Participants at the National States Geographic Information Council (NSGIC) Annual Conference cheered at the news that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization bill passed the Senate this morning.
The legislation contains provisions critical to building the national spatial data infrastructure by establishing a clear vision, assigning responsibility, providing authority and ensuring oversight of federal activities by Congress. The bill includes language previously winding its way through both houses as a standalone bill called the Geospatial Data Act.
“This is a major win for the entire geospatial community. We thank and commend our nation’s lawmakers for enacting this meaningful legislation,” said Dan Ross, geospatial information chief for the state of Minnesota and NSGIC president. “NSGIC members coordinate geospatial policy, technologies, and services across our states. We have the unique perspective of seeing across states - and, together, across the nation - to evaluate the substantial and significant unmet needs stemming from a failure to harness and coordinate efforts. ”
The bill, having cleared both the House and the Senate, will now be sent to the White House to be signed into law.
“The Geospatial Data Act has been a top legislative priority for NSGIC for several years. We have worked with state governments, Congressional offices, federal agencies, and many other stakeholder groups committed to building more resilient communities by ensuring they will have access to the consistent high-quality data they need to do their jobs,” said Molly Schar, NSGIC’s executive director.
“Map-based digital information is critical to government work from transportation to natural resources to homeland security. We need an efficiency and accountability framework to build, sustain, and share geographic data assets for the entire nation,” she said.
The new law will impact the framework data layers and other resources that constitute the national spatial data infrastructure:
Codify the existing executive orders and other guidance documents that direct work by the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC)
Provide FGDC with the authority to make other agencies follow existing common sense rules
Provide Congressional oversight over geospatial activities of FGDC members and other agencies
Require reporting that will allow Congress to track progress on the national spatial data infrastructure and ensure funding is spent wisely
Provide a great deal more clout to input developed by the multi-sector membership of the National Geospatial Advisory Committee (NGAC) and require the FGDC to address NGAC’s concerns — not just dictate what NGAC should work on
Require federal agencies to coordinate and work in partnership with other federal agencies, agencies of state, tribal and local governments, institutions of higher education, and the private sector to efficiently and cost-effectively collect, integrate, maintain, disseminate and preserve geospatial data
“NSGIC and our members are ready to support the implementation of the geospatial provisions of H.R. 302,” said Schar. “We’re looking forward to working with our colleagues in other geospatial organizations, as well as state and federal governments. At the end of the day, this is a law that will exponentially benefit taxpayers.”