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.

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