Homeland Security Working Group Charter


The Homeland Security Working Group (HSWG) is established under the auspices of the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) to serve as the focal point for identification of geospatial metadata, information content, symbology, interface and other specifications, guidelines, and standards required to ensure that geospatial information technologies support the achievement of these strategic goals of homeland security:

  • Awareness -- Identify and understand threats, assess vulnerabilities, determine potential impacts and disseminate timely information to our homeland security partners and the American public. 
  • Prevention -- Detect, deter and mitigate threats to our homeland.
  • Protection -- Safeguard our people and their freedoms, critical infrastructure, property and the economy of our Nation from acts of terrorism, natural disasters, or other emergencies.
  • Response -- Lead, manage and coordinate the national response to acts of terrorism, natural disasters, or other emergencies.
  • Recovery -- Lead national, state, tribal, local and private sector efforts to restore services and rebuild communities after acts of terrorism, natural disasters, or other emergencies.
  • Service -- Serve the public effectively by facilitating lawful trade, travel and immigration.

Another important function of the HSWG is to serve as a bridge between the Homeland Security (HLS) and Homeland Defense (HLD) geospatial domains. HLS, for which the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is the Federal lead, is defined as the unified national effort to secure America, prevent and deter terrorist attacks, protect against and respond to threats and hazards to the nation, ensure safe and secure borders, welcome lawful immigrants and visitors, and promote the free-flow of commerce. HLD, for which the Department of Defense (DoD) is the Federal lead, is juxtaposed to the HLS mission area and encompasses the protection of U.S. sovereignty, territory, domestic population, and critical defense infrastructure against external threats and aggression.  The linkage between these two domains is critical because ideally they both should leverage the same commonly identified authoritative data sources for basic homeland infrastructure visualization and analysis.  The HSWG serves its bridging function by providing DHS and DoD representatives as well as other agencies with a forum for collaboration on cross-domain geospatial requirements definition and complementary standards and policy development.


The HSWG will identify geospatial information technologies, resources, standards and data applicable to homeland security. It will also identify and address unsatisfied homeland security-related geospatial needs. The HSWG is complementary to all NSDI activities and will therefore coordinate its activities with organizations representing communities of interest in the homeland security and related mission areas, as well as with other FGDC subcommittees and working groups. The HSWG will use nationwide coordination mechanisms between all levels of government to encourage appropriate participation in its activities and to fully inform relevant stakeholders about standards, data production, coordination activities, management planning, and training opportunities.


The Department of Homeland Security will chair the HSWG in accordance with FGDC processes and procedures for working group activities. Co-chairmanship may be considered through agreement of the HSWG and the chair.


The activities of the HSWG are in accordance with OMB Circulars A-16, A-119, and A-130, and Executive Order 12906.


The HSWG shall consist of representatives designated by:

a) those Federal agencies that as part of their mission collect or finance the collection of geospatial data that are applicable to homeland security missions, and

b) those Federal agencies that are legislatively mandated to directly apply these data (e.g. agencies specified in the National Response Plan and relevant Homeland Security Presidential Directives) in support of homeland security missions.

Each member agency of the Working Group shall designate its representatives, alternates if desired, and changes thereto, to the HSWG Chairperson(s).

Non-Federal governmental organizations (state, local, and tribal governments) and associations representing groups of non-Federal governmental organizations may be added with the concurrence of the HSWG Chairperson(s) and will be recorded in Attachment A, which may be amended at any time.

Nongovernmental organizations may also participate in the HSWG but their participation is limited to a non-decision making role. Thus, industry associations or consortia, non-US governmental organizations, and the like may be invited to attend meetings to provide information and opinions to the HSWG, but may not participate in the decision making of the working group.


The National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI) encompasses policies, standards, and procedures for organizations to cooperatively produce and share geographic data. The responsibilities of the HSWG include developing and facilitating the information and tools which enable the NSDI to be responsive to governments at all levels in the preparation for, prevention of, protection against, response to, and recovery from threats and hazards to our Nation.  These HSWG responsibilities fall into the broad mission areas of Policy Recommendations, Standards, and Coordination.  Principal responsibilities include the following:

Policy Development:

A.    Developing and implementing guidelines for the identification, dissemination, and sharing (web-served or other) of geospatial data required for DHS and DOD critical infrastructure programs and that are or may be determined to be Homeland Security-sensitive.

B.    Assisting in the development and publication of process and policy guidelines applicable to homeland security data and supporting the testing and validation of guidelines or specifications developed or modified by the HSWG.

