June 2004 Steering Committee Meeting Minutes

FGDC Steering Meeting Summary
June 15, 2004

Chair: J. Steven Griles, DOI
Co-Chair: Karen Evans, OMB


Steering Committee Representatives:

Mack Grey, USDA/NRCS
Tony LaVoi for Margaret Davidson, DOC/NOAA
Donald Basham, DOD/USACE
H. Gregory Smith, DOD/NGA
Margaret O'Brien, DOE
Charles M. Croner, HHS
John Crowe for Ryan Cast, DHS
Jon Sperling, HUD
Tom Weimer, DOI
William Wood, State
William J. Chang, DOT
Brenda Smith, EPA
John Hebert, LOC
Ron Birk, NASA
Kenneth Thibodeau, NARA
Tom Spence for Margaret Leinen, NSF
Alan Voss, TVA

Coordination Group and Others:

Ivan DeLoatch, FGDC
Alison Kiernan, FGDC
Maurice Maubach, USDA/NRCS
Jason Freihage, OMB
Charles Challstrom, DOC/NGS
Scott Cameron, DOI
W. Val Oveson, CIO State of Utah
Kamela White, OMB
Eric Anderson, ICMA
Bob Samborski, GITA
Dave DiSera, GITA
Peter Gomez, GITA
Bert Jarreau, NACo
Gene Trobia, NSGIC
Zsolt Nagy, NSGIC
Shelby Johnson, NSGIC
Jeffrey Burnett, OGC
Fred Corle, STIA
Kevin Moran, WGA
Dennis Goreham, WGA
Pat Cummens, ESRI
Gov. Jim Geringer, ESRI
Vicki DeFries, DC Gov
Matthew Gilmore, DC Gov
Barb Ryan, USGS
Michael Domaratz, USGS
Charlie Challstrom, NOAA
Nancy Blyler, USACE
Gordon Errington, DOE
David Morehouse, DOE
Jason G. Racette, BLM
Donald Draper Campbell, FCC
Bill Burgess, NSGIC
Milo Robinson, FGDC
Dan Parr, URISA
Lesley Ogrosky, FGDC
Nelson Hernandez, USFS
Betsy Kanalley, USFS
Julie Maitra, FGDC
Bonnie Gallahan, FGDC/GOS
Tricia Gibbons, LEAD Alliance
Myra Bambacus, NASA
Lee R. Warren, NGA
John O. Clark, GSA
Bob Harding, GSA
Betty O'Connor, GSA PBS
Travis Hardy, ESRI
Beth Lachman, RAND
Anne Frondorf, USGS
Ohsung Kwon, FGDC
Scott McAfee, DHS/FEMA
Leslie Wollack, GOS
Eddie Pickle, IONIC
Christine Clarke, USDA/NRCS
Megan Stubbs, USDA/NRCS
Tim Trainor, Census
Robert M Dollison, GOS
Doug Nebert, FGDC
Douglas Haywood, DOI/BLM
Kevin Neimond, NACo
Paul Cutler, NRC
Carol Brandt, USDOT/BTS

Welcome and Introductions - J. Steven Griles, DOI

Chair J. Steven Griles, Deputy Secretary of the Interior, welcomed the Steering Committee and introduced Vice-Chair Karen Evans, OMB. The Deputy Secretary thanked the state, local, and private sector entities for their participation. He noted the large variety of interest in geospatial data that was represented in the room.

Karen Evans, Administrator, Electronic Government and Information Technology in the Office of Management and Budget stated that she was pleased to be Vice Chair of the FGDC Steering Committee. She noted that the FGDC provides strong leadership for OMB Circular A-16. Ms. Evans mentioned the upcoming hearing for the Subcommittee on Technology, Information Policy, Intergovernmental Relations, and the Census entitled, "Geospatial Information: Are We Headed in the Right Direction or Are We Lost?" She stated that during her testimony she planned to highlight the opportunities and the work of the FGDC and Geospatial One-Stop (GOS).

Geospatial One-Stop Portal Demonstrations - Hank Garie, GOS

In the past year we have learned a lot. We have learned that standards are critically important and difficult to implement. Among our accomplishments is the suite of standards that was submitted to ANSI. In addition, DOT and Census are now using standards to implement services across the government. People are taking notice - in fact, in one year GAO will have undertaken three studies on geospatial data.

