Duplicative Federal Computer-Mapping Programs:

A Growing Problem

RCED-83-19: Published: Nov 22, 1982. Publicly Released: Nov 22, 1982.

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Federal agencies have begun to use the computer to prepare maps but, because their techniques have not been adopted in a coordinated manner, duplication has developed and opportunities for savings have been lost. GAO reported on the need for action to prevent further duplicative computer-mapping activities.

Duplicative computer-mapping activities have developed because the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the principal civilian mapping agency, has not had enough funds to keep pace with other Federal agencies' demands for computerized versions of USGS products. Several agencies continue to use different formats, codes, and standards to obtain their mapping information; however, if this continues, USGS will have to reconstruct its work when it carries out plans to computerize these same maps. Program officials at several agencies claim that the lack of a central database is the principal reason they began their own computer-mapping programs. Concern over the duplication problem has led to a number of actions, including: (1) the formation of an interagency committee to improve coordination and establish uniform standards for Federal computer mapping; (2) proposed legislation which would establish a revolving fund to finance a national computer-mapping database; and (3) a proposed Office of Management and Budget (OMB) circular designed to encourage interagency coordination and administration of mapping activities.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Director of OMB should issue a circular or other directive requiring interagency coordination and preventing the establishment of duplicative computer-mapping programs. The directive should create a rulemaking body to establish uniform standards for Federal computer mapping so that agencies can exchange data and the needs of map users can be met at reasonable cost.

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

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Interior should direct USGS to accelerate its production of computerized maps which are most needed by Federal agencies. The accelerated production should help to establish a database available for Government-wide use and reduce duplicative single-purpose computerizing.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Interior

 

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