October FGDC Steering Committee Meeting Minutes

Welcome and Introductions

Tom Weimer, Chair, welcomed the group. 

He thanked the FGDC members for contributing to the poster session prior to the meeting, showcasing their agencies’ efforts in emergency preparedness, response and recovery.


FGDC Business Update – Leslie Armstrong 


• 2007 CAP Grants [webpage]
• FGDC Annual Report to OMB [2005 Annual Report] [2006 RFI due Oct 31]
• Subcommittees and Working Groups – FY 07 Workplans due
• Standards Activities [webpage]
• Hurricane Preparedness – [WebEx] [memo]
• Imagery for the Nation


Hurricane Preparedness Presentations 

State and Local Activities – Bill Burgess, NSGIC

DHS Geospatial Preparedness - Dan Cotter, DHS

NOAA/NGS Activities – Dave Zilkoski, NGS

Q:  How soon after Hurricane Katrina was NGS imagery available through Google Earth?
A:  The data was available on Google Earth a few days after the hurricane – although the data was available the day after the hurricane the server clogged due to high demand. 


Geospatial Line of Business - Ivan DeLoatch, FGDC


Action:  Please encourage your staff and coordination group members to join the Geospatial Line of Business (Geo LoB) workgroups (listed on slide 16) related to their areas of expertise.   

We look forward to sharing the Geospatial Line of Business (Geo LoB) information with stakeholders in February after the President’s budget is announced. 

Ivan thanked the staff and managers for their hard work to developing the GeoLob in just a six-month timeline.  26 agencies participated with over 80 task force members.   

Q:  GEOSS Global Earth – is it being addressed in the LoB workgroups? 
A:  Because a US GEO is already organized we have an agenda item to look at the commonalities.  Part of the GEOSS continuing activities implementation plan has a similar concept.  GEOSS and FGDC GEO LoB – have the same underpinnings regarding interoperability standards.


NSDI Governance – Ivan DeLoatch, FGDC


Q:  If the FACA is established will the Steering Committee only consist of Feds?  Is the FACA being established so non-Feds can have access?
A:  Yes

Q: What is the process to have people nominated to the FACA?
A:  Our preliminary thinking, from evaluating FACAs already in place – is that there may be 20-25 members.  It would mirror what we have here but include more private sector involvement.  We would look to those entities to determine who will serve as their representative. 

Q: FACAs take a while to put in place.  Will you ensure you don’t exclude our non Fed partners?
A: Yes 

Comment:  If we approve the creation of a FACA we will no longer have participation of private sector, state and local community.  We are we excluding them from this forum.
Response:  We are not able to have non-Feds in the room when discussing budget and policy.  But we recognize that non-Fed recommendations are important as well.  The FACA is a way of having an open process with all stakeholders while managing all of our assets. 

Q:  What would be the frequency of the FACA meetings and the forums with the stakeholders?
A:  FACAs meet once or twice a year but subcommittees may meet more often.  It’s up to the FACA to make that call.  The substantive activities occur at subcommittee level – they have more flexibility in meeting. 

Comment:  If our current structure is functioning and we have non-Fed involvement now – why not have an all Fed meeting when required, without the FACA, and just leave this group the way it is?
Response:  The advice from the solicitor’s office is that we need a FACA to get formal advice from the stakeholders.  Open forums to discuss issues are fine outside of the FACA, but we need a FACA to get formal advice on an ongoing basis. 

This process is the result of the recommendations of our stakeholders to create a national advisory committee.  They wanted a representative on a national council under the White House, and the creation of a FACA is the action that came forward from that request.   

Q:  Why does this change the format of this meeting?  How did this evolve?
A:  We are walking a fine line right now based on the way of interactions – we cannot have external partners participating in meetings that work towards policy.  We are bringing more structure to the Steering Committee due to the Geo LoB.  Through the Future Directions activity, you were asking for more White House OMB involvement – a responsibility listed in OMB Circular A-16.   

Q:  There is nothing to stop the Federal agencies from forming internal discussion groups.  This current forum allows the non Fed partners to participate in discussions.  Without it you will need to ask for input from the National Academy of Science or through subcommittees.  Is this not a suitable forum?
A:  It’s been OK until now for the exchange of information.  Based on the recommendations being made and the focus on the LoB, the Federal component needs to reorganize and can not be as open in order to have policy discussions.  We are looking for way to form new bodies that allow discussion to evolve.  There may be a Best Practices committee that forms off the Steering Committee.  But sometimes we might have meetings to discuss policy and not invite non Feds.  Through the FACA everyone who wants to participate can give formal recommendations on the national strategy. 

