Geospatial data management refined

OMB guidance adds to older principles

Geospatial data can seem almost as big as the world it concerns, but the Office of Management and Budget is trying clarify the role of federal agencies in managing it. New guidance now supplements the goals and roles initially established in 2002.

OMB Circular A-16 Supplemental Guidance, issued Nov. 10, stresses coordination among agencies and internal project managers. It also attempts to improve accountability, encourage a proactive approach, and calls for the appointment of a senior executive or senior level individual within the agency to raise awareness of and promote implementation of the plan.

In his memo to department and agency heads, federal Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra stressed the importance of data management, particularly geospatial data management, and the need for a unified management approach.

“A portfolio-centric model cures the single agency, stovepipe model by applying consistent policy, improved organization, better governance, and understanding of the public to deliver outstanding results,” he said.

OMB recommended annual development and execution of plans by agencies, with reporting of these plans to the Federal Geographic Data Committee. Additionally, OMB recommended the FGDC Steering Committee annually issue governmentwide steps for geospatial data management after consulting with agencies and report status of plan implementation to agency chief financial officers, CIOs and OMB.

Other recommendations and clarifications in the report include:

  • Routine inventories of geospatial data.
  • Development in each agency of a “theme lead” and dataset manager to lead and coordinate interdepartmental efforts, standards and issue guidance as well as establishment of a “dataset steward” to manage the data.
  • Descriptions of roles and typical tasks for each person or entity in the project including the FGDC and its steering committee.
  • An outline of the investment review, submission and approval process.

In the first year the FGDC steering committee will report to OMB how and when it intends to implement the plan and will continue to annually report the plan’s progress to OMB after the first year, said the report.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration began defining its geospatial data management and dissemination architecture after the Deepwater Horizon-BP oil spill earlier this year, reported GCN in July. Some government agencies, including the General Services Administration and the U.S. Geological Survey, are working to develop a cloud platform to manage geospatial data.

Additional and future reference materials on OMB’s geospatial data management plan are or will be on the FGDC website.

About the Author

Kathleen Hickey is a freelance writer for GCN.

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