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GAO report reveals duplication in collection of geospatial data

US: A new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) revealed lack of coordination between departments is resulting in costly duplication and millions of wasted tax dollars. While the report said the extent of duplication in geospatial investments is unknown, it said billions of dollars are being spent across the federal government on duplicative geospatial investments.

Further, “many mission-critical applications, such as those used to respond to natural disasters-floods, hurricanes, and fires-depend on geospatial information to protect lives and property. Thus, it is important that the data acquired to support these critical functions be done in a timely and coordinated manner, with minimal duplication,” the report concluded.

The government has tried to coordinate the use of geographically-related data by setting up the Federal Geographic Data Committee, under the direction of the Office of Management and Budget. One of the FGDC”s tasks was to create a metadata standard to mark geospatial information and a clearinghouse to store and disseminate it.

But the report revealed that agencies that collect and use such data are not using the clearinghouse to identify geospatial investments, coordinate activities and avoid duplication.

Additionally, the report said the FGDC”s master plan is missing key elements, such as performance measurements for many of its defined goals.

The three departments responsible for implementing and managing geospatial information government-wide – Commerce, Transportation and Interior – have only put some of the steps needed for national geospatial data sharing into effect.

“Unless OMB, the FGDC and federal departments and agencies decide that coordinating geospatial investments is a priority, the situation is likely to continue,” the report said.

To improve coordination and reduce duplication, the report recommended development of a national strategy to coordinate geospatial information, federal agencies follow federal guidelines to manage geospatial investments and that the OMB develop a mechanism to identify and report on geospatial investments.

Source: AOL