Overview of FGDC standards program

Overview of the FGDC standards program


A brief history of FGDC standardization activities

Executive Order 12906 established executive branch leadership through the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) for development of the National Spatial Data Infrastructure and called for development of the National Geospatial Data Clearinghouse, spatial data standards, a National Digital Geospatial Data Framework and partnerships for data acquisition. OMB Circular A-16 (2002) incorporated Executive Order 12906.

The FGDC Standards Working Group was established in the 1990s. The former FGDC standards program manager developed the FGDC standards review and approval process. The FGDC standards review and approval process is based on ISO and ANSI standards processes. It is rigorous, iterative, and well-documented through the FGDC Standards Reference Model and FGDC standards directives. FGDC standards follow a 5-stage, 12-step development, review, and endorsement process to ensure that they are created in an open and consensus-driven manner, with the widest possible community participation, and integrated with existing standards.

FGDC standards highlights


From Executive Order 12906 (Clinton, 1994) :

Beginning 9 months from the date of this order, each agency shall document all new geospatial data it collects or produces, either directly or indirectly, using the standard under development by the FGDC, and make that standardized documentation electronically accessible to the Clearinghouse network.

The FGDC endorsed and published the Content Standard for Digital Geospatial Metadata (CSDGM) Version 1 in 1994, and subsequently revised the CSDGM in 1998. The CSDGM might be considered as the FGDC’s flagship standard, as it was called out in Executive Order 12906. It is the only FGDC-endorsed standard that the FGDC Office of the Secretariat (OS) has maintained, and the OS has a dedicated metadata coordinator. It provided significant input into development of ISO geospatial metadata standards, and Federal agencies are migrating to ISO metadata standards.

For more information about metadata standards, visit GEOSPATIAL METADATA on the FGDC web site.

Geographic information Framework Data Standards

One of the activities of the Geospatial One-Stop (circa 2002) initiative was to develop standards for seven framework data themes that are considered critical for many geospatial applications: Cadastre; Elevation; Geodetic Control; Governmental Units, and Administrative and Statistical Boundaries; Imagery; Hydrology; and Transportation. Development of framework data standards was later spun off from the Geospatial One-Stop initiative.

As the Federal government provided most of the funds for development of the Framework Data Standard and its constituent parts, the FGDC endorsed the standards so that they could be made freely available, with no copyright restrictions.

FGDC-endorsed standards

The FGDC has endorsed over 20 standards that its subcommittees and working groups developed.

The FGDC Steering Committee endorsed 63 standards developed outside the FGDC. These standards play an important role in enabling interoperability. Included are standards from the Open Geospatial ConsortiumISO Technical Committee 211, Geographic information/Geomatics; the InterNational Committee for Information Technology Standards (INCITS) Technical Committee L1, Geographic information systems; and de facto standards.

OMB Circular A-119 (2016) directs Federal agencies to use voluntary consensus standards in lieu of government-unique standards in their procurement and regulatory activities, except where inconsistent with law or otherwise impractical. The FGDC Policy on Recognition of Non-Federally Authored Geographic Information Standards and Specifications (2005) established a mechanism for FGDC recognition of “non-Federally authored standards or specifications that are relevant to the missions and spatial data responsibilities of Federal agencies as set forth in Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular A-16.”

Visit FGDC GEOSPATIAL STANDARDS to see the list of FGDC-endorsed standards.

Engagement with other standard bodies

OMB Circular A-119 also directs Federal agencies to participate in voluntary consensus standards bodies. The global voluntary consensus standards bodies for geospatial standardization bodies are ISO Technical Committee 211 and the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC). INCITS Technical Committee L1 serves as U.S. Technical Advisory Group to ISO Technical Committee 211. The FGDC and its member agencies play/have played leadership roles in INCITS Technical Committee L1, ISO Technical Committee 211, and the OGC.

Beginning 2014, the FGDC engaged with other organizations with interests in geospatial standardization. These organizations are NASA EOSDIS Standards Office (ESO), the National Institute of Science & Technology (NIST), National Information Exchange Model (NIEM) Project Management Office, National Emergency Number Association (NENA), Natural Resources Canada, GEO Standards & Interoperability Forum, and Infrastructure for Spatial Information in Europe (INSPIRE). The FGDC also serves as the representative of the civilian community on the Geospatial-Intelligence Standards Working Group (GWG).