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June 10, 2003

Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee,

Thank you for the opportunity to appear before the Subcommittee to discuss efforts by the Federal government to consolidate and improve utilization of geospatial information. Because geospatial data is so critical to the business of government, I welcome the opportunity to inform you of the Administration’s efforts on this very important issue.

Administration’s Electronic Government Strategy

Delivering better results for the citizen is at the heart of the Administration’s Electronic Government vision. As I have previously testified before this committee, Expanding Electronic Government, or “E-Government,” is one of the five key elements of the President’s Management Agenda. This effort is designed to make better use of information technology (IT) investments to eliminate billions of dollars of wasteful federal spending, reduce government’s paperwork burden on citizens and businesses, and improve government responsiveness to citizens.

The President’s 24 E-Government initiatives fall into four citizen centered groups: Government to Government (G2G), Government to Business (G2B), Government to Citizen (G2C), and Internal Effectiveness and Efficiency (IEE). The G2G segment is focused on making it easier for states and localities to meet reporting requirements, while promoting better performance in integrated service delivery. During early stages of developing our E-Government strategy we set up focus groups with state and local officials. Repeatedly, state and local representatives told us that geospatial information supported their most critical functions.

However, we were told that finding and obtaining Federal geospatial data was overly burdensome. State and local GIS users could spend months doing Internet searches at Federal web sites, making phone calls, and writing letters to Federal agencies in search of essential geospatial data. Ironically, the data they desperately need is often necessary to deliver a Federal service or comply with a Federal regulation.

Our discussions led to the selection of the Geospatial One-Stop as one of the President’s 24 E-Government initiatives. Because of its importance to state and local governments the Geospatial One-Stop is one of the five G2G initiatives, and it is our focal point for Federal geospatial consolidation efforts.

Consolidation of Geospatial Assets

Indeed, nearly every government program uses geospatial technology in some capacity. However not every program needs to buy its own data and build its own systems. In fact, strategic coordination and Internet technologies enable organizations to share and leverage these investments across agencies, and even across levels of government.

Redundancies trigger multiple problems and opportunities.

  1. Clearly, from a resource perspective we cannot afford to buy the same data set over and over again. We have significant opportunities to buy data once, and use it many times instead of buying the same data over and over.

  2. Redundant data sets and geospatial tools also result in confusion and excess spending by our partners. State and local governments do not have time or resources needed to integrate disparate data sets, answer multiple geospatial surveys and follow the various geospatial related programs. By consolidating around the Geospatial One-Stop we have an opportunity to fuse data from multiple organizations and streamline the various geospatial programs.

  3. Finally, overlapping and disparate geospatial assets restrict multi-agency or multi-jurisdiction collaboration, which is critical for homeland security.

Obviously, efforts to consolidate and rationalize assets across organizations will require significant coordination, planning, and leadership. A governance model and set of guiding principles is described in the recently revised OMB Circular A-16 “Coordination of Geographic Information and Related Spatial Data Activities.” This Circular describes the effective and economical use and management of geospatial data assets in the digital environment for the benefit of the government and the nation. In addition, OMB and the CIO Council will use the Federal Enterprise Architecture to implement and enforce these principles.

Enterprise Architectures

The strategic management of geospatial assets will be accomplished through a robust and mature Enterprise Architecture. An EA describes the organization’s business processes, data, technology and how it performs its work. By aligning organizations, business processes, information flows, and technology, EA tools are used to build a blueprint for improving efficiency and effectiveness. OMB operates the Federal Enterprise Architecture Program Management Office, created last year, to work with Federal agencies in developing a government-wide EA.

OMB has nearly completed work on the first versions of the Data and Information Reference Model (DRM). The DRM will provide a consistent framework to characterize and describe the data that supports Federal business lines. This will promote interoperability, as well as the horizontal and vertical sharing of information. Geospatial information has been targeted as one of the first data sets to be modeled.

Also, consistent with the FEA and new security guidelines, as we prepare to launch the Geospatial One Stop, we will ensure that appropriate access controls have been identified and implemented to safeguard the aggregation of geospatial data.

Conclusion and Next Steps

I know that Mr. Cameron will go into much greater detail about the Geospatial One-Stop project. I wanted to provide you with the framework we are using to manage and coordinate geospatial assets across the Federal enterprise. Finally, I would like to leave you with some of the performance targets we will hit this year as a result of these coordinated efforts. In the next year we will:

  1. Launch the geospatial one-stop portal with an initial 1,000 data sets and increase the amount of information on the portal by twenty percent each month thereafter.

  2. Have ten Federal partners who will provide resources to help run the portal.

  3. Develop ten geospatial data cost sharing partnerships between Federal, state or local governments.

  4. Disseminate 5000 data sets via the Geospatial One Stop during the first quarter of operation, and increase data sharing by 10% each month thereafter.

  5. Develop and deploy standards for twelve critical geospatial data layers.