Geospatial Information:

OMB and Agencies Need to Make Coordination a Priority to Reduce Duplication

GAO-13-94: Published: Nov 26, 2012. Publicly Released: Nov 26, 2012.

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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.

Further, the three agencies in GAO's review responsible for governmentwide management of specific geospatial data have implemented some but not all important activities for coordinating the national coverage of specific geospatial data. For example, only one agency has developed a plan for the nationwide population of the datasets under its responsibility, and none of the agencies have developed a plan to develop standards that facilitate the collection and sharing of geospatial data. Finally, while OMB has oversight responsibilities for geospatial data, OMB staff members acknowledged that OMB does not have complete and reliable information to identify potentially duplicative geospatial investments.

FGDC, federal departments and agencies, and OMB have not yet fully implemented policies and procedures for coordinating geospatial investments because these efforts have not been a priority. As a result, efforts to acquire data are uncoordinated and the federal government is acquiring duplicative geospatial data. For example, three agencies are independently acquiring road data, which is reported to have resulted in millions of wasted taxpayers' dollars. Unless OMB, the FGDC, and federal departments and agencies decide that coordinating geospatial investments is a priority, this situation will likely continue.

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 (Interior) estimated that the federal government invests billions of dollars on geospatial data annually, and that duplication is common. GAO was asked to determine the extent to which the federal government has established and effectively implemented policies and procedures for coordinating its geospatial investments and avoiding duplication. To do so, GAO focused on FGDC coordination activities; efforts within the departments of Commerce, the Interior, and Transportation; and OMB oversight. GAO reviewed FGDC and department documentation, such as policies, procedures, and strategic plans; OMB guidance and an executive order; and reports concerning duplicative investments.

What GAO Recommends

GAO is making recommendations aimed at improving coordination and reducing duplication, to include FGDC developing a national strategy for coordinating geospatial investments; federal agencies following federal guidance for managing geospatial investments; and OMB developing a mechanism to identify and report on geospatial investments. Two agencies and OMB generally agreed with GAO's recommendations and one agency neither agreed nor disagreed.

For more information, contact David A. Powner at (202) 512-9286 or pownerd@gao.gov.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Open

    Comments: FGDC issued its National Geospatial Data Asset (NGDA) Management Plan in March 2014, which covers actions through 2016. The plan is divided into two sections. The first section addresses the steps necessary to establish the management and reporting framework by conducting an inventory of the NGDA datasets and by creating measuring and reporting tools that will be used by all of the federal departments and agencies responsible for NGDA data themes. The second section addresses the steps necessary to implement the use of the tools created in the first section, which include cyclical assessments, annual planning, reporting, prioritization, and budgeting. The plan addresses many of the features of a good implementation plan. For example, the plan describes the vision and overall goal for managing the NGDA datasets and data themes. The plan identifies 10 objectives and 27 associated action items, including details on timelines, responsibilities, and reporting metrics. Each action item includes a discussion of the relationships and dependencies required to be in place for an action to be completed, and each action's intended outputs and its overall outcomes. Of the eleven actions scheduled to have begun by June 2014, nine were ongoing, but two had not yet started. One of the actions had been completed in accordance with the plan; none of the others had yet reached their anticipated completion dates. The plan includes objectives to formalize annual reporting to OMB on the datasets and data themes that are estimated for completion in fiscal year 2016. In the meantime, the status of the data asset management plan is discussed at the quarterly FGDC Steering Committee meetings, of which an OMB official is a representative. GAO has ongoing work to assess the quality of the plan, as well as the progress being made towards its implementation.

