One-Stop portal won't adequately address data-integration problems, House subcommittee told.

InformationWeek Staff, