Federal Geodetic Control Subcommittee Charter

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This exhibit addresses lead agency responsibilities for the coordination of geodetic control and other surveying activities to support the geodetic control networks, as well as lower-order control surveying for cadastral, topographic, hydrographic, bathymetric, and related resource and facility mapping activities (herein referred to as geodetic data) of civilian Federal agencies, and for establishing a mechanism for the coordinated development, use, sharing, and dissemination of these data financed in whole or part by Federal funds.

* Geodesy is the science concerned with determining the size and shape of the Earth. In practice, it is equivalent to determining, in some convenient coordinate system, the coordinates of points on the Earth's surface. Geodetic data include: latitude, longitude, azimuths, and elevations; astronomic, satellite positioning, and gravimetric data.



Under the Office of Management and Budget Circular A-16, revised 2002, responsibility to coordinate geodetic data-related activities is assigned to the Department of Commerce. This departmental government-wide leadership for geodetic data coordination is carried out under the policy guidance and oversight of the Federal Geographic Data Committee Steering Committee (hereafter called FGDC).

Pertinent enabling authority also resides in the language of:

A) U.S. Code, Title 33, Sections 883a-e.

B) DoD Directive 5105.40, "Defense Mapping Agency," revised December 6, 1990.

C) U.S. Code, Title 10, Sections 2791-2794.

D) The Organic Administration Act of June 4, 1897.

E) U.S. Code, Title 5, Section 301.

F) Treaties of 1908 and 1925 between the United States of America and the United Kingdom concerning the boundary between the United States and the Dominion of Canada.

G) U.S. Code, Title 10, Sections 2807 and 4540.

H) U.S. Code, Title 33, Sections 2282(a) and 2287(a).

I) U.S. Code, Title 33, Sections 569b and 2292.

J) Appropriations Acts of 1879 and 1896.

K) U.S. Code, Title 43, Section 42.

L) U.S. Code, Title 43, SS 1331-1356.

M) Interior Department Order 3071 dated January 19, 1982, and amendment 1 dated May 10, 1982.

N) Department of the Interior Manual 757 DM 2.7B(2).

O) American-Mexican Boundary Treaty Act of 1972.

P) U.S. Code, Title 14, Section 81.

Q) Executive Order 12906, April 13, 1994.



The lead agency responsible for the coordination, management, and dissemination of geodetic control data is the Department of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Ocean Service, National Geodetic Survey. This organization will develop and implement a plan to coordinate geodetic data-related activities among Federal and non-Federal agencies and will report its activities to FGDC. In carrying out its government-wide leadership in geodetic data coordination, the National Geodetic Survey is directly responsible to FGDC and ensures compliance to the objectives and guidance provided by FGDC.



A Subcommittee on geodetic data, the Federal Geodetic Control Subcommittee (FGCS), (hereafter called the Subcommittee), has been established to:

A) Promote standards of accuracy and currency in geodetic data financed in whole or part by    Federal funds;

B) Exchange information on technological improvements for acquiring geodetic data;

C) Encourage the Federal and non-Federal community to identify and adopt standards and      specifications for geodetic data;

D) Collect and process the requirements of Federal and non-Federal organizations for geodetic data.


The Subcommittee consists of representatives designated by the Federal agencies that acquire, or finance the acquisition of, geodetic data as part of their mission or have direct application of these data through legislated mandate. Each member agency of the Subcommittee shall designate its representative, and alternate, if necessary, and changes thereto, by memorandum from that agency to the FGDC Executive Secretariat (hereafter called the Executive Secretariat). Other Federal organizations may be added with the concurrence of the Subcommittee Chairperson by formally requesting membership through the Executive Secretariat. The Subcommittee shall be chaired by the Director, National Geodetic Survey.



Responsibilities of the Subcommittee include the following:

A. Facilitate the coordination of agencies' activities and the exchange of geodetic data, by formal and informal means.

B. Collect and compile information on Federal agencies' geodetic data activities and determine which categories of geodetic data are to be included in the National Spatial Data Infrastructure and recommend additional categories of geodetic data not currently being collected.

C. Participate in the development and evaluation of geodetic data definitions and standards to be used by the Nation and by international organizations.

D. Develop, adopt, publish, and promote common standards of content, format, and accuracy for geodetic data for use by all Federal agencies and to encourage use by non-Federal organizations, to increase its interchangeability and enhance its potential for multiple uses.

E. Assist in the establishment of surveying specifications to support geodetic data standards and assist in establishing priorities for testing and publishing same.

F. Facilitate the economic and efficient application of geodetic data through the sharing of experiences involving applications in support of member agencies' mandates or crosscutting partner activities established or recognized by FGDC.

G. Coordinate with other FGDC Subcommittees and Work Groups the Federal agencies' control surveying requirements to support the geodetic control network, as well as lower-order control surveying for cadastral, topographic, hydrographic, bathymetric, and related resource and facility mapping activities.



Subcommittee meetings can be held at the call of the Subcommittee Chairperson or subcommittee members, and shall be held at least semiannually. Meeting agendas will be created by the Subcommittee Secretariat with input from the Subcommittee members.  Normally, notification of meetings and an agenda will be distributed to members of the Subcommittee at least 14 days in advance of the meeting.

All decisions shall be on the basis of consensus agreement. Where agreement is not reached, the issue will be promptly referred to the FGDC Coordination Group for resolution.

The Subcommittee Chairperson shall consult with the Chairperson of the Coordination Group to determine the need for further coordination prior to implementing Subcommittee decisions that impact FGDC or its other subcommittees or working groups.

The Subcommittee may establish additional rules and procedures for conducting business.


The Subcommittee may create work groups or task groups, or further subdivisions, at the discretion of the Subcommittee Chairperson, as appropriate to carry out its activities and meet its responsibilities. The FGCS will have the following Work Groups:

  • Fixed Reference Stations Work Group,
  • Spectrum Work Group,
  • Instrument Work Group,
  • Methodology Work Group
  • Vertical Reference Systems Work Group



The Subcommittee will engage in those activities that are best suited to meeting its responsibilities, such as Subcommittee meetings, user forums and workshops, national reporting requirements,  multimedia announcements and solicitations, user surveys and analyses, research initiatives, and cooperative agreements or partnerships.



The Subcommittee shall report to FGDC Coordination Group biannually. The biannual status reports shall be presented to the FGDC Coordination Group, and shall contain information about the following:

  • Recent meetings
  • Recent developments / projects
  • The next meeting
  • Next steps / activities planned for the upcoming year,
  • photographs, diagrams, and other materials that may be of value for inclusion in the annual FGDC report to the Office of Management and Budget

The Subcommittee Secretariat shall provide a draft report of Subcommittee meetings, including Subcommittee recommendations and action items, to all Subcommittee members for review prior to approval.



The Subcommittee shall remain in existence unless it is terminated by FGDC. At that time, a new exhibit shall be developed by the Department of Commerce describing how the coordination for geodetic control data will be undertaken.