We have learned that local governments do not like taking surveys and would prefer a living inventory of geospatial data be maintained through the GOS portal. The channels in the portal can be used to solve problems by accessing multiple servers. The Hurricane Isabel channel in the portal supported response. There is a Lewis and Clark channel that highlights the expedition.

Hank also highlighted the National Hydrography Dataset (NHD) as an example of cost savings achieved through effective partnerships. These are the types of partnerships in building data that OMB and Geospatial One-Stop want to promote. This activity is discoverable though the GOS portal and allows data about streams and waterways to be used many times by multiple agencies with different missions. The data is created once and used many times.

Shelby Johnson -Arkansas State Geographic Information Coordinator - was introduced and related a story of how GIS helped Arkansas state police during a manhunt in a rural area. Orthoimagery was used to assist the helicopter pilot during the search. DRGs, road centerline data, and homeowner information from the local assessor was also used. He noted if they'd had access to utility data - such as meter information - it would have been useful in identifying the houses that were occupied. His story of the use of GIS in the successful manhunt will be featured in the upcoming Earth Observation Magazine.

Vicki DeFries - GIS Manager, Office of the Chief Technology Officer, Washington D.C. - was introduced. She described the DC Guide. Powered by DC Atlas, DC Guide was created to help visitors, government workers, and locals find their way around the District, view DC neighborhoods, find real property values, calculate taxi fares, and more. It was created to get the information out to the people based on information that the people want, not on data layers. Over 200 downloadable GIS sets are also available for more technical users. DC Guide can be viewed at: http://about.dc.gov/index.asp. This data will also be accessible through the local government GOS channel.

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RAND Report on "Mapping the Risks" - Beth Lachman, 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: http://www.rand.org/publications/MG/MG142/

Geospatial Data Access - Mike Domaratz, USGS

The FGDC Homeland Security Working Group developed guidelines for data access in response to security concerns. After September 11, Federal agencies and other organizations took different actions regarding public access to geospatial data. While some agencies took no action at all, others withdrew or sanitized their data because it was believed that public access to geospatial data might increase vulnerability to attack.

The FGDC Homeland Security Working Group developed guidelines after reviewing Federal principles and broad policies, analyzing organizations' and NSGIC guidelines, and interacting with RAND study personal. The resulting guidelines state that if the decision is yours and if the data warrants restriction (through usefulness to an adversary, "uniqueness" of sensitive information, and if the security cost outweighs societal benefit) - then the data could either be changed or restricted. After receiving public comments it is apparent that there is some uneasiness over the "uniqueness" criterion as well as lingering questions about roles, authorities and implementation issues.

The Homeland Security Working Group will now react to the comments received and refine the guidelines, have a final agency review, and then the final step would be adoption by the FGDC Steering Committee. For more information please visit: http://www.fgdc.gov/fgdc/homeland/.

[PowerPoint 765KB]

NSDI Future Directions - Ivan DeLoatch, FGDC Staff Director

The purpose of the Future Directions Initiative is to draft a national geospatial strategy for further development of the National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI). The drivers for this initiative include: revised OMB Circular A-16, E-Government Act of 2002 (Section 216), President's Management Agenda, proposed legislation and GAO reports related to geospatial data.

The first strategic plan for the NSDI was developed in 1994 and was updated in 1997. The feedback received from focus groups, interviews, workshops, and visioning sessions included the belief that the structure of the FGDC should be redefined to include stakeholder groups; national goals should be defined; FGDC coordination should be improved; and resources should be leveraged through partnerships. To address these needs, action areas were developed to: forge partnerships with purpose; make Framework real; and communicate the message by 2010. Each of these action areas includes about 5 objectives that will be achieved with the help of the FGDC Coordination Group members.

The next steps in the NSDI Future Directions Initiative are selecting action teams; developing project plans; and developing a monitoring system.

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Discussion and Comments:

Comment: The geospatial activities in this country are progressing like a fast moving train. Does the Future Directions plan focus sharply enough on what can be done in the next year? The FGDC needs to play a role in national integration to help with homeland security.

Comment: As we develop a project management plan we will develop action teams that are not necessarily led by FGDC staff. It will be a national strategy.

Comment: Cities are making progress with state and local partners in connecting to the broader system. FGDC is on the right track.

Comment: The FGDC might not have an aggressive enough plan - there is a presidential directive to have a GIS for homeland security completed by the end of the summer.

