In Reply Refer To:
Mail Stop 511
To: John Moeller
Chair, Federal Geographic Data Committee Coordination Group
From: Richard E. Witmer
Chief, National Mapping Division
Subject: National Mapping Division's Commitment to National Spatial Data Infrastructure Standards
As a result of the discussions at the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) Coordination Group retreat in Shepardstown, West Virginia on January 20, 1999, I feel I should clarify USGS/NMD standards policy.
It is the policy of Department of the Interior (DOI), U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), and National Mapping Division (NMD) to promote the development of the National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI) and we believe that the FGDC Metadata Standard, the FGDC GeoSpatial Data Clearinghouse, the Spatial Data Transfer Standard (SDTS), and the FGDC family of standards all play important roles in the development and implementation of the NSDI. It is the policy of the USGS to continue to document new data holdings with metadata compliant to the FGDC standards and the policy of the NMD to continue to provide resources to promote the adoption of FGDC metadata concepts as part of ISO 15046-15. It is the policy of NMD to provide the FGDC secretariat with the resources to continue the development and implementation of the FGDC Clearinghouse; specifically, to continue to work closely with the OpenGIS consortium to create a cataloging services specification that is compatible with the FGDC and ISO metadata standards. It is the policy of the USGS to expand the use of the Clearinghouse within all the divisions of the USGS. It is the policy of the USGS to use the SDTS as its preferred geospatial data exchange format and it is the policy of the NMD to continue to provide resources to maintain and promote the use of the SDTS both within the FGDC and the American National Standards Institute. It is also the policy of the USGS to promote the use of the SDTS internationally whenever appropriate.
Although the DOI, the USGS, and NMD strongly support the use of Commercial Off The Shelf (COTS) software whenever possible, they do not endorse the adoption of data structures of one vendor as a substitute for national or international voluntary consensus standards.
NMD is very proud of what it was able to accomplish even though little or none of the NSDI concepts were in place in Central America to assist the Hurricane Mitch project. But there is no doubt within the agency that had Clearinghouse, Metadata, SDTS, and pertinent digital data sets been available, that the task would have been much easier and that less USGS expertise and money would have been required to accomplish the task. The task was completed without the use of Clearinghouse, Metadata, and SDTS at great expense, both in expertise and dollars. Since the concept of the NSDI is to make results similar to those achieved for this project obtainable by "common users," it is unfair to suggest that the Hurricane Mitch project in any way negates the efforts of the FGDC to develop the NSDI.
I hope this memorandum clarifies and reinforces the Department of the Interior (DOI), U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), and National Mapping Division (NMD) policies and commitment to National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI) standards.
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