensus standards organization, has worked since 1994 to integrate geospatial information into the world’s information infrastructure. OGC standards dissolve the stovepipes preventing geospatial data from moving between different systems. Now geospatial data is everywhere in the world’s digital information environments. This presents many opportunities, but also policy challenges for local, state and provincial governments. These governments are major OGC stakeholders because they have much to gain from more efficient and effective ways of sharing spatial data. Their policy challenges include introducing new workflows to their partners and constituents and managing the risks associated with making spatial data more accessible. This article describes GovFuture, a new OGC membership offering designed to help governments address these challenges.

The first of a planned series of free OGC GovFuture Webinars, produced and presented by Directions Media, is scheduled for 2 June 2011. Darren Mottolini, Business Development Manager for SLIP at Landgate in Australia, will be our featured speaker.  Darren will describe the groundbreaking SLIP project, which benefits citizens, businesses and communities by making it easy to share government land and property information. Attorney Kevin Pomfret, a member of the OGC Board of Directors who writes and speaks extensively on spatial law and policy, will review the privacy, security and data rights management issues surrounding government spatial data initiatives. Mark Reichardt, President and CEO of the OGC, will provide a brief introduction.

Through technical interoperability enabled by OGC standards, location information has become an integral part of the information environment for people working in local and subnational (county, province, district etc.) governments worldwide. Ubiquitous location information and geospatial processing offer governments unprecedented capabilities and efficiencies, but this progress also poses new challenges in areas such as privacy, security and data rights management, and in readjusting workflows and institutional arrangements.

The OGC membership includes both technology users and technology providers. National mapping agencies and many other government agencies collect and maintain important geospatial information.  These organizations represent an important subgroup of the technology users. The value of a network grows with the number of users, and so it is with National Spatial Data Infrastructures (NSDI). National to local government agencies have an interest in helping local and subnational jurisdictions deploy geospatial systems that use and contribute to their NSDIs. Many of the OGC members who are technology providers have local and subnational governments as customers, so they, too, support the OGC’s new outreach to these levels of government.

The OGC is a rapidly growing global hub of geospatial activity and is thus able to provide GovFuture members with access to a wide variety of information resources and networking opportunities.

The key thing to remember about GovFuture is that it is more about planning and policy than it is about technical nuts and bolts. At the OGC GovFuture website (http://www.ogcnetwork.net/node/1568) you can learn more about what OGC has in store for government stakeholders. We invite you to become a part of GovFuture!

OMB Prepares to Shutter Data.gov

By Gautham Nagesh, The Hill, March 31, 2011, 7:15 pm

OVERNIGHT TECH: THE LEDE: FedNewsRadio reports the Office of Management and Budget OMB is preparing to shut down several of the White House’s key transparency initiatives by May 31 if more funding is not approved. The House spending bill only included $2 million of the Obama administration’s requested $35 million for the e-Government fund. Without additional funds, Data.gov and PaymentAccuracy.gov could be the first to go …

… federal Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra announced the release of the software source code for the IT Dashboard and another federal spending accountability toolkit. Kundra said the reasons were twofold: to allow the public to submit its ideas and improvements and to facilitate other states and local governments adopting the technology for themselves. …

For full text of the article, visit Hillicon Valley – The Hill’s Hillicon Valley.

#MAPPS Testifies on #USGS FY2012 #Budget

Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources

Oversight Hearing on

“Examining the Spending Priorities and the Missions on the U.S. Geological Survey and the President’s FY 2010 Budget Proposal”

Wednesday, March 9, 2011



Representative Doug Lamborn


Panel I

The Honorable Marcia McNutt
Director, U.S. Geological Survey
U.S. Department of Interior

Panel II

Dr. Richard Aster
President, Seismological Society of America
EES Department
New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology

John M. Palatiello
Executive Director

Dr. Jonathan G. Price
State Geologist and Director
Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology
University of Nevada, Reno
Testifying on behalf of the Association of American State Geologists

Dr. Craig M. Schiffries
Director for Geoscience Policy
Geological Society of America

In his testimony, John Palatiello, Executive Director of MAPPS stated, “The USGS operates primarily under authorization provided by the Act of March 3, 1879. It has been decades since Congress last enacted major surveying and mapping legislation for USGS. As a result, surveying and mapping has proliferated among more than 40 federal agencies, resulting in duplication, a lack of coordination, gaps in coverage and the absence of a strategic approach to providing the basic geographic information needed in the 21st century. The need for better coordination of Federal surveying and mapping activities has been well documented. … The National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI), established by President Clinton and reaffirmed by President Bush provides a framework for the geographic information America needs today. However, this priority is not reflected in the USGS budget.”

For MAPPS press release, click here.


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