FGDC Vision Interpretation Notes

NSDI Vision - Current and accurate geospatial data will be available to contribute locally, nationally and globally to economic growth, environmental quality and stability, and social progress.

The following notes are the results of small group conversations focusing on interpreting the NSDI vision.

Team 1: 2014 Vision of NSDI (Discussion Leader-Kathy Covert)

What does the vision mean?

  • Inspirational BHAG (big hairy audacious goal)
  • Access to geographic information needed to live in harmony with each other and the Earth
  • Everyone participates in some way or other (as passive recipient of benefits that flow or as active contributor)
  • More success stories
  • More participation
  • We could go to a map and click on (say) Denver, Colorado and all the data we need would be available.

What is the role of FGDC? (Answered from the POV of FGDC as an interagency committee, not FGDC as everything member agencies do)

  • Neutral convener
  • Facilitator
  • Holder of institutional memory

What could your agency contribute?

  • The FGDC could return to Federal interagency coordination.
  • Honest brokerage

What supports does agency need? (Answered from the point of view of a Federal member agency-the U.S. Geological Survey)

  • Identification of meaningful interdependencies with other Federal agency or agencies. Without interdependencies there is no need for coordination.
  • Removal of perverse incentives (usually imposed by OMB and Congress) and structural impediments (such as reporting geospatial investment on an inappropriate template).
  • The standards process needs to be opened up to non-Feds.
  • We lack a persuasive argument for limiting redundancies. We fail to make the business case.
  • Need to add reference to homeland security to the vision statement to create a sense of urgency.
  • No need to distinguish between producers & customers
  • Need a name change for the FGDC (drop Federal was the gist)

Vision Success Factors:

  1. Process not product
  2. Celebrate success stories along the endless journey
  3. Include national security in all aspects
  4. Expand from Federal to National
    • Equal partners
    • States, local, tribal
    • Standards org/consortium
  5. Intersection not union of technology, interests, data, etc.

Bold Steps

  1. Re-launch of NSDI-"grand reopening"
    a. Add non-Feds to subcommittees
    b. Revise FGDC charter to include non-Feds
  2. Select one application to demonstrate the value of multi-jurisdictional
    GIS...something in homeland security for instance.
  3. Alternative to Exhibit 300 for reporting geospatial investment to OMB

Team 2: 2014 Vision of NSDI (Discussion Leader-Bruce McKenzie)

  • Complete intelligent access to metadata/data with no license and restrictions to answer agency/program needs
  • Readily available large scale national data
  • All scales available/National coverage
  • Integrated data/separate but able to integrate
  • Data organized based on hierarchical needs (accuracy, coverage) - intelligent access
  • Users need a decision support system for locals' needs - allows multiple uses/open ended
  • Users of data have capability to update/correct it
  • Desired mechanism to know who owns the data - maybe is added value - owner certification/added value
  • Everyone contributes - process to validate accuracy of data and theme content

FGDC [we are FGDC] needs to:

  • Determine/assess range of needs of FGDC partners
  • Clear understanding of agency roles so there is no overlap (A-16, GOS themes)
    • Clearly define roles and responsibilities of agencies and create partnerships; prevent duplication
  • Identify gaps, overlap, set goals; give actions, assignments, products, due date; broker, foster dialogue, build plan and stick with it (example: Elevation - three agencies partner) [Authority??]
  • Mediate apparent conflicts between agency programs and the common good; facilitate local participation
  • FGDC needs top leadership involvement - Steering Committee not technically oriented
  • Agency roles in maintenance of data needs to be clearly defined by FGDC (A-16, A-119, A-130, etc. expectations need to be compiled by FGDC with specifics)
  • Agencies' highest level strategic goals (budgets) need to reflect participation in NSDI Protocol; agency verbiage must capture their roles as FGDC members
  • FGDC is a neutral, stable coordinating body for geospatial data (example: subcommittee chairs have to take off agency hat/think bigger than focused agency mission)

Critical Steps to Get There:

