Tag Archive | Federal

GAO Report on National Strategy for Earth Observation

Environmental Satellites: Strategy Needed to Sustain Critical Climate and Space Weather Measurements

GAO-10-456 April 27, 2010

Environmental satellites provide data on the earth and its space environment that are used for forecasting the weather, measuring variations in climate over time, and predicting space weather. In planning for the next generation of these satellites, federal agencies originally sought to fulfill weather, climate, and space weather requirements. However, in 2006, federal agencies restructured two key satellite acquisitions, the National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS) and the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-R series (GOES-R). This involved removing key climate and space weather instruments. GAO was asked to (1) assess plans for restoring the capabilities that were removed from the two key satellite acquisitions, (2) evaluate federal efforts to establish a strategy for the long-term provision of satellite-provided climate data, and (3) evaluate federal efforts to establish a strategy for the longterm provision of satellite-provided space weather data. To do so, GAO analyzed agency plans and reports. …

For full text of article, visit the GAO website here.

Building a National Spatial Data Infrastructure 2.0

In the United States, a lively discussion is emerging on the next generation of the National Spatial Data Infrastructure, with a  focus on its governance and coordination. Below are links to articles, reports and editorials on this topic:

National Geospatial Advisory Council Reports

Federal Geographic Data Committee Reports and Presentations

2009 Proposals for a “National GIS”



NSDI Related Legislation and Hearings


Congressional Oversight Hearings:

Congressional Research Service (CRS) Reports to Congress:

Government Accountability Office (GAO) Reports to Congress and Testimony:

Executive Orders, Regulations and Guidelines

Executive Orders:

OMB Circulars and Memos:

FGDC Policies and Guidelines

The Geospatial Platform

NSDI-related Reports and Publications

National Academy of Public Administration Reports:

National Academy of Sciences Reports (PDFs are now free; for full list of Mapping Science Committee reports click here):

Academic Studies:

  • A Policy Appraisal of the National Map, A Federal Program to Provide Basic Geospatial Data For the Nation (Maeve A. Boland, PhD Dissertation, 2005) 

Earth Observation Governance, Priorities and Benefit to Society:

If you know of additional related documents or commentaries, please email us the links!

DISCLAIMER: The opinions expressed in the links and resources listed above are not necessarily those of this blog site.

GAO Reports on Federal Geospatial Investments and Coordination

Geospatial Information: Better Coordination and Oversight Could Help Reduce Duplicative Investments

GAO-04-824T June 23, 2004

The collection, maintenance, and use of location-based (geospatial) information are essential to federal agencies carrying out their missions. Geographic information systems (GIS) are critical elements used in the areas of homeland security, healthcare, natural resources conservation, and countless other applications. GAO was asked to review the extent to which the federal government is coordinating the efficient sharing of geospatial assets, including through Office of Management and Budget (OMB) oversight. GAO’s report on this matter, Geospatial Information: Better Coordination Needed to Identify and Reduce Duplicative Investments (GAO-04-703), is being released today. GAO’s testimony focuses on the extent to which the federal government is coordinating the sharing of geospatial assets, including through oversight measures in place at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), in order to identify and reduce redundancies in geospatial data and systems.

OMB, cross-government committees, and individual federal agencies have taken actions to coordinate geospatial investments across agencies and with state and local governments. However, these efforts have not been fully successful due to (1) a complete and up-to-date strategic plan is missing. The existing strategic plan for coordinating national geospatial resources and activities is out of date and lacks specific measures for identifying and reducing redundancies, (2) federal agencies are not consistently complying with OMB direction to coordinate their investments, and (3) OMB’s oversight methods have not been effective in identifying or eliminating instances of duplication. This has resulted from OMB not collecting consistent, key investment information from all agencies. Consequently, agencies continue to independently acquire and maintain potentially duplicative systems. This costly practice is likely to continue unless coordination is significantly improved. http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-04-824T


Geographic Information Systems: Challenges to Effective Data Sharing

GAO-03-874T June 10, 2003

Geographic information systems (GIS) manipulate, analyze, and graphically present an array of information associated with geographic locations, have been invaluable to all levels of government. Their usefulness in disaster response was recently demonstrated during the Space Shuttle Columbia recovery effort. GIS provided precise maps and search grids to guide crews to the debris that was strewn across 41 counties in Texas and Louisiana. The federal government has long been attempting to develop an integrated nationwide GIS network. The information available through such a network could significantly enhance decision–making in myriad public–service areas, including emergency response, national security, law enforcement, health care, and the environment. Among GAO’s objectives were to describe the federal government’s efforts to coordinate GIS activities, the long-standing challenges of adopting and implementing federal GIS standards, and the role of Geospatial One-Stop.