    Recommendation: To better facilitate the coordination of--and accountability for--the estimated billions of dollars in federal geospatial investments, and to reduce duplication, the Secretary of the Interior, as the FGDC chair should establish a time frame for completing a plan to facilitate the implementation of OMB's portfolio management guidance, and develop and implement the plan within the established time frame. The plan, at a minimum, should include goals and performance measures, and the FGDC should report annually to OMB on the progress made on efforts to improve coordination and reduce duplication among themes.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: On September 25, 2013, FGDC officials issued guidance directing all FGDC departments to identify planned geospatial investments using the Geospatial Platform. Specifically, the guidance states that before expending funds to collect or produce new geospatial data, a component shall search the Geospatial Platform Marketplace and any other appropriate sources to determine if existing or planned data meet agency needs. If an existing data source is found, the component is to obtain and use that data. If the component discovers that another organization has plans to acquire or produce geospatial data that will meet the program requirements, the component is to contact that organization to develop a plan to coordinate or partner with the other organization. If the component does not discover existing or planned acquisitions, the component is to create a metadata record that describes the planned acquisition and publish it on the Marketplace not less than 120 days prior to the planned acquisition. This guidance has been implemented by at least one federal department, the Department of Interior, which issued similar guidance to its bureaus and offices on September 25, 2013.

    Recommendation: To better facilitate the coordination of--and accountability for--the estimated billions of dollars in federal geospatial investments, and to reduce duplication, the Secretary of the Interior, as the FGDC chair should develop and implement guidance for identifying planned geospatial investments using the Geospatial Platform, and establish a time frame for doing so.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior

  3. Status: Open

    Comments: In December 2013, the Federal Geospatial Data Committee (FGDC) issued its National Spatial Data Infrastructure Strategic Plan (2014 - 2016). The National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI) plan addresses many of the features of a good strategic plan. For example, the plan 1) describes a vision statement for the NSDI; 2) lists goals, outcome oriented objectives, and action items that collectively address the major components of the NSDI; and 3) identifies the key factors external to the FGDC and beyond its control that could significantly affect the achievement of the NSDI goals and objectives. However, the plan does not address other important features of a strategic plan, such as detailed descriptions of how any of the objectives or related actions will be achieved, or performance measures that could be used to monitor progress. Moving forward, the plan states that action teams will develop project plans outlining how the goals and objectives will be achieved. The project plans that are intended to include: 1) detailed tasks and milestones, 2) timelines, 3) responsible parties, and 4) the identification of resources available to achieve the objectives. According to an FGDC official in June 2014, separate action plans for each of the of goals and objectives outlined in the National Spatial Data Infrastructure Strategic Plan will be released over a 3-year period, and the FGDC hopes to have a few of the actions plans issued by late summer 2015. GAO has ongoing work to assess the quality of the plan, as well as the progress being made towards its implementation.

    Recommendation: To better facilitate the coordination of--and accountability for--the estimated billions of dollars in federal geospatial investments, and to reduce duplication, the Secretary of the Interior, as the FGDC chair should establish a time frame for creating and updating a strategic plan to improve coordination and reduce duplication, and create and implement the plan within the established time frame. The plan, at a minimum, should include (1) a vision statement for the NSDI; (2) outcome-oriented goals and objectives that address all aspects of the NSDI; (3) a description of how the goals and objectives are to be achieved, including a description of the resources needed to achieve the goals and objectives and how the FGDC is to work with other agencies to achieve them; (4) performance measures for achieving the stated goals; and (5) external factors that could affect the achievement of the goals and objectives.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Department of Commerce formally designated the Chief Information Officer and Director for High Performance Computing and Communications as the senior agency official for geospatial information on February 28, 2013.

    Recommendation: To help ensure the success of department's efforts to improve geospatial coordination and reduce duplication, the Secretary of Commerce should designate a senior agency official who has departmentwide responsibility, accountability, and authority for geospatial information issues.

    Agency Affected: Department of Commerce

  5. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Department of Commerce issued a policy on September 26, 2013 that establishes polices and describes responsibilities for the creation and publication of geospatial metadata. For example, the department's senior agency official for geospatial information is to ensure compliance with the policy, and perform periodic evaluations of geospatial metadata creation, maintenance, and publication throughout the department. Agencies within the department are to ensure that their metadata meet or exceed the minimum requirements of the associated standards, and that all metadata is submitted for publication on the clearinghouse.

    Recommendation: To help ensure the success of department's efforts to improve geospatial coordination and reduce duplication, the Secretary of Commerce should designate a senior agency official who has departmentwide responsibility, accountability, and authority for geospatial information issues to develop a policy that requires the department to make its geospatial metadata available on the clearinghouse.

