“Better coordination among federal agencies that collect, maintain, and use geospatial information could help reduce duplication of geospatial investments and provide the opportunity for potential savings of millions of dollars.”
For full analysis, please visit GAO here.
GAO-15-193: Published: Feb 12, 2015. Publicly Released: Mar 16, 2015.
GAO-14-226T: Published: Dec 5, 2013. Publicly Released: Dec 5, 2013.
GAO-13-94: Published: Nov 26, 2012. Publicly Released: Nov 26, 2012.
Information Technology: OMB Needs to Improve Its Guidance on IT Investments
GAO-11-826: Published: Sep 29, 2011. Publicly Released: Oct 26, 2011.
Geospatial Information: Better Coordination Needed to Identify and Reduce Duplicative Investments
GAO-04-703: Published: Jun 23, 2004. Publicly Released: Jun 23, 2004.
Geospatial Data: Progress Needed on Identifying Expenditures, Building and Utilizing Data Infrastructure, and Reducing Duplicative Efforts (GAO-15-193, Released March 16, 2015).Federal agencies and state governments use a variety of geospatial datasets to support their missions. For example, after Hurricane Sandy in 2012, the Federal Emergency Management Agency used geospatial data to identify 44,000 households that were damaged and inaccessible and reported that, as a result, it was able to provide expedited assistance to area residents. Federal agencies report spending billions of dollars on geospatial investments; however, the estimates are understated because agencies do not always track geospatial investments. For example, these estimates do not include billions of dollars spent on earth-observing satellites that produce volumes of geospatial data. The Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) have started an initiative to have agencies identify and report annually on geospatial-related investments as part of the fiscal year 2017 budget process.
FGDC and selected federal agencies have made progress in implementing their responsibilities for the National Spatial Data Infrastructure as outlined in OMB guidance; however, critical items remain incomplete. For example, the committee established a clearinghouse for records on geospatial data, but the clearinghouse lacks an effective search capability and performance monitoring. FGDC also initiated plans and activities for coordinating with state governments on the collection of geospatial data; however, state officials GAO contacted are generally not satisfied with the committee’s efforts to coordinate with them. Among other reasons, they feel that the committee is focused on a federal perspective rather than a national one, and that state recommendations are often ignored. In addition, selected agencies have made limited progress in their own strategic planning efforts and in using the clearinghouse to register their data to ensure they do not invest in duplicative data. For example, 8 of the committee’s 32 member agencies have begun to register their data on the clearinghouse, and they have registered 59 percent of the geospatial data they deemed critical. Part of the reason that agencies are not fulfilling their responsibilities is that OMB has not made it a priority to oversee these efforts. Until OMB ensures that FGDC and federal agencies fully implement their responsibilities, the vision of improving the coordination of geospatial information and reducing duplicative investments will not be fully realized.
OMB guidance calls for agencies to eliminate duplication, avoid redundant expenditures, and improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the sharing and dissemination of geospatial data. However, some data are collected multiple times by federal, state, and local entities, resulting in duplication in effort and resources. A new initiative to create a national address database could potentially result in significant savings for federal, state, and local governments. However, agencies face challenges in effectively coordinating address data collection efforts, including statutory restrictions on sharing certain federal address data. Until there is effective coordination across the National Spatial Data Infrastructure, there will continue to be duplicative efforts to obtain and maintain these data at every level of government.
Why GAO Did This Study
The federal government collects, maintains, and uses geospatial information—data linked to specific geographic locations—to help support varied missions, including national security and natural resources conservation. To coordinate geospatial activities, in 1994 the President issued an executive order to develop a National Spatial Data Infrastructure—a framework for coordination that includes standards, data themes, and a clearinghouse. GAO was asked to review federal and state coordination of geospatial data.
GAO’s objectives were to (1) describe the geospatial data that selected federal agencies and states use and how much is spent on geospatial data; (2) assess progress in establishing the National Spatial Data Infrastructure; and (3) determine whether selected federal agencies and states invest in duplicative geospatial data. To do so, GAO identified federal and state uses of geospatial data; evaluated available cost data from 2013 to 2015; assessed FGDC’s and selected agencies’ efforts to establish the infrastructure; and analyzed federal and state datasets to identify duplication.
What GAO Recommends
GAO suggests that Congress consider assessing statutory limitations on address data to foster progress toward a national address database. GAO also recommends that OMB improve its oversight of FGDC and federal agency initiatives, and that FGDC and selected agencies fully implement initiatives. The agencies generally agreed with the recommendations and identified plans to implement them.