Read More…

White House Moves Towards Cloud Computing

The Briefing Room: The Blog
Streaming at 1:00 In the Cloud
Tuesday, September 15th, 2009
Posted by Vivek Kundra, U.S. Chief Technology Officer
Today, I am excited to announce that we have launched Apps.gov to help continue the President’s initiative to lower the cost of government operations while driving innovation within government. I’ll be discussing this in a speech at the NASA Ames Research Center at 1:00 EDT – watch the speech live here [UPDATE: This event has now concluded].
Apps.gov is an online storefront for federal agencies to quickly browse and purchase cloud-based IT services, for productivity, collaboration, and efficiency. Cloud computing is the next generation of IT in which data and applications will be housed centrally and accessible anywhere and anytime by a various devices (this is opposed to the current model where applications and most data is housed on individual devices). By consolidating available services, Apps.gov is a one-stop source for cloud services – an innovation that not only can change how IT operates, but also save taxpayer dollars in the process. …

Swiss Express Privacy Concerns with Google Street View

Swiss privacy commissioner says “nein” to Google Street View
By Eric Bangeman | Last updated August 23, 2009, Ars Technica

…Just days after launching Street View in Portugal, Switzerland, and Taiwan, the search giant has been told by the Swiss Government that it needs to yank the Street View from its Swiss maps, a development that has left the search giant “surprised.” Hanspeter Thür, the Swiss Federal Data Protection and Information Commissioner (FDPIC), has accused Google of not having taken the necessary steps to safeguard the privacy of Swiss citizens. …

For full text of article, visit: http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2009/08/swiss-privacy-commissioner-says-nein-to-google-street-view-swiss-privacy-commissioner-says-nein-to-google-street-view.ars

A U.S. Geospatial Strategy


 In October 2008, the National Geospatial Advisory Committee issued a set of recommendations for the 2008-2009 Presidential Transition Team. Highlights include:

FEDERAL COORDINATION: To coordinate Federal geospatial activities and to ensure effective intergovernmental and inter-sector partnerships with State, local, and Tribal governments; the private sector; and the academic community, we recommend that the administration:

Establish a geospatial leadership and coordination function immediately within the Executive Office of the President. The geospatial coordination function should be included in the reauthorization of the E-Government Act. The function of this position should:

    • Provide leadership on national geospatial issues
    • Develop a partnership-based national geospatial strategy
    • Oversee the revision and strengthening of policies (i.e. OMB Circular A-16) in concert with the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC)
    • Evaluate and clarify the roles and responsibilities of Federal, State, local, and Tribal governments; academia; and the private sector in the creation and maintenance of the National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI)
    • Coordinate the funding and acquisition of geospatial data

Establish and oversee an Urgent Path Forward for implementation of geospatial programs necessary to support current national priorities and essential government services underpinning the NSDI, such as:Require OMB and FGDC to strengthen their enforcement of OMB Circular A-16 and Executive Order 12906.

Establish/designate Geographic Information Officers within each Department or Agency with responsibilities stipulated within OMB Circular A-16.

  • Imagery for the Nation
  • National Land Imaging Program
  • National Land Parcel Data

Continue to task the National Geospatial Advisory Committee to provide advice and recommendation for the use of geospatial information and the related policies and programs of the Federal Government.

FEDERAL STATUTORY REVIEW: Revise restrictive statutory language as it pertains to non-sensitive address data in Title 13 U.S. Code and to “geospatial data” in Section 1619 of the 2008 Farm Bill.

 The FGDC 2008 Annual report is also available.








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