C.    Recommending additions to or changes of homeland security-related NSDI data themes and their lead agencies to the FGDC Steering Committee.


D.    Developing, publishing, and facilitating the adoption of common standards of content, symbology, format, and accuracy for homeland security data for use by all Federal agencies, with adoption for use by non-Federal organizations encouraged to increase interchangeability and interoperability.

E.    Participating in the development and evaluation of data theme definitions and standards used by international organizations and making process recommendations for international geospatial information data sharing for homeland security and global regional critical infrastructure protection purposes.


F.    Promoting the development of a coordinated and consistent data and information availability, with emphasis on the needs of the first responder community, for use in crises and in planning and conducting exercises and personnel training, particularly where multiple jurisdictions and/or agencies are involved.

G.    Promoting the effective use of common, coordinated information sources and tools by local, tribal, state, Federal, and volunteer entities that ensure that elected officials and lead decision-makers are capable of developing integrated local and state plans that successfully integrate into and are enabled by national plans.

H.    Developing procedures for the collection, compilation, and dissemination of information for and about homeland security data activities and promoting the coordination of those interagency activities related to homeland security data.  This includes the identification and exchange of authoritative homeland infrastructure data among various Federal, state, and local levels of government, as supported by the efforts of the Homeland Infrastructure Foundation-Level Database (HIFLD) Working Group.

I.    Supporting and promoting collaborative activities and initiatives established or recognized by the FGDC, such as the Geospatial One-Stop.


HSWG meetings will be held at the call of the HSWG Chairperson(s), at least quarterly. Normal notification of meetings, accompanied by an agenda, will be made to members of the HSWG and to the FGDC Executive Secretary no less than 10 Federal working days in advance of a meeting. However, emergency meetings may be convened by the chairperson(s) at any time with however much advance notice as is possible under the prevailing circumstances.

Due to the nature of some types of information required to assure homeland security and the requirements for processing and storage of that information, some meetings of the HSWG and its associated subgroups are held at the classified security level. Such meetings will be limited to discussion of the topics necessitating a meeting at the classified level.

All decisions are made on the basis of consensus agreement. Where agreement cannot be reached, the issue is promptly referred to the FGDC Executive Secretary to be scheduled for resolution.

Prior to implementing HSWG decisions that may impact the FGDC or its other subcommittees or working groups, the HSWG Chairperson(s) will consult with the Chairperson of the Coordination Group to assess the need for intra-FGDC coordination.

The HSWG may by consensus establish additional rules and procedures for conducting its business.


The HSWG may create task groups and other types of subgroups at the discretion of the HSWG Chairperson(s), and as appropriate, to carry out the activities of the HSWG in meeting its responsibilities. The establishment of subgroups of more than 12 months duration that are in addition to any specified in this charter and the abolishment of any such subgroup requires the approval of the FGDC Coordination Group. Participants in these groups may be drawn from its member organizations and from other organizations, as appropriate.


The HSWG will employ those tools that are best suited to meeting its responsibilities. Examples include working group meetings, national user forums, annual requirements solicitations, user surveys and analyses, spatial data user workshops, research initiatives, and cooperative ventures. The HSWG may use these tools or any other lawful tools it deems necessary for the conduct of its business and the coordination of its work with appropriate governmental, private sector, international, and academic entities.

The HSWG Chairperson(s) will coordinate the HSWG’s activities with other FGDC subcommittees, working groups, and other components by participating in the FGDC Coordination Group.


The HSWG formally reports to the FGDC annually, prior to December 31. The HSWG annual status report shall be submitted to the Executive Secretary, and shall contain:

  • Accomplishments of the past calendar year,
  • An operating plan for activities for the upcoming year,
  • Photographs, diagrams, and other materials that may be of value for inclusion in FGDC reports,
  • A brief discussion of any problems encountered and other matters of interest.

Special reports and technical papers also may be requested by the FGDC during the reporting period describing special projects, coordination with other subcommittees or working groups, and the development of status graphics or catalogs and informational or educational brochures on the use and availability of critical infrastructure data and tools supporting information needs for homeland security.

The HSWG Chairperson(s) shall provide a draft report of HSWG meetings, including HSWG recommendations and action items, to HSWG members for review prior to approval.

The HSWG Chairperson(s) shall provide the final report of HSWG meetings to HSWG members, the FGDC Executive Secretary, and the Standards Working Group Chairperson.


The HSWG shall remain in existence until terminated by the FGDC.