A bill to establish the National Geospatial Technology Administration
A legislative hearing was recently held to establish the National Geospatial Technology Administration within the United States Geological Survey to “enhance the use of geospatial data, products, technology, and services, to increase the economy and efficiency of Federal geospatial activities” and for other purposes. The associated proposed bill, H.R. 1604, is to improve federal land management by requiring the Secretary of the Interior to develop a multipurpose cadastre of Federal real property and identify “inaccurate, duplicate, and out-of-date Federal land inventories, and for other purposes.” For the full text of these bills, see this link at the Library of Congress.
While I wholeheartedly agree with the “plain language” title of the bill, which is “Map It Once, Use It Many Times”, I am wary of yet another administrative body created that is concerned about spatial data. I have great respect for the USGS as a former employee but wonder how it would accomplish this with their limited staff resources. But I am at the same time hopeful that if enacted, that this would serve to improve decision making at all levels of government, academia, nonprofit organizations, and in private enterprise by the coordination and dissemination of geospatial data. In particular, as Jill Clark and I have written about in this blog and in our book, if some useful data portals could be established, and in particular, a reworking and expansion of the National Map portal, we would, in a word, rejoice.
The bill details 10 data layers to be included in a “national geospatial database”. I was encouraged by seeing text in the bill allowing for acquiring data from commercial sources as I think that partnerships are critical. I wonder how such data could be distributed to GIS analysts and if so, the cost and any restrictions in doing so. I also liked seeing the language in the bill that encourages private enterprise, and also that which encouraged geospatial research and development. Also encouraging was the hearing (included in the link above) on H.R. 916 to improve federal land management and conservation by identifying inaccurate or duplicate federal land inventories. Time will tell, and these two bills are worth keeping track of.