Compliance lacking for GIS

General Accounting Office officials say the government's efforts to coordinate geospatial data have fallen short, resulting in potentially duplicative and costly systems.

"A complete and up-to-date strategic plan is not in place to help guide and effectively manage these activities," said Linda Koontz, director of information management issues at GAO. "Federal agencies have not always fully complied with [Office of Management and Budget] direction to coordinate their investments."

Koontz was speaking at a hearing of the House Government Reform Committee's Technology, Information Policy, Intergovernmental Relations and the Census Subcommittee.

Auditors found that many agency's geospatial data holdings fail to comply with established standards or are not published through the clearinghouse, as required by OMB.

GAO's report recommends that OMB improve agency compliance with Circular A-16 by creating criteria for assessing the extent of interagency coordination. It also urges OMB officials to develop a better strategy for coordinating federal geospatial assets.

Representatives from OMB's Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs and Resource Management and from the Interior Department generally agreed with the report's recommendations. The panel's chairman, Rep. Adam Putnam (R-Fla.), floated the idea of a central geospatial information officer at OMB. But Karen Evans, the agency's administrator of e-government and information technology, said the position was not needed.

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