October 8, 1996 FGDC Coordination Meeting Summary

Persons Attending: Bruce Ambacher (Historical Data); Gerry Barton (Commerce); Andy Battin (EPA); Fred Broome (Cultural and Demographic); Penny Capps, Harold Smith, Kevin Backe (COE); Carolyn Davis (FEMA); Jim Harris (NASA); Fred Kaiser, Penny Harwood (Vegetation); Millington Lockwood (Bathymetric); Denise Perreca (Standards); Bruce Spear (Ground Transportation); John Spencer (Geodetic); Gale TeSelle (Earth Cover); Brad Thomas (International Boundaries); Charles Thomsen (HUD); Dan Webb (Cadastral); Bill Wilen (Wetlands); John Moeller, Mickey Kilpatrick, Bill Tolar, Kathy Covert (FGDC Secretariat).

Information Items

Summary Report of September Coordination Group meeting was approved. A remaining action item on the vegetation/wetland issue identified by NOAA is scheduled for discussion October 9. Mr. Moeller noted response to the request for participation in the NSDI sessions at GIS/LIS in Denver on November 20; Kathryn Clement (USGS) will moderate the NSDI panel discussion on technical issues and Denise Blakely (DOE/Sandia Lab) will serve as a panelist at the partnerships session.

Framework Update: Mr. Moeller reported on the September 9 meeting of the ad hoc group of representatives of the seven framework subcommittees. The group will try to determine how best to coordinate efforts of subcommittees and agencies to leverage framework development. Each subcommittee is developing a business plan to organize efforts at the Federal level. The business plans will be discussed at the October 31 meeting.

Mr. Moeller noted that FGDC and NSGIC are jointly funding a project to conduct a survey of ongoing State and local collection activities for framework categories of data. The project management group will develop a schedule of actions for the project. Periodic reports of progress will be required.

Clearinghouse/metadata standard implementation--ongoing discussion. Mr. Tolar noted that a primary requirement for developing the NSDI is the ability to share data; this mandates sharing metadata about data holdings. The focus for developing this capability is the interface between collections of data. The clearinghouse uses Standard Generalized Markup Language (SGML) to facilitate this exchange. The vendor community is being strongly encouraged to develop software tools that will create metadata that comply with the standard.

Coordination Group members expressed a need for specific instructions for preparing metadata products for the clearinghouse implementation of metadata, in addition to the interim guidelines for the encoding of FGDC metadata that were provided at the October 8 meeting. Action 1: Mr. Broome to provide to Secretariat a draft statement to document what is needed by Friday, October 11. This will be distributed to the Coordination Group for review, and will be discussed at the November 12 meeting. (Note: Mr. Broome provided the draft; however, clarification is needed before it is distributed.)

Action 2: FGDC Staff (Nebert) will develop instructions for the encoding of FGDC metadata for clearinghouse implementation of metadata and will provide a progress report at the November 12 Coordination Group meeting.

Mr. Spear voiced a concern that the metadata created for transportation data bases might not be easily made part of the clearinghouse because they were done on a word processor. Mr. Tolar noted that these issues were being discussed in the working group. For most implementations of metadata, as long as the contents of the metadata records are compliant--no change to elements and domains--it should not be difficult to create a template and write a report for SGML.

Ms. Capps commented that technical representatives for agencies and other organizations are working on these issues diligently and that the level of detail being discussed at this meeting is not appropriate for the Coordination Group. She suggested that members permit the clearinghouse working group to continue to develop the technical components through the process they have established.

EPA/Nature Conservancy Workshop. Mr. Battin proposed an item for the November Coordination Group meeting to discuss the handling of heritage data, the coordination of research on threatened and endangered species, and a report on a recent workshop. Mr. Moeller noted that this discussion could stimulate thinking on what role might be appropriate for the FGDC in coordinating environmental data beyond our thematic data categories, and also in determining the connection with the ecological units group.

EPA's locational data improvement project. Mr. Battin proposed a briefing at a future meeting on EPA's effort to build more precise locational information for all the sites they regulate. There may be some overlap or interface possible with other Federal organizations. The purpose of the briefing will be to provide information about EPA's activities in this area. The Coordination Group indicated interest in having the briefing, possibly in December.

