2023 FGDC Retrospective by Executive Director Joshua Delmonico


I wanted to take this opportunity to check-in with you, look back at 2023 and highlight some of the key accomplishments of the year. My focus continues to be on our FGDC priorities - the NSDI Strategic Plan, Standards, GeoPlatform, Governance and Administration Priorities. I have been spending my time engaging with stakeholders, increasing transparency, meeting GDA requirements, continuing to improve FGDC OS operations, and visioning for the NSDI all while meeting the mission of the FDGC OS to provide administrative support, strategic planning, and technical support to the FGDC. I regularly meet with international partners and stakeholders from our Federal community as well as representatives from State, Tribal, and Local Government, academic, non-profit and the private sector.

Over the next year, I will continue to focus on outreach and engagement with FGDC members and our domestic and international partners, to strengthen our ties with organizations like NSGIC, and look for opportunities to collaborate with other organizations and stakeholders to further the NSDI and meet the requirements of the GDA. I welcome any feedback on how we can improve FGDC operations. 

Office of the Secretariat – 2023 was a year of change for the Office of the Secretariat (FGDC OS). In July, I was officially selected to become the FGDC Executive Director. Jenn Harlan came on detail as the FGDC budget analyst replacing Sarah Davis, who moved onto a new role within USGS. Jess Miller also joined us on detail from NGA helping the FGDC with standards and strategic planning. In June, Roxanne Lamb began a detail away from the FGDC as a Program Coordinator for the Environmental Justice USGS's Office of Diversity and Equal Opportunity. For most of last year, Dierdre Bevington-Attardi was on detail from U.S. Census as the acting NGDA Portfolio Coordinator. Finally, John Mahoney retired at the end of December after 18 of years as Senior Policy Advisor of the FGDC. John's institutional knowledge of all things FGDC policy and NGAC will be missed. We hope to fill many of these positions permanently in the new year. I thank everyone for their hard work, dedication, and support to the FGDC over the past year. We couldn't have done it without you! 

Steering Committee – Tanya Trujillo, former FGDC Chair, moved on from her role at DOI in July. Annalise Blum, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Water and Science, oversaw FGDC matters until Mike Brain, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Water and Science, was appointed as the new FGDC Chair. We thank both Ms. Trujillo and Ms. Blum for their support of FGDC matters throughout the year. We will be welcoming Chairperson Brain at the upcoming Steering Committee meeting.

The Steering Committee held two official meetings last year and a productive brainstorming meeting regarding the draft NSDI Strategic Plan. The Steering Committee also approved the following last year: the NGDA Theme Strategic Plan Template, the FY2022 GDA Annual Reporting Templates, the FY2022 GDA Summary Report, the 2023 GDA Report to Congress, the definition of "Federal-wide geospatial data assets", and updates to the NGDA Portfolio.

Executive Committee – The Executive Committee continues to meet monthly to provide strategic leadership and recommendations to the FGDC Chair and its members. The Executive Committee welcomed a new co-chair, Julie Saville of NGA, in July. Updates regarding the five FGDC priorities are below. 

Geospatial Standards: The Steering Committee approved updated standards language for the FGDC website that will help inform agencies during the FY2024 GDA audit process. This language will be posted on the FGDC website once approved by the Steering Committee. The standards task team is developing a new process for the review and adoption of FGDC standards. Over the course of last year, the task team has had special presentations from multiple FGDC member agencies and standards bodies on their standards development life cycle in order to help guide the development of a future FGDC standards process.

Governance: The FGDC OS concluded an analysis of the past and current governance structures. The analysis reviewed all FGDC subcommittees and working groups. The Executive Committee concurred with the FGDC OS' analysis that four subcommittees and working groups be retired due to inactivity. The Executive Committee will make this recommendation to the Steering Committee to officially retire those groups.. Additional governance analysis will need to be completed once A-16 is released to develop a new governance structure that accommodates both A-16 and the GDA requirements.

GeoPlatform: The GeoPlatform task team has undertaken a number of objectives to review how the GeoPlatform currently fulfills the GDA requirements and to analyze the future direction of the GeoPlatform. The Managing Partner and the FGDC OS are scheduling a GeoPlatform Summit for early CY 2024, for the GeoPlatform funding agencies to define the path forward for the GeoPlatform.

