GAO sees fire management flaws

Related Links

Fire management agencies must do a better a job using geospatial information technology to manage wildland fires, according to a report published on Friday.

The General Accounting Office released a preliminary report that identified a "hodgepodge of incompatible and duplicative data and tools" due to the wide variety of geospatial technologies and applications being used throughout federal, state and local offices.

During its study from October 2002 to August 2003, GAO's review focused on the five federal agencies responsible for managing wildfires including the Agriculture Department's Forest Service and the Interior Department's National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, Fish and Wildlife Service and Bureau of Indian Affairs.

While the final report is due later this month, the interim issue focused on key challenges such as the availability of compatible data, the duplicative nature of information systems, a lack of consistent infrastructure among agencies and field offices, inconsistency in training of geospatial specialists and ineffective use of new products and technologies.

The report noted the slow progress towards technological initiatives being made by the National Wildfire Coordinating Group, which contains representatives from the five management agencies and from other federal, state and tribal organizations.

Along with better overall management, GAO also identified the need for a nationally-recognized set of geospatial data standards for use on fires and a single comprehensive inventory of information systems and applications that would facilitate information sharing and avoid duplicating efforts.

Among the vast number of geospatial technologies that must be better managed are remote sensing systems, the Global Positioning System satellites, geographic information systems and specialized software that models fire behavior.

In its final report, GAO will discuss opportunities to address key challenges and improve the effective use of geospatial technologies in support of wildland fire management.


  • Congress
    Rep. Jim Langevin (D-R.I.) at the Hack the Capitol conference Sept. 20, 2018

    Jim Langevin's view from the Hill

    As chairman of of the Intelligence and Emerging Threats and Capabilities subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committe and a member of the House Homeland Security Committee, Rhode Island Democrat Jim Langevin is one of the most influential voices on cybersecurity in Congress.

  • Comment
    Pilot Class. The author and Barbie Flowers are first row third and second from right, respectively.

    How VA is disrupting tech delivery

    A former Digital Service specialist at the Department of Veterans Affairs explains efforts to transition government from a legacy "project" approach to a more user-centered "product" method.

  • Cloud
    cloud migration

    DHS cloud push comes with complications

    A pressing data center closure schedule and an ensuing scramble to move applications means that some Homeland Security components might need more than one hop to get to the cloud.

Stay Connected


Sign up for our newsletter.

I agree to this site's Privacy Policy.