Discussion Items

Standards Working Group

Integrated FGDC Feature Registry. Mr. Smith provided a brief overview of the proof-of-concept phase of the contractor-assisted project to develop an integrated FGDC feature registry. An integrated feature registry data base is a catalog of feature names and definitions, and lists attributes and values used for particular themes. The registry will serve as a single repository of feature names that will provide a means to identify conflicts among themes.

Ms. Perreca noted that the CD containing the proof-of-concept data will be distributed to the subcommittee chairs within two weeks. A written report on this phase will be distributed in late October. Action 1: Subcommittees are asked to review the data on the CD and in the report and to become familiar with the features register. The SWG will define and distribute decision criteria to guide the review and to provide a structure for the discussion at the December SWG and Coordination Group meetings. Action 2: Subcommittee members are asked to form recommendations on the feasibility of full development of the Integrated FGDC Feature Registry for a decision at the December Coordination Group meeting.

Status of standards: Ms. Perreca noted that nine standards proposals have been reviewed by the SWG; all but one have been approved pending suggested changes. A status sheet on the progress of the standards under development will be provided each month. The information is also available through the SWG homepage.

Mr. Lockwood commented that some of the standards were not being reviewed widely enough to surface all the potential problems. Mr. Smith suggested that part of the problem was a combination of finding adequate resources and having the right people available. Ms. Perreca noted that new procedures call for distribution of standards being reviewed to all known (88) State councils in order to get wider review.

Mr. Moeller asked that Coordination Group members be prepared to discuss what is meant by the proposed "preliminary" standard designation at the next meeting. This designation is being considered for the initial release of the Cadastral standard.

Discussion at Steering Committee meeting on Sept. 11

State Councils: Mr. Moeller reported that the Steering Committee requests that the Coordination Group develop a strategy to respond to issues raised by the State councils. The Coordination Group suggested that the Secretariat devise a plan that would provide continuity and tracking through the Secretariat and would involve members of the Coordination Group as appropriate for the issues being considered. Ms. Harwood suggested that various agencies be called upon to participate in an ad hoc group depending on the issues being addressed. Action: Ms. Covert to devise a general approach for responding to issues raised by cooperating State councils. Issues identified by Utah, Florida, and Minnesota will be used as a starting point.

Agencies' Implementation of NSDI Strategy: Mr. Moeller noted that input to the strategy was being solicited through many avenues, such as with NACO representatives, OGC, Mapping Science Committee, University Consortium for Geographic Information Sciences, ASPRS, ACSM, the FGDC mailing list, the FGDC agency processes, etc. The document is also available through the FGDC website.

An open meeting will be held in Chicago on November 7-8 to review the comments and gain additional input. Mr. Barton noted that Commerce was using the strategy review process as an educational tool to familiarize their personnel with the NSDI. Mr. Moeller noted that both Agriculture and Commerce had indicated an intention to tailor their agency tactical implementation plans around the strategy document. Agencies also might wish to tie implementation strategies to requirements under the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA). Further discussion of agency plans is scheduled for the December Steering Committee meeting, with presentations by agency representatives.

A draft letter to agency representatives requesting that they conduct appropriate review of the strategy document within their agencies was included in today's handout package. Action: Coordination Group members were asked to review the letter and the attached outline (template) for NSDI implementation and provide comments to Mickey Kilpatrick by Friday, October 11. (Note: The letter and outline were finalized and faxed to the Steering Committee on October 15.)

Hammer Award -- Recognizing participants within agencies: Information about the Hammer Award and the basis for FGDC award were included in the handouts. Action: Coordination Group members to assist Steering Committee members in recognizing the contributions of agency personnel to FGDC (such as participation in standards activities and other subcommittee and working group activities).

Mr. TeSelle noted that Vice President Gore had been involved in the research activities of sustainable development, and that many of the recommendations from that activity could affect the operational responsibilities of the FGDC. Mr. TeSelle suggested that we attempt to inform Vice President Gore of the contributions of FGDC. Mr. Moeller noted that it might be appropriate to bring this topic to the attention of the Steering Committee for their consideration. Technology advances and environmental issues could well be important initiatives in a second Clinton-Gore administration.

National States Geographic Information Councils (NSGIC)

Mr. Moeller noted that discussions between FGDC and NSGIC representatives in conjunction with the NSGIC annual meeting in Tucson, Arizona, were productive in building a stronger relationship. The NSGIC membership adopted several resolutions that may affect the way the two organizations work together. These will be provided to FGDC Steering Committee and the Coordination Group when they are received in final form.