    Agency Affected: Department of Commerce

  6. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Commerce issued guidance in October 2013, directing all departmental offices and operating units to coordinate with other organizations, both inside and outside of the department, to determine if existing or planned data would meet their needs. The guidance also includes seven steps to take to avoid duplication of geospatial data. In August 2014, Commerce noted that the guidance was forwarded to the Commerce CIO Council to share within their bureaus. For example, NOAA staff was directed to publish metadata for planned acquisitions to the Marketplace, to search the Marketplace before acquiring data, and to coordinate with groups having or desiring similar data. As of August 2014, NOAA had posted information regarding 24 datasets on the Marketplace tab on the NSDI clearinghouse. In September 2014 Commerce also provided evidence that one of its agencies, the Census Bureau, had updated its standard operating procedures to include a search of the clearinghouse database for existing and planned datasets.

    Recommendation: To help ensure the success of department's efforts to improve geospatial coordination and reduce duplication, the Secretary of Commerce should designate a senior agency official who has departmentwide responsibility, accountability, and authority for geospatial information issues to develop and implement internal procedures to ensure that it accesses the NSDI clearinghouse before it expends funds to collect or produce new geospatial data to determine (1) whether the information has already been collected by others and (2) whether cooperative efforts to obtain the data are possible.

    Agency Affected: Department of Commerce

  7. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In 2013 the Department of Commerce (Commerce) created and implemented a plan for geodetic control theme standards. During 2013 Commerce inventoried and reviewed existing geodetic control standards, specifications, and guideline documents to determine what updates were needed for existing standards. The department identified the personnel responsible for the updates and prioritized a schedule for their completion. In September 2013, Commerce finalized its plan to update the geodetic control theme standards. Commerce has begun implementing the plan. For example, in December 2013, Commerce issued an updated version of the first standard listed in the plan, addressing global navigation satellite system networks.

    Recommendation: Further, to improve the department's management of its geodetic control theme,the Secretary of Commerce should direct the geodetic control theme point of contact to create and implement a plan to develop and implement geodetic control theme standards.

    Agency Affected: Department of Commerce

  8. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In March 2014, the Department of the Interior (Interior) published its Geospatial Services Strategic Plan (2014 - 2016). The plan was developed through the leadership of Interior's Geospatial Advisory Committee, and in collaboration with all departmental bureaus and offices. The plan contains a vision, mission, and guiding principles. It is comprised of four strategic goals, each with a number of associated actions related to geospatial information and the supporting information technology infrastructure. Moreover, the Department has begun implementing its strategy. The Geospatial Advisory Committee oversees progress in implementing the strategy through the use of an action tracking and status database, which is available online to committee members and their designees, and through monthly meetings at which the status of the strategies is discussed. As of June 2014, the database contained 27 discrete actions, one of which was completed, 16 are in progress, and 10 are scheduled, but not yet started.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Interior should direct the designated senior official for geospatial information to prepare, maintain, publish, and implement a strategy for advancing geographic information and related geospatial data activities appropriate to its mission.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior

  9. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Department of the Interior issued a policy on September 24, 2013, to establish the requirements and responsibilities for the creation or publication of metadata for geospatial data. The policy applies to the department's senior agency official for geospatial information, as well as all department bureaus, offices, and supporting organizations that collect or produce geospatial data. For example, the senior agency official is required to oversee the development of robust governance and monitoring procedures for the management of geospatial metadata. Bureaus and offices are to document all geospatial data that is collected, produced, acquired, maintained, distributed, used or preserved by the department using a metadata standard that is enforced by the Federal Geographic Data Committee and that meets related federal directives and guidelines.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Interior should direct the designated senior official for geospatial information to develop a policy that requires the department to make its geospatial metadata available on the clearinghouse.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior

