January 23, 1996 FGDC Coordination Meeting Summary


Gerry Barton, (NOAA); Fred Broome, Leslie Godwin (Cultural and Demographic); Richard Hogan (Standards); Millington Lockwood (Bathymetric); Jim Plasker (Base Cartographic); Charles Roswell, Penny Capps (Defense); Tim Smith (Water); John Spencer (Geodetic); John Stewart (DOE); Gale TeSelle (Soils); Brad Thomas (International Boundaries); Kelly Wack (Ground Transportation); Dan Webb (Cadastral); Gene Thorley (Chair); Nancy Tosta, John Moeller, Mickey Kilpatrick (FGDC).

Information Items:

Introductions included Tim Smith, USGS, who replaced Ken Lanfear as Chair of the Spatial Water Data Subcommittee.

The report for the October Coordination Group meeting was approved. John Moeller summarized the efforts of the ad hoc partnerships working group related to the October action item that tasked the group to develop guidelines and recommendations for partnership activities and outreach to non-Federal sectors. A survey to solicit ideas was developed by the group following their November meeting; the survey is being pretested by a few State councils in preparation for distribution by the National States Geographic Information Councils to their member organizations.

Newsletter input

Subcommittees, working groups, and agencies were invited to submit material for the February FGDC Newsletter. Subcommittees and working groups were encouraged to highlight specific approaches for encouraging non-Federal participation in their activities. Agencies were invited to submit articles about NSDI partnerships or other activities that might be of interest to newsletter readers.


    Subcommittee and working group chairs and agency representatives are requested to provide input to Mickey Kilpatrick by February 9.

Clearinghouse document

The Clearinghouse Working Group has approved a draft document entitled, "What does it mean to be a Clearinghouse Node?" The document spells out many previously implicit assumptions about the Clearinghouse activity. Ms. Tosta noted that, as agencies and other data holders become more competent in use of the Internet and in documenting data, they will be better able to implement technical qualifications required to be considered a Clearinghouse node; this document is part of the effort to establish a minimum configuration and will ultimately serve as a blueprint for anyone who is establishing a Clearinghouse node. The need for a set of criteria that define aspects such as the minimum level of search capability and availability of metadata have also surfaced in the CCAP process. The document is available for access online at: http://nsdi.usgs.gov/NSDI/nsdinode.html


    Coordination Group members were asked to review the document and provide comments to Doug Nebert at ddnebert@usgs.gov (The target date for this response was February 7, however, comments will be accepted until February 20).

Competitive Cooperative Agreements Program

Reviewers are needed for CCAP proposals. Those who have participated in the past have commented that reviewing proposals is a valuable learning experience and provides insight into the level of interest and expertise that is being developed around the country.


    Coordination Group members are asked to provide names of proposal reviewers to Bruce McKenzie by February 16 at telephone 703/648-5740; E-mail bmckenzi@usgs.gov

EO Report of Progress/Plans for 1996

Subcommittees and working groups that have not completed responses for 1995 accomplishments, 1996 work plan, and member list as indicated on the handout were requested to provide the missing information by February 2. Agencies were also encouraged to provide supplementary information on agency activities to update the draft that was distributed at the October 25 Coordination Group meeting.

Mapping Science Committee contract

Mr. Moeller noted that the Mapping Science Committee had requested funding support of $285K from Federal agencies for the current year. This would cover costs for core activities and for the futures workshop that has been rescheduled to April 24-25. Planned commitments of funding to date total $243K (DMA, $68K; Census, $20K; NOAA, $20K; DOT, $20K; BLM, $20K; NRCS, $15K; USGS, $80K). DMA, Census, and NRCS have completed transfer of funds; other agencies have not. NOAA and DOT are interested in transferring funds to the USGS for subsequent transfer to MSC; Mr. Moeller will investigate how this might be handled. The current budget situation is affecting some agencies' abilities to proceed with planned funding transfers.

FGDC Steering Committee meeting (planned Feb 6, now rescheduled to Feb 21)

Ms. Tosta stated that there is considerable interest on the part of agency leaders and Secretary Babbitt in learning about specific partnership efforts for which the concepts of NSDI appear to be working. At the February FGDC meeting, the agenda will include presentations about some of these projects. The announcement for the meeting included a call for examples; the intention is to feature projects that involve Federal agencies working with State or local organizations to solve watershed or ecosystem or other regional or community problems. The ideal examples would involve partners sharing data, and would include a process for common maintenance of the data. It is important to identify what types of arrangements are working and the factors that contribute to success; it is also important to identify impediments, and where attempts have not been successful to understand why they have not worked.