For more information, contact David A. Powner at (202) 512-9286 or email@example.com.
All Points Blog, Feb 25, 2013
Tim de Troye from the State of South Carolina offered a presentation that is an ongoing issue among states and local governments about how they distribute geospatial data collected with taxpayer money. He recognized that some organizations copyright their data and that data in South Carolina, for example, is available but through different agreements depending on whether it is spatial or not.
The big question in licensing geospatial data is to license or not to license?
For full text of this article, please visit To License or Not to License Geospatial Data: Still a Challenge for Government Agencies – All Points Blog.
- Spatial experts added to Immigration’s skills shortage list (computerworld.co.nz)
- New NRC Report: Future U.S. Workforce for Geospatial Intelligence (geodatapolicy.wordpress.com)
When the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy announced its call for 18 Presidential Innovation Fellows last summer, US Chief Technology Officer Todd Park also asked folks across the country to support these Fellows with great ideas and valuable feedback. Over the past few months, through video chats, conference calls, and in-person meetings, thousands of Americans have connected with us to learn and share ideas about our work—and this Administration’s commitment—to unleash data from the vaults of the government as fuel for innovation….
After hearing this feedback, we had an idea: create an online showcase, highlighting the very best Open Data resources and how they are already being used by private-sector entrepreneurs and innovators to create new products and services that benefit people in all kinds of ways—from empowering patients to find the best healthcare right when they need it; to helping consumers detect credit card fraud; to keeping kids safe by notifying parents when products in their home are recalled.
For full text of the article, visit Introducing Alpha.Data.gov | The White House.
- White House Changing Policies to Open Up More Data… (semanticweb.com)
by Petr Keil, R you cereal? blog, January 2, 2012
Data-driven scientists (data miners) such as Rosling believe that data can tell a story, that observation equals information, that the best way towards scientific progress is to collect data, visualize them and analyze them (data miners are not specific about what analyze means exactly). When you listen to Rosling carefully he sometimes makes data equivalent to statistics: a scientist collects statistics. He also claims that “if we can uncover the patterns in the data then we can understand.” I know this attitude: there are massive initiatives to mobilize data, integrate data, there are methods for data assimilation and data mining, and there is an enormous field of scientific data visualization. … And they are all excited about big data: the larger is the number of observations (N) the better. Rosling is right that data are important and that science uses statistics to deal with the data. But he completely ignores the second component of statistics: hypothesis (here equivalent to model or theory). …
To read this article as well as the interesting debate that followed in the comments, please visit Data-driven science is a failure of imagination | R you cereal?.
- Data Scientists Will Unlock Big Data’s Promise (blogs.wsj.com)
- What is Data Science? (architects.dzone.com)
- The Human Face of Big Data, a Book Review (sys-con.com)
Geospatial InformationGAO-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.
Joanne Irene Gabrynowicz, Director, National Center for Remote Sensing, Air and Space Law, University of Mississippi School of Law and Research Professor of Law, will discuss the Charter on Cooperation to Achieve the Coordinated Use of Space Facilities in the Event of Natural or Technological Disasters (Disasters Charter), which provides for the voluntary sharing of satellite imagery in the event of major disasters. Prof. Gabrynowicz will address the contents, structure, and status of the Charter, and highlight its strengths and weakness with a focus on how it could develop in the future. She also will discuss data access and sharing ideas.
The United States is facing a year or more without crucial satellites that provide invaluable data for predicting storm tracks, a result of years of mismanagement, lack of financing and delays in launching replacements, according to several recent official reviews. The looming gap in satellite coverage, which some experts view as almost certain within the next few years, could result in shaky forecasts about storms like Hurricane Sandy, which is expected to hit the East Coast early next week.
For full text of the article, visit Dying Satellites Could Lead to Shaky Weather Forecasts – NYTimes.com.
- Flying Blind: America’s Aging Weather Satellites (science.time.com)
In re-launching the inquiry into carriers’ data privacy and security practices, the FCC argues that not informing customers about the software or its data practices may have violated the carriers’ responsibility pursuant to Section 222 of the Communications Act of 1934 to protect customer data “that is made available to a carrier solely by virtue of the carrier-customer relationship.” The law allows such data to be used only in “limited circumstances,” a term which is not defined in Section 222. It appears that one of the goals of the renewed inquiry is for the FCC to define the scope of the “limited circumstances.”
- FCC probes how carriers handle subscribers’ private data (fiercewireless.com)
- Net neutrality (economist.com)
- ICO Reopens Google Street View Data Slurping Inquiry (techweekeurope.co.uk)