  10. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Interior issued procedures in September 2013 directing staff to utilize the Marketplace tab on the National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI) clearinghouse (currently hosted on the Geospatial Platform, see www.geoplatform.gov) to determine if existing federal, state, local or private data meet agency needs before expending funds for data collection. The guidance includes seven specific steps to be taken by Interior bureaus or offices to search the Geospatial Platform. For example, the guidance states that before expending funds to collect or produce new geospatial data, each bureau or office shall search the Geospatial Platform Marketplace to determine if existing or planned data meet agency needs. If an existing data source is found, the bureau or office is to obtain and use that data. If the bureau or office discovers that another organization has plans to acquire or produce geospatial data that will meet the program requirements, the bureau or office is to contact that organization to develop a plan to coordinate or partner with the other organization. In April 2014, Interior noted that the procedures for accessing the clearinghouse are being followed and provided evidence showing that plans for a number of the National Geospatial Data Assets (NGDA) annual dataset acquisitions had been posted to the Marketplace tab on the NSDI clearinghouse. Interior officials state that these plans not only provide Interior and other agencies with opportunities to collaborate, they also give the vendor community valuable insight into Interior's long-term plans for data acquisition. As of August 2014, Interior agencies have posted information regarding 43 datasets on the Marketplace tab on the NSDI clearinghouse.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Interior should direct the designated senior official for geospatial information to develop and implement internal procedures to ensure that it accesses the NSDI clearinghouse before it expends funds to collect or produce new geospatial data to determine (1) whether the information has already been collected by others and (2) whether cooperative efforts to obtain the data are possible.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior

  11. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Interior issued goals for the principal datasets comprising the hydrography data theme in August 2013. Specifically, Interior prepared goals for the National Hydrography Dataset, the Watershed Boundary Data set, and the National Wetlands Inventory based on user needs. The agency collected and analyzed user needs by working in conjunction with governing bodies representing the user community. These user needs were then included in the development of theme-related goals. Goals for these data sets include such things as maintaining and improving efficiencies in the use of cloud computing, developing mobile applications, and ensuring the quality and timeliness of updates to the data.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Interior should direct the hydrography theme point of contact to prepare goals relating to all datasets within the hydrography theme that support the NSDI, and as needed, collect and analyze information from user needs and include those needs in the theme-related goals.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior

  12. Status: Open

    Comments: According to program officials, the three data sets in the hydrography data theme are currently being managed by the U.S. Geological Survey and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in accordance with the Federal Geographic Data Committee's (FGDC) National Geospatial Data Asset (NGDA) Management Plan issued in March 2014. These datasets include the National Hydrography Dataset, Watershed Boundary Dataset, and National Wetlands Inventory. According to agency officials, each of the four elements listed in the recommendation are currently being addressed. For example in regards to partnerships, agency officials state that approximately 100 federal, state and local agencies have collaborated in the design, creation, distribution and maintenance of the National Hydrography Dataset and Watershed Boundary Dataset, with participation fluctuating as agency business needs and available funding change. Similarly, data collection requirements and procedures, data verification tools, and national quality control and quality assurance reviews are also provided to enable states, tribes, academia, the private sector and other federal agencies to contribute wetlands data to the National Wetlands Inventory. According to agency officials, standards and metadata requirements are in place and being maintained for all three datasets. In addition, all three datasets are all made available through the NSDI clearinghouse. The FGDC is in the process of creating a standard template for all NGDA data theme plans, and Interior plans to use the template to document these activities in a formal hydrography theme plan and release it no later than the third quarter of fiscal year 2016. GAO has ongoing work to validate these statements.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Interior should direct the hydrography theme point of contact to develop and implement a plan for the nationwide population of the hydrography theme that addresses all datasets within the theme; and that includes (1) the development of partnership programs with states, tribes, academia, the private sector, other federal agencies, and localities that meet the needs of users; (2) human and financial resource needs; (3) standards, metadata, and the clearinghouse needs; and (4) a timetable for the development for the theme.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior

  13. Status: Open

    Comments: According to program officials in May 2014, the standards for the three data sets in the hydrography data theme (National Hydrography Dataset, Watershed Boundary Dataset, and National Wetlands Inventory) are firmly established and maintained by the committees that govern the respective datasets. Agency officials assert that these standards have been in use for many years and are highly refined documents. Agency officials state that the hydrography theme lead will confirm by the end of the second quarter of each year that the National Hydrography Dataset, Watershed Boundary Dataset, and National Wetlands Inventory standards are up-to-date and in use. GAO has ongoing work to validate these statements.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Interior should direct the hydrography theme point of contact to create and implement a plan to develop and implement hydrography theme standards.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior

