USGS hires Grant Thornton to advance Geospatial LOB

The Interior Department’s U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has awarded Grant Thornton a two-year contract to provide program management expertise to the agency's Geospatial Line of Business consolidation effort.

Under the $1.7 million contract, awarded Sept. 28, Grant Thornton will assist USGS in planning, organizing and implementing numerous tasks associated with the LOB, said Scott Cameron, a director at the company and a former deputy assistant secretary at Interior.

“We started working with them on a performance management plan which lays out the key tasks and metrics for the LOB in 2008 and 2009,” Cameron said. “Once we get the performance management plan in good shape, we also need to work on a communications plan for the initiative and help USGS finalize its fiscal 2009 business case.”

Cameron said USGS wants to get started quickly on what he called 10 large-scale tasks currently under consideration for the LOB.

The Geospatial LOB is one of nine initiatives intended to standardize and share information more easily. Under the Geospatial project, Interior is leading an interagency team to develop standards to make geospatial data easier to find across government and in the private sector. It also will create a more coordinated approach to producing, maintaining and using geospatial data and services, according to the Office of Management and Budget’s e-government Web site.

USGS issued a request for quotes in May through the General Services Administration’s Mission Oriented Business Integrated Services schedule. The agency asked for vendors to provide 16 program management support services, including project management office support, quarterly and ad hoc reports for the Office of Management and Budget, 2009 business case and funding strategy, performance management plan, and business requirements strategy and plan.

The RFQ also asks vendors to develop a geospatial business architecture to help agencies understand and implement a standard geospatial business model, value chains for data and services, and other geospatial components.

Cameron said the LOB will build on a foundation created by Interior, USGS and other federal agencies in the past few years.

One of the initiative’s biggest challenges will be to improve interagency coordination of all things geospatial.

“This is challenging because spending is rather diffuse across a very large government,” Cameron said. “There are not a lot of chief information officers who are aware of and can control geospatial spending. There is a long history of passionate interest by agencies to improve geospatial coordination and that will help make all of our jobs easier, but it still is not easy.”

Cameron said the LOB will not use the more standard shared-services model. The goal is for every agency to own its geospatial data but make it accessible through standards and Web services.

The initiative also will complete a budget data analysis on governmentwide geospatial investments, according to OMB’s Web site.

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