USA – U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) secretary Dirk Kempthorne received a Making a Difference Award at the 2008 ESRI International User Conference (ESRI UC) in San Diego, California. Kempthorne was honored for his leadership in developing geospatial initiatives in the federal government. His contributions include breaking down barriers to data sharing within the department, creating both the National Geospatial Advisory Committee and a geospatial information officer position to oversee the department’s nine bureaus, and making the U.S. Geological Survey’s 35-year archive of Landsat data available online for the public by the end of the year.
This award goes to individuals or organizations that use geographic information systems (GIS) innovatively to significantly change an organization, society, or the environment. ESRI president Jack Dangermond presented Kempthorne with the award, noting, “Secretary Kempthorne deserves this award for his contributions and leadership in taking the nation to the next step in the DOI and the entire federal government.”
Accepting the award on behalf of the 73,000 dedicated employees in the department, Kemphorne said, “The Department of the Interior embodies the theme of this conference. Interior manages 20 percent of the land in the United States and is geography in action.”
Prior to his confirmation as the forty-ninth secretary of the Department of the Interior in 2006, Kempthorne served as governor of Idaho for nearly two terms. As governor, he spent much of his time working to protect natural resources in Idaho and neighboring states. His efforts resulted in better protection for wildlife, including salmon, wolves, and grizzly bears, as well as an improved approach to maintaining forest health and managing wildfires. During his tenure as a U.S. senator from 1993 to 1999, he wrote, negotiated, and won passage of a revision of the federal Safe Drinking Water Act.