  14. Status: Open

    Comments: According to an agency official in July 2014, the Department of Transportation (Transportation) has made progress on its departmentwide strategic plan, which will build on two other efforts underway at Transportation: 1) the development of a transportation theme-levels strategic plan, and 2) the development of a plan for transportation theme standards. As of July 2014, the transportation theme-level strategic plan is in draft. The draft contains completed sections on the vision, goals, and action items for the plan. Sections on geospatial roles and responsibilities, opportunities and challenges, and external factors facing the department will be developed over the next few weeks. Transportation is anticipating completing the theme-level strategic plan by September 30, 2014. As of July 2014, transportation theme standards for roads, airports and runways are in place. Transportation is currently investigating existing standards to see how they are applicable to the additional components of transportation, including rail and water. Transportation anticipates identifying standards for the remaining layers by the end of fiscal year 2015, at which time the department anticipates completing a draft of the departmentwide strategic plan.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation should designate a senior agency official who has departmentwide responsibility, accountability, and authority for geospatial information issues. The Secretary of Transportation direct the designated senior official for geospatial information to prepare, maintain, publish, and implement a strategy for advancing geographic information and related geospatial data activities appropriate to its mission.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

  15. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: On April 10, 2014, the Department of Transportation issued "Creation and Publication of Metadata for Geospatial Data" guidance to implement federal requirements for the creation and publication of metadata for geospatial data. The policy applies to all departmental agencies, as well as contractors hired by the department. Among other requirements, agencies are expected to document all geospatial data that is collected, produced, acquired, maintained, distributed, or preserved by the department using the metadata standard endorsed by the FGDC, include additional information whenever appropriate to provide the maximum information available through the standard, and submit all geospatial metadata for publication to the FGDC's National Spatial Data clearinghouse.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation should designate a senior agency official who has departmentwide responsibility, accountability, and authority for geospatial information issues. The Secretary of Transportation should direct the designated senior official for geospatial information to develop a policy that requires the department to make its geospatial metadata available on the clearinghouse.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

  16. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Department of Transportation formally designated the Bureau of Transportation Statistics Director as the senior agency official for geospatial information on January 17, 2013, and conveyed this information to executive leadership throughout the department.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation should designate a senior agency official who has departmentwide responsibility, accountability, and authority for geospatial information issues.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

  17. Status: Open

    Comments: On April 10, 2014, the Department of Transportation issued "Planned Geospatial Data Acquisitions" guidance which states that offices and operating units within the department shall not expend funds to acquire or produce geospatial data if an existing source for that data is available and meets mission requirements. In addition, if it is determined that another organization within or outside of the department is planning on acquiring or producing data that will meet the needs of the office, the office shall coordinate with the organization as soon as possible. Steps in the process include searching the National Spatial Data Clearinghouse and any other appropriate sources for existing or planned data, and documenting the date, search criteria and results of the search. According to an agency official in August 2014, the department has not yet attempted any geospatial data development or acquisition procurements since the policy was passed, so there is currently no evidence of implementation of the new policy.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation direct the designated senior official for geospatial information to develop and implement internal procedures to ensure that it accesses the NSDI clearinghouse before it expends funds to collect or produce new geospatial data to determine (1) whether the information has already been collected by others and (2) whether cooperative efforts to obtain the data are possible.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

  18. Status: Open

    Comments: According to the Department of Transportation (Transportation), the department's National Spatial Data Infrastructure Theme Lead is working with Transportation's Geospatial Coordination Council and individual data owners to develop implementation plans for the individual datasets, as prescribed by the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC). The implementation plans will include goals for the theme. In August 2014, Transportation noted that they anticipate preparing the template for the implementation plan by the first quarter of fiscal year 2015, and anticipate completing the implementation plan no later than the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2016.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation should direct the transportation theme point of contact to prepare goals relating to all datasets within the transportation theme that support the NSDI, and as needed, collect and analyze information from user needs and include those needs in the theme-related goals.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