This would be a national council set up under the FACA guidelines.  We want to put it under the auspices of FACA and have a different approach to Fed only meetings. 

Q:  Under the new regime would the working groups and subcommittees allow non Feds?
A:  The Steering Committee and Coordination Group would be Fed only.  The other groups could include non Feds.  Subcommittees and Working Groups will continue to operate the same since they don’t involve policy or budget decisions. 

There are two prongs – possibility that those workgroups under the FACA can be mixed and then come in through the national committee – doesn’t preclude that mixture and discussion happening. 

Comment from NSGIC:   Timing is a challenge.  We support what you are doing, hope you move forward – this is a move we have requested for some time. 

Q:  Why does the FACA report to DOI instead of FGDC?  USGS is losing mapping capabilities.  Why would DOI have it, not DHS?
A:  DOI has the responsibility of chairmanship of FGDC Steering Committee.  DOI supports the FGDC Secretariat as well.  A host agency is needed every time a FACA is established, and DOI was willing to step up and take this on. 

Q:  Will there be rotating chairmanship of the Coordination Group? 
A:  We are considering that.  The chair and co chair of the Steering Committee is set but we could rotate chairmanship of the Coordination Group. 

Comment:  During the Future Directions Activity, the governance team made the recommendation that the FACA be an interim option before setting up a national group.  The FACA is a good interim step, but will set up a divide between Feds and others, we need to move forward.  The FACA creates legal representation but as we implement it we should not create barriers.  A national body would work in a different way. 

Karen Evans:  We are trying to get non Feds’ viewpoint on the table without creating additional legislation on the executive branch. 

Comment:  This body has achieved transparency with stakeholders and private sector.  Concerns with timing on when we could make FACA effective, whose vote carries what, who is representing groups.   

Suggestion:  Today isn’t the day to make a vote.  This decision needs substantial work and discussion. 

Action:  We will vote today that we, as a Federal Steering Committee, would like to provide a formal way for stakeholders to participate in Federal Government issues.  To achieve this end, we are in favor of creating a FACA and vote to move forward to develop a draft charter, which will include membership categories.   

Comment:  WGA supports this recommendation, would like it to move forward today, and looks forward to reviewing a draft charter. 

Q:  How can we commit to this major change without knowing the outcomes?  Today’s vote could bind us into part of developing the outcome.
A:  We are voting to move forward and invest the resources to answer the questions that develop regarding the creation of a FACA.  

Comment:  I would like to see the details of the charter and be assured that all private sector organizations and public groups were going to be a productive part of what we are putting in place and that DOI would function as intermediary as the groups provide insight.  I would vote to authorize further exploration of a FACA charter and membership, without voting to approve a FACA. 

Response:  In the research we’ve done, we’ve determined if there is non Fed involvement we need a FACA.  We are not voting on membership – we are saying that we as a Federal Steering Committee would like to provide a formal way for stakeholders to participate in Federal Government issues.  That is our vote today. 

Q:  What is the implication if we do not vote to form a FACA or go ahead with research on forming a FACA?
A:  As we make decisions and move through the Geo LoB there will be more and more meetings where we will not invite the people here today.  Our discussions may involve recommendations on how the executive branch will work.  We will disinvite non Feds because of policy implications and they won’t know this because we won’t post the information. 

Feds can’t discuss our budgets – we are talking about Federal agencies planning our activities 3 years out.  We need flexibility to be able to plan but need input of our stakeholders. 

If we don’t change the status quo we will not have a formal mechanism to involve partners and stakeholders, to mobilize down to local level to make the NSDI happen.

[Vote results

Action:  Will check with the nonvoting members before we take further action – we had a couple comments that today’s representatives need to confer with their senior officials before voting.


Award Presentation:

Alan Voss, who recently retired from TVA, was presented with two awards -- a NSGIC Outstanding Service Award and award of appreciation from the FGDC Secretariat for his work as an advocate and visionary for the development of the National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI)

The meeting was adjourned. 

The next Steering Committee meeting will be held February 2007