May 23 FGDC Steering Committee meeting




Welcome and Introductions

Jim Cason welcomed the group and introduced himself as acting Assistant Secretary for Policy, Management and Budget at the Department of the Interior (DOI).  Tom Weimer, who previously held the position, recently left DOI to accept a position as Minority Staff Director for the new Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming of the U.S. House of Representatives.   Mr. Cason said that he was pleased to be participating with the FGDC and explained that Lynn Scarlett was unable to chair due to travel obligations.  


FGDC Business Update                                            Leslie Armstrong     


·        New ROI Workbook and Templates
·        Cooperative Agreements Program
·        50 States Initiative
·        Imagery for the Nation
·        Standards
·        Communications 

Mr. Cason announced that Leslie Armstrong, FGDC Deputy Staff Director for the past two and a half years, would take a new job next week as USGS Deputy Regional Director for the Central Region in Denver.  He stated that he heard great things about Leslie and hopes she will continue to participate with the committee in her new capacity. 

Leslie Armstrong said that she enjoyed getting to know the people involved with FGDC.  She learned an incredible amount in the past two and a half years and although she is moving to Denver, she will keep in touch. 


Implementation of the Geospatial Line of Business            Ivan DeLoatch


Ivan stated that he will miss Leslie Armstrong – he appreciates having the opportunity to work with her the past couple of years.  FGDC owes a lot to her – Leslie put a lot of work into our activities and moved us forward. 

Current activities:

  • Establishment MOUs and IAA to initiate working relationship and funding to support the Joint Business Case and solutions outlined in Common Solutions/Target Architecture Document
  • 2007 Investments Data Call - Agencies to update and report their inventories and investments of geospatial data and services
  • NSDI/Circular A-16 Reporting - Data theme steward agencies are to provide a status and planned development baseline for each of the 34 A-16 datasets, including establishment of target dates, costs, and tasks for completing each dataset 

2007 Data Call:

  • Built upon lessons learned from the 2006 Data Call
  • Qualitative component to assess common business needs, data acquisition strategies, federal capabilities and priorities
  • Refined and consolidated the spreadsheets to target information that will be more useful in identifying and quantifying common data and services investments
  • Provided more succinct agency guidance to acquire data that will generate more compatible information 

A-16 Reporting:

  • A-16 Request to Agencies – distributed April 23
  • Purpose:  To compile lead federal agency performance reporting information with regard to national coverage coordination and stewardship of NSDI data themes as required by OMB Circular A-16
  • Data will be used to assist in the development of the common solutions outlined in the Geo LoB Common Solutions and Target Architecture (CS/TA) document – will show gaps, help us identify the next milestones for 08 and 09
  • Agency responses due May 25 

We need your agency to be represented on the task force and working groups to help us determine milestones.

Geospatial Line of Business (Geo LoB) Implementation Summary

  • 2007 Data Call, conducting analysis
  • Need to complete the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and Interagency Agreement (IA) process
  • Completed the Program Management Office (PMO) Con Ops
  • Need to Establish the PMO
  • Complete Transition activities
  • Organize the new Workgroups
  • Develop LoB Performance Management Plan
  • Develop FY 09 Joint Business Case

Karen Evans: Federal agencies should remember that the data inventory and Circular A-16 reporting are scorecard milestones.  If you miss these data calls, it will count against your agency’s scorecard for this quarter. 

Q:  What is the chance for cross-pollination between the FACA and the Geo LoB.  It would be helpful for the FACA to have info from the LoB to help them frame issues.
A  (Karen Evans):  There will be commonalities between the LoB and FACA, but the Program Management Office (PMO) will be focusing on budget.  The advisory committee (FACA) will be more policy level than operational level.  There are fundamentally opportunities for us to work together; we will bring in expertise and skill sets to determine requirements analysis, etc. 

Publicly releasable versions of business cases are available to the public on the web after it is approved in the President’s budget.  We have the information and do make it available publicly. 

Q:  Will the data call responses be released to the public?
A  (Karen Evans):  At this point no, it is budget sensitive data.  We can discuss whether we can put out the gross numbers.   The data you are requesting covers the past 3 years and what is currently planned, in case we have to redirect funds.  So some information may be procurement sensitive – that’s why we talk about publicly releasable info.  We do know you’d like to see what we do from an analysis perspective. 