  19. Status: Open

    Comments: According to an agency official in July 2014, the Department of Transportation (Transportation) has made progress on its theme-level strategic plan. The plan is in draft, and contains completed sections on the vision, goals, and action items for the plan. Sections on geospatial roles and responsibilities, opportunities and challenges, and external factors facing the department will be developed over the next few weeks. Transportation is anticipating completing the theme-level strategic plan by September 30, 2014. We will continue to monitor the agency's progress in implementing this recommendation.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation should direct the transportation theme point of contact to develop and implement a plan for the nationwide population of the transportation theme that addresses all datasets within the theme; and that includes (1) the development of partnership programs with states, tribes, academia, the private sector, other federal agencies,and localities that meet the needs of users; (2) human and financial resource needs; (3) standards, metadata, and the clearinghouse needs; and (4) a timetable for the development for the theme.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

  20. Status: Open

    Comments: According to an agency official in July 2014, the Department of Transportation (Transportation) has made progress on the development of standards and the implementation of standards for the transportation theme. Standards for roads, airports and runways are in place. Transportation is currently investigating existing standards to see how they are applicable to the additional components of transportation, including rail and water. Transportation anticipates identifying standards for the remaining layers by September 30, 2015.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation should direct the transportation theme point of contact to create and implement a plan to develop and implement transportation theme standards.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

  21. Status: Open

    Comments: In March 2014, the Department of Commerce (Commerce) published its Geospatial Strategic Plan (2014 - 2018). The plan was developed in conjunction with representatives from many Commerce agencies, including the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, the U.S. Census Bureau (Census Bureau), the U.S. Economic Development Administration, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). The plan addresses many of the features of a good strategic plan. For example, the plan includes a vision statement. In addition, the plan is comprised of three strategic goals, each with a number of objectives intended to make geospatial data more widely available, well managed, and more useful to Commerce, its partners, and the public. However, the plan does not address other important features of a strategic plan, such as detailed descriptions of how the objectives will be achieved, performance measures that could be used to monitor progress, or the identification of key factors external to Commerce that could significantly affect the achievement of its goals and objectives. Moving forward, the plan states that to ensure progress is being achieved on the priority geospatial goals and objectives, an annual Geospatial Strategy Implementation Plan will be developed. The implementation plan will contain specific actions for each objective in the plan, with the associated bureau lead milestones, performance indicators, and resources annotated for each. According to agency officials in August 2014, the fiscal year 2015 implementation plan is being finalized and will be issued by the end of fiscal year 2014.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Commerce should direct the designated senior official for geospatial information to prepare, maintain, publish, and implement a strategy for advancing geographic information and related geospatial data activities appropriate to its mission.

    Agency Affected: Department of Commerce

  22. Status: Open

    Comments: In March 2014, the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) issued its National Geospatial Data Asset (NGDA) Management Plan for 2014 - 2016. The plan was developed in conjunction with Office of Management and Budget (OMB) officials. One of the objectives of the plan is to develop and apply a standard definition of a geospatial investment in order to facilitate reporting on budgeted geospatial data investments, due to the fact that different definitions are being used by OMB, the FGDC community, and individual agencies. The plan contains two supporting actions for this objective. The first action, to create the standard definition of a geospatial investment, was begun in April 2014 and is planned to be completed by quarter 1 of fiscal year 2015. According to FGDC officials in July 2014, the team was developing its first draft and estimating an on-time completion. The second action is for the geospatial community to apply the definition in the annual federal government budgeting process. This action is planned to begin in the second quarter of fiscal year 2015, be implemented by at least a third of federal agencies by the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2016, and ongoing after that time. GAO has ongoing work to assess the progress of this objective, and other objectives, in the NGDA Management Plan.

    Recommendation: To improve OMB oversight of geospatial information and assets, and minimize duplication of federal geospatial investments, the Director of OMB should develop a mechanism, or modify existing mechanisms, to identify and report annually on all geospatial related investments, including dollars invested and the nature of the investment.

    Agency Affected: Executive Office of the President: Office of Management and Budget

 

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