May 4, 2004 FGDC Coordination Meeting Summary

Host: Bob Harding, GSA


Ivan DeLoatch, FGDC
Alison Kiernan, FGDC
Jim Plasker, ASPRS
Kevin Neimond, NACo
Ingrid Milton, USDA/NRCS
Fred Miller, GSA
John Clark, GSA
Rebecca Martino, GSA
Brett Abrams, NARA
Mir Ali, GSA
Chris Clarke, NRCS/USDA
Leslie Weiner-Leandro, DHS
Brian Cox, GSA/PBS
Eddie Pickle, IONIC
Kim Owens, NOAA
Sam Bacharach, OGC
Bill Burgess, NSGIC
John Moeller, Northrop Grumman TASC
Sandra Downie, GSA
Matthew Shappard, BTS/USDOT
Tricia Gibbons, LEAD Alliance
Rob Dollison, GOS
Brad Beach, NGA
Susan Hargrove, DOE
Jochen Albrecht, UCGIS
John Baker, RAND
Billy Tolar, USGS/National Atlas
Betsy Kanalley, USDA/FS
Milo Robinson, FGDC
Myra Bambacus, NASA
Lee R. Warren, NGA
Carol Brandt, USDOT
Nancy Blyler, USACE
Betty O'Connor, GSA PBS
Hank Garie, GOS
Anne Frondorf, USGS
Chuck Croner, CDC/HHS
Julie Maitra, FGDC
Tim Trainor, Census
Brenda Smith, EPA
Kay McNew, PBS GSA
Beth Lachman, RAND

On the Phone:
Alan Voss, TVA

RAND "Mapping the Risks" Report - Beth Lachman & John Baker, RAND

USGS and NGA (formerly NIMA) sponsored the RAND report "Mapping the Risks: Assessing the Homeland Security Implications of Publicly Available Geospatial Information". The RAND researchers used a supply and demand approach to review non-classified information publicly available from U.S. federal sources and determine its usefulness to terrorists planning an attack our critical infrastructure. The study provides an analytical process to identify and evaluate potentially sensitive geospatial information. The report found that although geospatial data could be helpful in finding a site for an attack, the attackers would need much more detailed data than is typically publicly accessible to actually carry out the attack. Information needed by terrorists that is not generally publicly accessible includes: the target's internal features, potential vulnerabilities, and security practices. This essential information would instead be gathered from textbooks, trade journals, insiders and direct observation.

The RAND study found that less than 1% of Federal data sets are unique and 94% of the data sets would not be useful to terrorists. The few federal datasets with detailed data that could be useful to terrorists were all removed from the Internet shortly after September 11. (These sensitive sites contained DOI dam information, DOT information, pipeline information, and Nuclear Regulatory Commission information). The study found that the federal government needs a comprehensive model to identify sensitive geospatial information, as well as an explicit methodology to justify decisions affecting public access to geospatial information. The study states that federal government should take the lead in this effort - with NGA and USGS playing a part in helping DHS, OMB and other organizations develop guidelines for identifying sensitive geospatial information. The study provides an analytical process to identify and evaluate potentially sensitive geospatial information.

Please view the summary and full report at:

Comment: As resolution is getting better, the data will become more accurate, and more sensitive. We need a consistent analytic process to evaluate such data and provide accountability. The FGDC Homeland Security Working Group and RAND are both looking at the risks, uniqueness and benefits of dissemination.

Comment: FGDC could provide guidance in this analytic process. At the ACSM conference, a spatial data provider said they were erring on the side of caution.

We need to look at specific critical infrastructure types to provide more specific guidelines and examples.

Comment: RAND did a great job on this report but instead of saying "security costs and society benefits" we should say "society costs and benefits".

Q: Are other similar efforts occurring in the non-geospatial arena?
A: RAND hasn't heard of a similar study - that is why the report is getting so much attention. The broad geospatial definition can be applied to many other areas.

The Homeland Security Working Group is also working on Guidelines for Providing Appropriate Access to Geospatial Data in Response to Security Concerns. The 13 page guidelines are available at

Action: Prior to June 2, please send your comments on the Homeland Security Working Group's guidelines (available at to

Clear Vision of the NSDI - TNM, GOS, FGDC - Ivan Deloatch, FGDC

To clarify the difference between The National Map (TNM), Geospatial One-Stop (GOS), and the FGDC:

  • FGDC leads the development of policies, standards, and training to support the NSDI and assists in coordination
  • GOS deals with data discovery and access - is the gateway for discovery
  • TNM has a focus on products with a seamless topographic base, content, and framework data layers.

Comment: We need a real world example to show how we provide a leadership capability for the public - whether through data, portal or training opportunities.

We will try to incorporate success stories into the message.

Q: Will there be a concerted effort to hone the message and get it out to the States, locals and Federal field people?
A: Yes, we will refine our message through the FGDC Communications Strategy.

Comment: The National Map should integrate the data sets listed in Circular A-16. The term "topographic data" creates inconsistency. Also - data providers won't be the integrators, so the Federal government is going to need to take the integrating role.

FGDC Future Directions Goals/Activities - Tricia Gibbons, Lead Alliance

The Coordination Group reviewed the Goals to Focus a Geospatial Strategy for the Nation and provided comments to Tricia. The Coordination Group members volunteered to review the Draft Action Plans and Draft Report and would send their comments to Tricia.

Tricia will send the draft report to the Coordination Group members and would like to receive their comments by 5/21. The final revisions will be shown to the group at the 6/8 Coordination Group 6/15 meeting.

Next Coordination Group meeting:

June 8, 2003
Hosted by the Multi-Sector Crisis Management Consortium ( in Arlington, VA.
Directions and agenda will be forwarded at the end of May.