Q:  Last year we were told the data call information wasn’t being released because of the poor quality of information.  Can you release this data call information since the quality of response is better this time around and relates to the past three years (isn’t pre-decisional)?
A  (Karen Evans):  OMB collects information to be analyzed by the general council, but the information still belongs to the agency.  We have to work though a process with the general council for OMB to release data.   In some cases OMB can release general numbers and names, and then interested parties can go directly to the agencies for more specific information.   

Action:  Karen Evans will confer with the general counsel’s office to determine what past budget information OMB may release and what information must be released by the agencies themselves.  


National Geospatial Advisory Committee (FACA)               John Mahoney

[presentation] [press release] [Federal Register Notice] 

The call for nominations for the National Geospatial Advisory Committee (NGAC) was issued on May 14, with nominations due June 28.  The nominations can be submitted by organizations, by an individual on behalf of others, or for themselves.  A small review panel will go through the nominations and submit their recommendations to the Secretary of the Interior.  We hope to have this committee active by the end of this fiscal year.

Action:  Please get the word out to your geospatial partners and stakeholders to get a good set of nominations for the committee. 

Action:  If you have an interest in participating on the review panel please contact John Mahoney ( 

The NGAC will be an advisory committee under the Federal Advisory Committee Act to provide advice and recommendations to FGDC agencies regarding the development of the NSDI.  The NGAC will report to FGDC Steering Committee chair.  The Secretary of the Department of the Interior will sponsor the advisory committee, and USGS will provide funding and administrative support. 

Q:  In some of the earlier briefing materials and the last Steering Committee meeting discussion – you had language we didn’t understand regarding conflicts of interest.  Has any clarity brought to that issue? 
A:  There is a link in the Federal Register notice to the FACA’s draft charter, which still contains the ethics language.  This is the standard language DOI uses in committee charters regarding conflict of interest.  It states that members can’t have direct interest in committee issues where they could stand to benefit from the decision.  In that instance they would need to recuse themselves from the decision.  It should not be an issue, as the committee will deal with policy issues with a generic impact, but not usually a specific impact on a party.  

The charter is a high-level description of what the committee does.  The charter will be filed with GSA when membership is established.  Once it is established, the committee will develop its own, more detailed, bylaws. 

Q:  What about federal government membership on the FACA committee? 
A:  It is a standard practice to have federal representation on a FACA.  For example a healthcare FACA has government participants with voting memberships because feds represent 47% of the market.  Federal participation on the FACA really depends on the subject matter and how the Secretary wants to do it.  There are also FACAs with non-voting federal voting members -- it depends on how the Secretary chooses to put it together and who the stakeholders are.  Right now looks like there will be five members from federal agencies. 

Q:   But if the purpose of the FACA is to provide advice from non-federal stakeholders to FGDC – the federal government should not be giving advice to itself.  Can you tell me what percentage of federal government is represented in the geospatial industry?
A:  No, I don’t have the percentage.  You have a chance to voice your concerns, please send these comments in through the Federal Register. 

Q:  But nothing has been done to address the concern.
A:   We are trying to address all the concerns.  You have all asked for OMB to get more involved in the FGDC, and now we have to make sure we follow all the rules.  There are certain things we can’t talk about and release if industry is involved.  We are trying to work though the best way to do this, as we work through the legal process with the general council. 

Q:  But the non-feds wanted to know about the construct of the advisory council before the call for nominations went out.  It is unfair to have federal employees taking up seats that should go to non-federal stakeholders.
A:  The intent is truly to get advice from the outside.  We have the minutes and your concerns are noted.  

Action:  Jim Cason will discuss with Lynn Scarlett the issues of federal membership and voting on the FACA committee. 

The composition of the FACA is not set in stone; these are rough numbers that depend on nominations.  There is no set number of federal members.  We will take your concerns into account regarding having a smaller, rather than larger, federal contribution. 

Q:  Have you thought about having federal members that are non-voting?
A:  Yes, having non-voting federal members on the FACA is an option.  The goal is to develop consensus on issues that develop. 

Q:  The Future Directions governance recommendations specified the sectors of the non-federal participants on the FACA.  Why don’t you have that kind of specificity on the kinds of federal members?
A:  CIO council membership would be good, but you are right, it is not specific. 

Q:  What are the actual criteria for the selection of FACA members? 
A:  The general criteria are that the member should represent a community of interest, be it a level of government, industry, non-profit group, etc.  

Karen Evans:  The nomination period closes at the end of June.  We will try to get the review criteria – how the selections will be made – out before the nomination process closes.  We will also try to include review panel representation. 

