The road less traveled

Karen Siderelis maps out GIO role

One unofficial responsibility Karen Siderelis has at the U.S. Geological Survey is articulating an answer to those who inevitably ask, "So what's with the "G'?"

"That is a question I get asked very often," said Siderelis, USGS' GIO, or geographic information officer. "There's always the question, even inside USGS, of "What is GIO?' and "Why?'"

For Siderelis, who is the first person to hold that title at USGS — and as far as she knows, the first in government—the answer to the "why" is pretty simple: At USGS, it's as much about the data as the information technology supporting it.

"In USGS, where the mission is so focused on science and information there's almost more of a focus on the content of the information itself [than] on the technologies that underpin it," she said. So while she has the same IT management and planning responsibilities as her chief information officer counterparts under the Clinger-Cohen Act, in what she calls her "CIO-plus" role, Siderelis and her team are also in charge of integrating the scientific data USGS produces, maintaining its quality and managing its distribution to other government agencies and the public.

"The way we want to scope the office is broader than looking at the technology only," Siderelis said.

USGS, an Interior Department bureau, chose to emphasize "geographic" in the new office's name because across its four major scientific disciplines (biology, geology, mapping and water), and throughout just about almost every area of life, place plays a role, said USGS Deputy Director Kathy Clement.

"If you cut through the layers, everything does have a geographic base of some magnitude, so it can be a strong organizing principle," Clement said. "There are lots of ways to organize information; geography just seems to be the most powerful one."

Seven months into the job, Siderelis has identified some key priorities, including:

* Instituting stronger IT investment and management policies.

* Advancing USGS' Gateway to the Earth concept of integrating data collected across scientific disciplines for easy access by the public.

* Developing an enterprisewide geographic information system (GIS).

"My big agenda is enterprise," Siderelis said—developing the capacity to share data seamlessly throughout the bureau. "I think that's what the expectations are for the GIO."

Siderelis, born and raised in Rome, Ga., accepted a job with the government of North Carolina, a pioneer in the use of GIS, in 1976. She stayed with the state, serving as director of its Land Resources Information Service and then its Center for Geographic Information and Analysis, until joining USGS in November.

The challenge of heading up the new GIO office was too good to pass up, Siderelis said. "I just thought, "This is a job [that] has my name on it,' and it was just the next logical step for me. It was an opportunity for growth an offer that couldn't be refused."

Siderelis' strong GIS experience and her quiet strength make her a good fit for the job, Clement said. "When she speaks, people listen. She's very petite, but when she speaks she has something to say, and it's usually meaningful and on-target. She's going to be a great leader for us."

Outside the office, Siderelis said these days she enjoys any activity — gardening, hiking or simply lounging on the weekend—that she can share with her husband, Chris, a professor at North Carolina State University.

Meanwhile, Siderelis is focusing on laying out what the GIO office should look like and how it can contribute to USGS Director Charles Groat's "one bureau, one mission, one message" philosophy.

"Those are the things that I get energized about—thinking strategically, looking at big opportunities and ways for us to work together," Siderelis said. "And the bottom line is to make a difference."

MORE INFO

The Karen Siderelis file

Position: U.S. Geological Survey geographic information officer.

Previous job: Director of North Carolina's Center for Geographic Information

and Analysis.

Other resume highlights: Member of National Academy of Sciences' Mapping

Science Committee since 1994; board member of the National States Geographic

Information Council since 1993.

Education: Bachelor's degree in education (1973) and master's degree

in park management (1976) from the University of Georgia.

Quotation: "To work in an agency that really is purely a scientific

organization is new for me, and that's actually quite energizing."

NEXT STORY: New Louisiana CIO out already

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.