GAO-14-226T, Dec 5, 2013
The President and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) have established policies and procedures for coordinating investments in geospatial data, however, in November 2012, GAO reported that governmentwide committees and federal departments and agencies had not effectively implemented them. The committee that was established to promote the coordination of geospatial data nationwide–the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC)–had developed and endorsed key standards and had established a clearinghouse of metadata. GAO found that the clearinghouse was not being used by agencies to identify planned geospatial investments to promote coordination and reduce duplication. In addition, the committee had not yet fully planned for 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 was missing key elements.
Other shortfalls have impaired progress in coordinating geospatial data. Specifically, none of the three federal departments in GAO’s review had fully implemented important activities such as preparing and implementing a strategy for advancing geospatial activities within their respective departments. Moreover, the agencies in GAO’s review responsible for governmentwide management of specific geospatial data had implemented some but not all key activities for coordinating the national coverage of specific geospatial data.
While OMB has oversight responsibilities for geospatial data, GAO reported in November 2012 that according to OMB staff, the agency did not have complete and reliable information to identify potentially duplicative geospatial investments. GAO also reported that FGDC, federal departments and agencies, and OMB had not yet fully implemented policies and procedures for coordinating geospatial investments because these efforts had not been a priority. As a result, efforts to acquire data were uncoordinated and the federal government acquired duplicative geospatial data. For example, a National Geospatial Advisory Committee representative stated that a commercial provider leases the same proprietary parcel data to six federal agencies. GAO concluded that unless the key entities determined that coordinating geospatial investments was a priority, the federal government would continue to acquire duplicative geospatial information and waste taxpayer dollars.
Why GAO Did This Study
The federal government collects, maintains, and uses geospatial information–information linked to specific geographic locations–to support many functions, including national security and disaster response. In 2012, the Department of the Interior estimated that the federal government was investing billions of dollars on geospatial data annually, and that duplication was common.
In November 2012, GAO reported on efforts to reduce duplicative investments in geospatial data, focusing on OMB, FGDC, and three agencies: the Departments of Commerce, the Interior, and Transportation.
This statement summarizes the results of that November 2012 report on progress and challenges in coordinating geospatial information and includes updates on the implementation of recommendations made in that report.
What GAO Recommends
GAO is making no new recommendations in this statement. In November 2012, GAO recommended that to improve coordination and reduce duplication, FGDC develop a national strategy for coordinating geospatial investments; federal agencies follow federal guidance for managing geospatial investments; and OMB develop a mechanism to identify and report on geospatial investments. Since that time, FGDC and several agencies have taken some steps to implement the recommendations. However, additional actions are still needed.
Implementing geographic information technologies ethically
ArcNews Online – Fall 2008
By Harlan J. Onsrud, Executive Director, Global Spatial Data Infrastructure Association
As the globalization of geospatial information resources and services accelerates, it becomes far more challenging to protect personal information privacy; pursue traditional business or agency revenue generation models; protect property rights in spatial data products and services; ensure access to government data, records, and services; and provide security for our information systems. The traditional means of exerting control are often ill-suited to dealing with rapidly morphing technological and social conditions.
The Socioeconomic Effects of Public Sector Information on Digital Networks: Toward a Better Understanding of Different Access and Reuse Policies
U.S National Committee for CODATA
Board on International Scientific Organizations, U.S. National Academy of Sciences
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
Date: 4-5 February 2008
Session One: Introduction and opening presentations
Chair: Daniela Battisti, Agency for inward investments and business development, Italy, Chair Working Party on the Information Economy
|Welcoming remarks and introductions||Graham Vickery, OECD|
|Workshop objectives and structure||Paul Uhlir, U.S. National Academies|
|The social and economic goals and values of PSI online: EU government perspective||Jim Wretham, OPSI, UK|
|The social and economic goals and values of PSI online: US government perspective||Nancy Weiss, Institute of Museum and Library Services, US|
|The value to industry of PSI: the business sector perspective||Dr. Martin Fornefeld
MICUS Management Consulting, Germany
|Achieving fair and open access to PSI for maximum returns||Michael Nicholson, PSI Alliance, UK|
Open Discussion Moderator: Javier Hernandez-Ros, Head of Unit, Digital Libraries and Public Sector Information, European Commission
Session Two: Different approaches for evaluating the direct and indirect economic and non-economic benefits and costs of PSI access and reuse policies in the online environment
Chair: Antti Eskola, Ministry of Employment and the Economy, Finland
|Public Sector Information. Why bother? Measuring European Public Sector Information Resources||Robbin te Velde, Dialogic, NL|
|Measuring the economic impact of the PSI Directive in the context of the 2008 review||Chris Corbin, ePSIplus, UK|
|Different PSI access and use policies and their impact on the social and economic values and impact of this information||Frederika Welle Donker, Delft University of Technology, NL|
|The price of everything but the value of nothing||Antoinette Graves, Office of Fair Trading, UK|
|Enhancing access to government information: Economic theory as it applies to Statistics Canada||Kirsti Nilsen, University of Western Ontario, Canada|
|Assessing the economic and social benefits of NOAA data online||Rodney F. Weiher
NOAA Chief Economist, US
|Exploring the impacts of enhanced access to publicly funded research||John Houghton, Victoria University, Australia|
|Assessing the impact of Public Sector Geographic Information||Max Craglia, Institute for Environment and Sustainability, JRC, Italy|
Session Three: Measuring the economic and social costs and benefits of the PSI: evaluation of the existing approaches and suggestions for future work
Parallel sessions (a) and (b)
Session (a) Eivind Lorentzen, Ministry of Trade and Industry, Norway
Session (b) Jean-Jacques Sahel, Director, Government and Regulatory Affairs, Europe, Skype
Presenters: Paul F. Uhlir and Raed Sharif (Summary)
Rapporteurs: Juan Carlos de Martin and Tilman Merz
Each session comprised:
An overview on different approaches for evaluating the direct and indirect economic and social benefits and costs of access and reuse policies for PSI in the online environment. This drew on the published literature, the OECD study and on recent analytical work.
A 90-minute panel discussion addressing questions including:
What are the commonalities and differences among the analytical methods presented in session 2 and in this session?
What are their main strengths and weaknesses, e.g. their accuracy, comprehensiveness, relevance, validity and reliability?
What are the most effective metrics/indicators to assess particular kinds of information/policies? Are there approaches and metrics/indicators that effectively measure the network effects of the use of PSI online?
What still needs to be known about the application of these methods to the evaluation of public information policies in the online environment?
What theoretical frameworks, models and best practices in other areas can be applied to assess different policies of access to and reuse of digital PSI?
What are some future directions and recommendations for the better study and measurement of access to and reuse of PSI online?
Following the break, the main points from the panel discussion were summarised by the rapporteurs (Juan Carlos de Martin and Tilman Merz), followed by discussion. This was designed to identify activities that could enhance understanding of the economic value and effects of different approaches to access to and reuse of online digital PSI.
Session Four: Plenary discussion: Wrap-up, conclusions and future work
Chair: Antti Eskola
Rapporteur presentation Session Three (a) Juan Carlos de Martin, Turin Polytechnic, Italy
Rapporteur presentation Session Three (b) Tilman Merz, consultant
Combined rapporteur summary
Discussion: What do we know and what next?
Conclusion: Graham Vickery, OECD / Paul Uhlir, U.S. NAS
This workshop was also supported by the National Science Foundation and the United States Geological Survey.