  • Reevaluate/redefine structure of FGDC
    • Dead subcommittees and weak groups
  • More FTEs to standards effort; framework standards
  • Collect the data to standard
  • Prioritize data needs (through our role in A-16); plan of attack - gauge time needed/low hanging fruit/measurable progress
  • FGDC needs to decide/prioritize Nation's data needs and bring agencies together to fill these needs
  • Enterprise government-wide data procurement/licensing agreement (example: NDOP)
  • Cross-cutting, coordinated budget requests
  • Educate OMB on agency-specific data roles - some agencies have budget restrictions (example: Census can't give money to NDOP)
  • FGDC needs to define National goals for NSDI and then affect cross-agency coordination and partnerships
  • Link business needs of agency to development of spatial data (long-term value) or we'll be stuck "flipping burgers"
  • Big step: MOU between all agencies to define performance measures - take it up as high as possible

Team 3: Future State of NSDI (Discussion Leader-Milo Robinson)

  • Accountability (defined and assured)
  • Resources managed equitably, level playing field
  • Framework for sharing
  • Harmony across standards, practices, protocol, roles/business processes
  • Unambiguous; understood widely
  • Struggle "no more" - all the pieces are there - data, technology, etc.
  • Leadership at all levels understands
  • Date: complete, integrated, current, accurate
  • Value?
    • Ubiquitous
    • Critical underpinning
    • Connected Web
    • Spin-offs
  • Users/consumers
    • All (governments, citizens, industry, not-for-profits)
    • Security (safe environment), resource management, planning, hazard mitigation, etc.


  • Provide new knowledge and expertise
  • Each agency is an integral part of the whole; whole is weakened if agency "fails" or is weak
    • Roles and responsibilities need to be understood; well-defined stuff
    • "Fit" within the NSDI
  • Education and outreach
    • Use of information
  • More than just coordinators
  • "Follow-up" is not an issue; agencies take work to completion
  • Migration of legacy stuff
  • "Project" focus turns to sustained "enterprise" approach; valued by leadership
  • Institutionalize best practices

Role of FGDC

  • Continued facilitation
  • Oversight of process integrity
  • Where's OMB (or other stick carrier) in this?


  • Technology expertise
  • Agency leadership must understand and support internal activity and programs
  • Political
  • Champions
  • Strong FGDC leadership
    • Strategic plan in place
    • Respect from executive leadership

Bold Steps Brainstorming

  • Find way to wield a "stick" and/or carrot --> catalyst for action
    • Accountability via performance standards
    • Exhibit 300s
    • Cooperation/program coordination
  • Identify and define NSDI expectations
  • Process and protocol steps
  • Where appropriate, shape NSDI-friendly legislation
  • Outreach and education
  • Define and articulate a "national" architecture
  • Identify and promote best practices
  • Develop keen understanding and appreciation of day-to-day practical use of geodata and geotechnology

Team 4: NSDI Ten Years in the Future (Discussion Leader - Doug Nebert)

  • Transparent - not hard to do, don't have to think about it, easy "geospatial dial tone"
  • National and global standards have been adopted and implemented
  • Seamless linkage, all data has become interoperable, data are maintained locally
  • "De-conflict" of data done automatically when multiple versions of same data layer exists
  • FGDC helped support all date; providers to bring unity and buy-in from senior agency management
  • Systems and services will have become inter-dependent interactively (rather than passively; aka "looking for maps" stand-alone)

FGDC Role:

  • Leadership, guidance, moral leadership, policy coordination, open structure participation (empowerment, inclusiveness)
  • Accountability (report card?), FGDC to define measures of success
  • Best practices, policy and role definition, promulgation of standards


  • Agency proactively promotes NSDI vision, standards, and best practices with its state and local partners to foster nationwide adoption - formal integration of NSDI concepts in grants and programs
  • * Local agencies have to understand and value NSDI goals through leadership from Federal agencies
  • Center of excellence to coordinate geospatial across the agency - procurements, portal development, software development, grants
  • Training, education, publications coordination related to GIS/geospatial activities
  • Greatest danger is that everyone "does his own thing" and chaos results
  • Decision makers need to understand value of geospatial activities to agency through performance measures (aka cost and benefits of participation); FGDC can help with this
  • Expose and integrate business processes within an agency, then across agencies
  • Geospatial representatives should be more proactive in penetrating the agency - all layers as well as across programs

