OMB directs agencies to name senior geospatial official

The Office of Management and Budget is directing major agencies to designate within 45 days a senior agency official for geospatial information, Clay Johnson, OMB deputy director for management, said in a memo dated today and obtained by GCN.

Agencies need to take more advantage of federal geospatial investments, Johnson said. Agencies, however, have made progress in recent years at coordinating geospatial capabilities across the federal space and with state and local governments.

“Through further coordination, we will maximize our buying and maintaining of geospatial investments instead of independently investing in potentially duplicative and costly data and capabilities,” Johnson said.

The senior official will oversee and coordinate the agency’s implementation of geospatial-related requirements, policies and activities, although other agency components may perform the geospatial tasks.

The administration in the past similarly sought a senior agency official to be responsible for coordinating privacy activities such as privacy impact statements. OMB published a memo in February 2005 requesting that major agencies name a senior agency for privacy.

Geospatial information, including maps, satellite imagery, and census and housing data, is used for national security, law enforcement and the environment. CIOs may already be performing this role, or a senior official at the assistant secretary or equivalent level may be named.

Agencies responsible for spatial electronic records and topic coordinates are members of the Federal Geographic Data Committee under OMB Circular A-16, Coordination of Geographic Information and Related Spatial Data Activities. The senior agency geospatial official will serve on the committee’s board.

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