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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).
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).
- 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 — that is, themes identified in Circular A-16 as critical for many geospatial applications.
- Standards. Geospatial standards provide common and repeatable rules or guidelines for the development, documentation, and exchange of geospatial datasets.
- Metadata. Metadata are information about datasets, such as content, source, accuracy, method of collection, and point-of-contact. Metadata are used to facilitate the search of and access to datasets within a data library or clearinghouse, and enable potential users to determine the data's applicability for their use.
- National Spatial Data Clearinghouse. The National Spatial Data Clearinghouse is intended to be a centralized geospatial metadata repository that contains geospatial metadata records from federal agencies, state and local governments, and academic and private sector organizations that can be searched to determine whether needed geospatial data exist and can be shared. Federal agencies are required to identify their existing and planned geospatial investments in the clearinghouse, and search the clearinghouse for cost-saving opportunities before acquiring geospatial data. In 2003, the FGDC created the Geospatial One-Stop to provide "one-stop" access to geospatial metadata from a centralized database and search function. In October 2011, the Geospatial One-Stop was retired, and the FGDC initiated a pilot project, known as the Geospatial Platform, which is envisioned to provide shared and trusted geospatial data, services, and applications for use by government agencies, their partners, and the public. The Department of the Interior is the managing partner of the Geospatial Platform. As of August 2012, there were approximately 835,000 geospatial metadata records in the central repository, of which about 373,000 were from federal sources. Users can search the metadata repository through two primary portals: geo.data.gov and the Geospatial Platform. The General Services Administration is responsible for managing the clearinghouse database and the associated web portal geo.data.gov.
- 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. 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.
- ↑ According to FGDC officials, there are seven framework themes, with two of the themes having two parts.
- ↑ The repository can also be searched using data.gov; however, the site automatically redirects the user to geo.data.gov.
- ↑ See Issuance of OMB Circular A-16 Supplemental Guidance.
- Geospatial Information and Geographic Information Systems (GIS): An Overview for Congress, at 13.
- Geospatial Information: OMB and Agencies Need to Make Coordination a Priority to Reduce Duplication, at 7-8.
- Issues and Challenges for Federal Geospatial Information, at 1 n.3.