Comment: We will need to document our strategy before we begin implementing it. What is the joint business case? What are the actual outcomes from the goals? We need an end-to-end strategy document.

Comment: The plan should be less passive - we need financial incentives to get cooperation at the local level. Federal funds would be useful in encouraging local governments to follow standards and share their geospatial data.

The Cooperative Agreement Program (CAP) for 2004 covers FGDC, GOS, and The National Map. FGDC would encourage other agencies to pool their resources and participate in the 2005 CAP.

OMB will look at the need for incentives for State and local governments above money from the Federal programs.

Comment: A mechanism is needed to spread enough finances to make a difference to all local governments across the nation.

Comment: A lot of grant programs are not geared towards technology - grants should be aimed at technology to build infrastructure for first responders at the local level without new money. We need to refocus the programs out there.

Comment: Interoperability of systems is important - it's needed to cross connect.

We need to follow the vision, the money and the fear. We should look at homeland security and disaster response. Develop a strategy focused on homeland security for communities that have not had to worry about preparing for natural disasters in the past.

We need to leverage partnerships with States and locals.

Data security is a concern to the utility sector. There are specific proprietary regulations.
What can FGDC do to protect utilities to ensure their data is accessed without violating proprietary data?

OMB and FGDC had Framework Implementation Teams. They reviewed existing finances and examined realigning existing finances to better support State and local governments.

Recently OMB was working with GOS on establishing a formal process to get the Federal act together - to develop a system to document data purchases, investments and grants, so we can coordinate grants. OMB is still developing this and will soon give the agencies their reporting requirements.

Timing is the key.

Our first goal could be "establishing a governance structure" to include a financing structure. We need to keep FACA in mind.

We could develop a governance structure within a year, it won't take as long as 2010.

Maybe FGDC can take the role of facilitating data buys and sharing data. FGDC could facilitate the sharing of digital orthophotography money used by Feds and States. But there is always a turf war - people are afraid to say what they are spending because they are afraid it will be taken away.

In the GAO Report, Department of Agriculture voiced a concern over who pays for the agency's costs for coordination. How do you fund participatory action?

Coordination does have value and can save money over the long run. We need to flesh this out and provide examples. We need to show that the external benefits of coordination far outweigh the costs.

GOS is creating a business model based on the one done by The National Map.

Performance measures are an issue. Documenting the value of coordination to OMB is a challenge.

Griles: Homeland security, data sharing and money are the themes that keep occurring in this discussion. Last year it was like pulling teeth to get the agencies to show the money that was going towards geospatial data purchases.

We should have a pilot demonstrating the benefits of coordination and sharing. And it should be done more quickly.

We ought to go back and reflect on the Future Directions goals. We may need to condense some of the tasks and make some come to closure sooner.

It will take effort from everyone here to get this done. We also need the help of DHS to help make this happen.

Griles recommended that the FDGC Steering Committee accept FGDC Future Directions plan with modifications - shorten the timetable, integrate homeland security, and have a pilot with partners to integrate. The recommendation was approved by the Steering Committee.

Griles: FGDC should work with those who made comments to revise the plan and then send it out to the FGDC Steering Committee within the next few weeks to see if it meets approval.

We also need to find a way to protect utility data so that it can be used for homeland security and by first responders.

Karen Evans: We need partnerships to move forward. She will find the answers to the issues that were brought up so we could come to closure.

Griles: Progress is slow but in times of urgency we need to speed it up.

Deputy Secretary Griles thanked Governor Gerringer for attending this meeting.

Gerringer: He stated that he came directly from a meeting with DHS Secretary Tom Ridge. Grants are going out from DHS to locals for coordination, standards and leveraging of funds. Locals need to be interoperable - and should work together instead of each locality doing it on their own. Locals need data to make decisions.

Secretary Ridge wants science and technologies to look into interoperability. DHS feels the urgency - there needs to be a sense of importance to the work of FGDC. We need leadership to move this forward - we need almost a mandate to make this happen.

Griles: We will look to DHS to see they are allocating grants going to locals for integrated, interoperable data.

John Crowe: DHS is rewriting its FY05 grants to include an interoperable approach for geospatial applications. DHS is developing a national strategy for interoperability.

Griles: We will attempt to redefine our Future Directions plan to incorporate what we have discussed today and to integrate what DHS is trying to accomplish.

Deputy Secretary Griles thanked everyone for attending the meeting.

Please submit corrections to Alison Dishman (adishman@fgdc.gov).