NSDI Strategic Plan: The NSDI task team held a number of listening sessions over the course of last year to gain knowledge on what the goals of the future NSDI Strategic Plan should include. These listening sessions included Federal partners, NGAC, industry and non-Federal partners to gain a more robust perspective of the NSDI. The current draft strategic plan closely aligns to the UNGGIM Integrated Geospatial Information Framework (UN-IGIF). The Steering Committee and NGAC received the draft NSDI Strategic Plan in December for review and comment. The NSDI task team is adjudicating these comments and working to submit the draft for public review in the March timeframe. The final plan is tentatively scheduled to be reviewed and approved by the FGDC Steering Committee in the July 2024 timeframe.

Advancing the Administration's Priorities: FGDC members are highly active in various projects and programs throughout the Federal government that support President Biden's Administration priorities. Specific examples of supporting projects include NOAA's Climate Resilience Information System (CRIS) and Climate Mapping for Resilience and Adaptation (CMRA) portal and the FGDC Climate Core Team's ongoing collaboration, as well as the FGDC's support for the FAIRness Project. The FAIRness Project is a joint project between the Chief Data Officers Council (CDOC) and Federal Committee on Statistical Methodology, that Tod Dabolt (DOI SAOGI and Chief Data Officer) is co-leading for the CDOC. The FAIRness Project aims to look at existing metadata under various rubrics and to improve the end user's ability to find data while lowering the burden on the agencies to provide this data.

OMB Circular A-16 – FGDC OS and OMB continued developing and revising Circular A-16. Next Steps: OMB to finalize review of the draft of Circular A-16 and release for public comment and agency review. 

FY2024 GDA Audits – In July, the FGDC OS met with members of the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency's (CIGIE) audit subcommittee to discuss the FY2024 GDA audits. FGDC OS presented the FGDC priorities, concerns regarding GDA standards, and how the forthcoming OMB Circular A-16 could affect the audits. FGDC OS hopes to continue an open dialogue with CIGIE as the audits kick off. 

GeoPlatform – I want to thank all of the GeoPlatform funding agencies for the hard work it took to meet the short suspense for GeoPlatform funding this year. We were successful in meeting the deadlines to keep the GeoPlatform contract funded and the GeoPlatform operational. Thank you for that! We also revised the Interagency Agreements to align with the Geospatial Data Act and (as discussed above) are working to host a GeoPlatform summit in 2024 to inform the future direction of the GeoPlatform. The National Geospatial Advisory Committee is undertaking an evaluation of the GeoPlatform which will also help to inform the future of the GeoPlatform. 

GDA Annual Reports – The FY2022 GDA covered agency and lead covered agency reporting processes were finalized in June. The 2023 GDA Report to Congress, which was also approved by the Steering Committee in June, is currently moving throughout the DOI/OMB approval process. The NGDA theme lead community finalized a draft NGDA Theme Strategic Plan template which was also approved by the Steering Committee in June. This draft template will help the NGDA themes develop consistent three-year strategic plans in accordance with Section USC 43 Sec 2805(b)(3) of the GDA. Final, agency-approved NGDA Theme Strategic Plans are due to the FGDC by September 30, 2024.

NGDA Portfolio updates - On September 29, the Steering Committee approved seven NGDA dataset changes within the following themes: cadastre, governmental units, and administrative statistical boundaries, and real property. The current NGDA portfolio has 172 datasets managed across 18 themes, 12 agencies and 21 sub-agencies. Additional change proposals are in development for action in the new year. 

NGAC Update: The National Geospatial Advisory Committee (NGAC) welcomed fourteen new members and reappointments last year. The NGAC held three public meetings during 2023, including two in-person meetings, and a series of sessions on the upcoming draft NSDI Strategic Plan. NGAC also established a new set of subcommittees to focus on key issues and provide advice and recommendations on FGDC priorities. The NGAC subcommittees are the Landsat Advisory Group, 3DEP Subcommittee, GDA Subcommittee, NSDI Subcommittee, and the FAIR Data Subcommittee. The NGAC adopted comments on the FY 2022 FGDC GDA Annual Report Summary, and two papers: an "Evaluation of GDA Implementation" and the "NGAC Assessment of the 3D Elevation Program." The NGAC also approved a resolution endorsing the USGS "The 3D National Topography Model Call for Action Part 2: Next Generation of the 3D Elevation Program" and encouraged the USGS to move forward with the activities outlined in the plan. The NGAC is continuing work on GDA Reporting and Implementation, the Landsat Advisory Group – LAG Task 1 addressing "Ideas for National Land Imaging (NLI) 'Next' Products", and LAG Task 2 addressing "Interagency Operational Efficiencies." 

Please reach out if you have any questions or ideas on how we can continue to improve the FGDC or further the NSDI and deliver value to the Nation.

Thank you,