Mr. Lockwood suggested that some type of recognition be given to successful NSDI partnership projects, to leverage their accomplishments and those agencies involved with positive publicity for NSDI. Ms. Tosta stated that the Secretary had discussed finding appropriate ways to recognize successful NSDI partnership efforts, but that any such awards would focus on State or local cooperators rather than on Federal agencies.

Ms. Tosta noted that Secretary Babbitt has expressed a desire to go forward with the letter to encourage international "nsdi" efforts--an item that was discussed and tabled at the September FGDC meeting. The announcement for the February FGDC meeting included a call for the names of appropriate international contacts who are leaders in their own countries and who are making efforts to build "nsdi-type" infrastructures. Distribution of the letter is expected to be somewhat limited. The intent is to encourage a dialogue that may result in an issue paper on concerns that need to be addressed globally.

Ms. Tosta noted that the declassification of data also might be a topic for the February Steering Committee meeting (depending on the length of the NSDI partnership examples discussion) from the perspective of what role, if any, the FGDC might play in that process.

Mr. Thorley suggested that the Coordination Group be more proactive in building agendas for Steering Committee meetings. Ms. Tosta requested that Coordination Group members bring issues or topics they think appropriate for Steering Committee consideration to the attention of the Secretariat for discussion/clarification by the Coordination Group, as part of a process to build effective agendas for Steering Committee meetings.

Ms. Capps commented that we might want to revisit the issue of how to use the FGDC to build NSDI support in our budgets. Ms. Tosta noted that some Steering Committee members, including the Chair, are more comfortable with the FGDC keeping a low profile. FGDC might concentrate efforts and resources on working with State Councils and others to build NSDI. Mr. TeSelle stated that, in USDA, the emphasis is shifting to stronger budget support for NSDI types of activities; for example, digital orthophotography and digital soils data. The Secretary of Agriculture seems interested in this activity; partnerships with States and other agencies, and the connection to NSDI and FGDC are perceived as very positive pressures for this higher profile for NSDI initiatives at USDA. Ms. Tosta noted that agency representatives who feel strongly that this topic should be revisited may wish to talk with their Steering Committee representative about raising the issue at a Steering Committee meeting.

Discussion Items

State Council Requests for FGDC Recognition as Cooperating Groups

The FGDC Secretariat reviewed materials submitted by Alaska, Arizona, and Minnesota councils and developed recommendations (handout) to be considered by the Coordination Group. Mr. Broome commented that, with regard to the Alaska council, it appeared from the wording of the recommendation that FGDC approval of their request for recognition was contingent on their rotating the chairmanship. Ms. Tosta stated that the intention was to recommend approval, and that chair rotation was a suggestion for how they might broaden participation. Mr. Thorley suggested that to avoid the appearance of dictating conditions to councils, the FGDC might provide these kinds of suggestions outside official correspondence. The Coordination Group approved the requests for recognition as FGDC cooperating groups for the State councils for Alaska, Arizona, and Minnesota.

GeoData Partnerships Forum at 96 URISA Conference

Ms. Tosta solicited ideas for the URISA conference, specifically for the Wednesday (July 31) NSDI Partnerships and Data Sharing sessions. Formats other than the standard presentation are encouraged--panels or other interactive approaches, e.g., skits, would be appropriate. Information on proposed sessions is needed for the preliminary program, and should include who will be leading/moderating the session, if that is known. The subjects (e.g., "FGDC Standards Development") shown on the handout may be changed as needed, or new ones may be added. Responses to Kathy Covert (703) 648-5755 were requested by Thursday, January 25.

Standards Working Group Charter and Reference Model

The revised SWG charter was approved without additional changes.

Mr. Hogan noted that the first three sections of the Standards Reference Model are basically complete, but later sections need additional material. The intention is to establish the first three sections of the model as a preliminary guide that will remain stable for about a year, and then be reevaluated and updated as needed. These sections include the 20-step process and define how the SWG will function. The SWG would like feedback from the Coordination Group on these sections. The later sections will be added as they are completed.