Action: Please send John Mahoney your suggestions on review panel guidelines/criteria for National Geospatial Advisory Committee membership (  FGDC will post the guidelines on the FGDC website.


Homeland Security Infrastructure Program             William Mullen


After September 11, 2001, federal decision makers needed a single place to go for geospatial data.  The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) stood up a tiger team to determine the type of information needed for the nation’s critical infrastructure and developed an acquisition strategy to provide that data to the federal community.  A data broker was stood up in 2003 to provide imagery and vector data, but it was hard to distribute in a coherent way and some did not like the quality of the data.  NGA assumed in 2002 that HSIP would be taken over by DHS or some other federal agency – NGA is always working to move their products over to be used by the federal community. 

In 2005 NGA generated the best data we had into a Homeland Security Infrastructure Program (HSIP) Gold release and provided it to federal, state and local responders.  The states and locals provided comments after Hurricane Katrina – requesting more authoritative federal data.  In some cases this was not possible if the private sector had the better data.  National State Geographic Information Council (NSGIC) requested that information be provided to local responders throughout the entire state, not just urban areas. 

This presentation deals with the 2007 HSIP Gold.  This newer version has standardized FGDC symbols and 60% more data than the 2005 version.  80% of the data have FGDC compliant metadata to some degree.  The imagery acquisition plan includes 133 city data, mostly acquired through the USGS The National Map (TNM) and is available to local responders, although there are some restrictions because of commercial data sets. 

NGA’s goal is to provide complete datasets with no limits on distribution to state and local responders.  The challenge is the private-sector license restrictions.  NGA would like to come up with different approach – HSIP Freedom where state and local government provide data to DHS or NGA, which could be improved and returned to state and locals so they can get benefit from that data.  Then the states would be able to look at same data as federal government. 

It can be a challenge to develop data acquired from local areas.  In 2004 they attempted to develop HSIP city from a local Washington data set.  But eight out of ten phone numbers for police stations were incorrect in county’s GIS datasets.  They realized that they didn’t need to use these phone numbers because everyone could just call 911.  It was a learning experience, it difficult to convert local data into a GIS format without coherent plan. 

Comment:  States and locals could provide more information with funding – a small amount of federal funding could go a long way. 

Q:  This effort preexisted the stand-up of DHS.  The work of NGA and USGS helped establish this program.  Can you tell us how the hifld work group relates to this?  Also could this effort contribute to Geospatial Line of Business?   It is good that you are collaborating with state partners.
A;  Hifld provided guidance in the development of the HSIP.  Hifld was formed in after 9/11 and the community of interest sustained itself since 2001.  The meetings are open to State, local, and Federal government.  For more information visit:  You can log in to be a member – and contractors can be sponsored by government agency to access the site.  You can request a copy of HSIP gold through this site.  The next hifld meeting is in June before ESRI conference in San Diego.  

Comment:  Census requests a copy of HSIP Gold with all of the data except roads, because they are restricted due to their licensing agreements.  

Action:  William Mullen will provide Randy Fusaro a copy of HSIP Gold with all of the data excepting roads. 

Comment:  States and locals may feel that this project is causing more work than it is worth.  Multiple people are contacting the state in different places for the same pieces of information.  

Please contact William Mullen with questions.  (

Action:  Ivan will reach out to hifld to align the activities and information of HSIP Freedom and the Geospatial Line of Business.   


Imagery for the Nation                                              William Burgess / Shirley Hall


Imagery for the Nation was proposed by the National State Geographic Information Council (NSGIC) as a means to regularly acquire federally funded, standardized U.S. imagery for the public domain.  The initiative incorporates current USDA and USGS programs.   

At the request of the FGDC Steering Committee, the federal agencies in the National Digital Orthophoto Program (NDOP) worked with NSGIC to develop a Cost Benefit Analysis (CBA).  The CBA was funded by USGS and USDA and conducted by Perot Systems.  Although the results will not be distributed until early July, early analysis indicates that the program would likely save the nation $48 billion per year on imagery acquisition. 

A briefing on the results of the CBA will be given at the next Steering Committee meeting. 

Action:  Jim Cason will convene an Executive Committee to receive a briefing on the CBA and program issues.  This Executive Committee will be asked to assist with the development and implementation of IFTN funding strategies.


The next FGDC Steering Committee meeting will be held on August 23.