Citation Edit

Office of Management and Budget, Coordination of Geographic Information and Related Spatial Data Activities (OMB Circular No. A-16) (originally issued in 1953, then revised in 1967, 1990, and 2002) (full-text).

Overview Edit

This Circular provided direction for federal agencies that produce, maintain or use spatial data either directly or indirectly in the fulfillment of their mission. This Circular established a coordinated approach to electronically develop the National Spatial Data Infrastructure and established the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC).

The circular established the following five components of the NSDI and described how these components were to be implemented:

  • Data themes. Data themes are topics of national significance, such as transportation, which includes all modes of travel (e.g., road and rail data). The Circular currently identifies 34 data themes and identifies the "lead" agency or agencies for each theme. Each data theme is to be comprised of one or more electronic data records, known as datasets. Of the 34 themes, 9 are identified as "framework" themes[1] — that is, themes identified in Circular A-16 as critical for many geospatial applications.
  • Partnerships. Partnerships are efforts aimed at involving all stakeholders (e.g., federal, tribal, state, local government, and academic institutions) in the development of the NSDI.

In November 2010, OMB issued supplemental guidance specifically regarding how agencies are to manage data themes.[3] This supplemental guidance expands upon and clarifies some of the language and responsibilities contained in OMB Circular A-16 in order to facilitate the adoption and implementation of a geospatial asset management capability.

Historical background Edit

OMB Circular No. A-16 was first issued in 1953 to ensure that federal surveying and mapping activities met the needs of federal and state agencies and the general public and to avoid duplication of effort. In 1967, the Circular was revised and included a section on responsibilities for coordination among three federal departments: Department of the Interior, Department of Commerce, and Department of State.

In 1990, the Circular was revised again and expanded beyond just surveying and mapping to include related geospatial data activities. The 1990 revision also established the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC). The purpose of the FGDC was to promote the coordinated use, sharing, and dissemination of geospatial data nationwide.

The 2002 revision adding the Deputy Director of Management at OMB as the vice-chair of the FGDC to serve with the Secretary of the Interior, who chairs the committee.

References Edit

  1. According to FGDC officials, there are seven framework themes, with two of the themes having two parts.
  2. The repository can also be searched using; however, the site automatically redirects the user to
  3. See Issuance of OMB Circular A-16 Supplemental Guidance.

Sources Edit

See also Edit

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