Mr. Lockwood commended the SWG for producing the Standards Reference Model and noted that it will be extremely valuable to all the FGDC groups involved in standards development. He also noted that a useful addition would be a visual representation of the standards process and where the feedback loops are in the process. Note: At a meeting held on January 24, the SWG substantially revised the Reference Model based on comments received from FGDC members. A revised version will be distributed to the Coordination Group before the February 13 Coordination Group meeting. At the meeting, a new due date for review comments will be established. (This postpones the date for Coordination Group review that was discussed at the January 23 Coordination Group meeting.)

ISO Metadata Standard

Mr. Hogan reported on the December meeting of the International Standards Organization in Norway. The FGDC Metadata Standard was used as a base for most of the reference documents for metadata standards offered by various countries to be considered for an international metadata standard. The variations were mainly as subsets or as extensions or both; strategy for the international standard will probably be to define a set of core elements. The first draft of the standard is due in March, and will be written by Mr. Danko of DMA and Mr. Tolar of the FGDC Secretariat. The FGDC, through a subgroup of the SWG, will have an opportunity to participate in the review process. The intention is to use Internet discussion groups to reduce the need for meetings. The ISO changes to the FGDC Metadata Standard are expected to be primarily concerned with structure rather than content.

Mr. Barton asked for a clarification of the relationships among the various standards organizations. Mr. Hogan stated that all play a role in the development of an enterprise such as GIS; the significant differences are in their sources of authority. A Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) is congressionally mandated for Federal agencies. For example, FIPS 173 requires that all large federally procured spatial data systems accommodate SDTS. FGDC standards derive their authority from Executive Order, and thus can have broader authority than FIPS alone. American National Standards (ANS) are industry based and have no government regulatory authority; however, many standards developed by the FGDC will be put forward for adoption as an ANS standard or, in the global arena, as an ISO standard.

Proposed Subcommittee Charter Revisions

Ms. Godwin noted that the Subcommittee for Cultural and Demographic Data charter revisions expand the presentation of the authorities provided by agencies and restate the responsibility of the SCDD. Mr. Broome commented that he would welcome assistance in the wording of an acknowledgment that other thematic areas deal with some of the issues and data categories more comprehensively than does the SCDD. Coordination Group members were asked to review the proposed revisions (handout 8) and respond to Leslie Godwin, fax (301) 457-4710, by Tuesday, February 6.

Ms. Wack stated that the Subcommittee for Ground Transportation charter revisions reflect a change of the lead agency (from FHWA to BTS) and improve consistency in terminology. Coordination Group members were asked to review the revised charter (handout 9) and provide comments to Bruce Spear, fax (202) 366-3640, by Tuesday, February 6.

Mr. Thorley recalled the process that the FGDC Coordination Group involved itself in during its formative months to develop consistent wording for subcommittee charters. The resulting consensus document was then used as a template to construct each subcommittee charter. Mr. Thorley noted that alterations to individual charters may result in changes to that consensus document.

Mr. Lockwood questioned why ground transportation was the only category included in the transportation data theme. Mr. Thorley responded that, when Circular A-16 was being redrawn, DOT had not been an active participant in the Federal Interagency Coordinating Committee for Digital Cartography (FICCDC), and the decision was to start with just ground transportation. An A-16 provision, however, allows addition of other categories of data. The agency responsible for any theme may petition the FGDC to add a category of data; if the FGDC agrees, the request is forwarded to OMB, who established the authority for agency responsibility.

1996 Activities/Coordination Group Calendar

Ms. Tosta noted that Coordination Group members generally reflect either agency interests or thematic interests, and asked members to comment on whether this is the best blend for ensuring that all significant agency viewpoints are represented, or whether there might be more appropriate methods for determining Coordination Group membership. Ms. Tosta noted that suggestions for specific activities for the Coordination Group were also welcome. Mr. Lockwood commented that, in spite of the strange mix of programmatic, staff, and theme responsibilities represented in the group, we were definitely making progress in building NSDI and things seem to be working. He suggested that a regular meeting schedule and annoted agendas distributed in advance were helpful. There seemed to be consensus that change in the structure of Coordination Group representation was not needed at this time.

The Coordination Group decided to adopt a regular schedule of half-day meetings to be held on the second Tuesday morning of each month, with Standards Working Group meetings normally scheduled in the afternoon of the same day. Meetings will be held in the downtown area near Metro stops whenever possible. Please reserve the following dates on your calendar:

    April 9, May 14, June 11, July 9, Aug 13, Sept 10, Oct 8, Nov 5, Dec 10