Bold Steps Brainstorming

  • FACA extension should be requested so we are not just a federal organization ( Federal Friendly Geographic Data Committee)
  • Review governance and charters of subcommittees and working groups; some might need to be deleted
  • Is looking at GOS and FCDS and future a bold step?
  • Can FGDC achieve its goals? We've simplified standards for framework. Rules to participate should not be onerous.
  • "Portability" of standards should be simple within the context of the agency. Templates, ease of adoption is important. Standards have the appearance of being onerous - "ships in volume" concept
  • Build trust relationships between organizations who consume or build data
  • Implement not just data content, but also the service standards
  • SLAs for providing reliable services (e.g., 24/7 access to reliable, accurate framework data)
  • Demonstrate what we mean on our value through performance measures illustrated in case studies
  • After clarity on GOS, FGDC, and National Map, FGDC should update strategic plan

Bold Steps Priorities

  • FACA exemption
  • Review governance and charters of FGDC subcommittees and working groups
  • Build trust relationships
  • Implement not just data content, but service standards
  • SLAs for reliable services
  • Value through case studies
  • New FGDC Strategic Plan

Team 5: NSDI in 2014 (Discussion Leader - Leslie Wollack)

  • NSDI self-sustaining through community - de-centralized
  • Group to bless standards/interoperability
  • Federal agency/central body assuring accuracy - regulation caveat data
  • Seamless access to national data set vertical/horizontal; data repository
  • Reduce redundancy
  • Transparent
  • Historical data kept for future uses and accessible
  • National effort rather than Federal
  • Encourage local involvement; maintain own data
  • Use NSDI to meet common threads
  • Agencies contribute because there is a defined way to participate
  • Agreed upon roles and responsibilities
  • Trust among agencies/co-dependency
  • Involve foreign governments
  • NSDI serves as base for national interest; infrastructure provided with minimum level of information - not all things to all people
  • NSDI provides basis/mechanism for putting in any data/catalogue
  • NSDI best practice
  • NSDI provides beginning point
  • Allows coordinated response to multi-jurisdictional issues
  • NSDI model for providing seamless access
  • "Have's" provide services to "have nots"
  • FGDC assures commitments under A-16 in terms of data responsibilities
  • Executive agency for NSDI with teeth
  • Full involvement cannot work without OMB
  • Planned investments not necessarily identified as geospatial
  • Geospatial investment identified as integral to function
  • New model for how we account for expenses and expenditures
  • Secretariat vs. while FGDC; FGDC should:
    • Endorse standards
    • Coordinate government contribution at all levels
    • Resources to develop tools/education and outreach, participation
    • Coordinating and advertising tools for greater good
    • Identify holes/gaps
    • Make administration/legislators aware of holes/gaps
    • Ensure compliance and commitments of agencies
    • Foster maintenance and use of NSDI
    • FGDC assesses who has skills, expertise

Bold Steps Brainstorming:

  • Coordinate all major geospatial activities now!
  • Give FGDC teeth
  • Forget consensus; everyone has input into decision and once there is agreement, all move forward in same direction
  • Develop performance measures
  • Win decision maker support through showing compliance with regulation or Return on Investment
  • OMB proactive
    • Exposes agencies by taking this approach
    • OMB the club - good cop/bad cop
  • Establish the business case
  • Working examples - NSDI operational example
  • Show one framework layer operational - build content
  • Who has integrating role? Large discussion to decide who has the integrating role
  • Business case - what are the societal benefits and performance measures? Each agency makes case; FGDC pulls examples together
  • FGDC defines framework - publish and not change for defined period; currently too vague

Each group was asked to recommend only 3 BOLD STEPS.

  • Establish the business case as an FGDC-sponsored activity which defines societal benefits & performance measures with agency input
  • Seek authority for FGDC to assure compliance with NSDI goals
  • Build content according to published framework
  • Establish a National Geo Data Council
  • Alternative to Exhibit 300
  • Re-launch NSDI
  • Define specific national goals
  • Plan of attack (MOU performance metrics)
  • Re-evaluate/redefine structure of FGDC
  • Define a National Architecture
  • NSDI-friendly legislation
  • Identify NSDI expectations (really)
  • FACA Exemption
  • Revise governance & charters of FGDC subcommittees and working groups
  • Implement not just data content, but service standards

Meeting Evaluation - positives - small groups, action items, puzzles, 1/2-day format, seating arrangement, the room, and great dynamics. Negatives - acoustics.

The summary of the meeting results is represented on the Bold Steps Graphic, which accompanies these notes.

The meeting was adjourned at 12:00 p.m. EST.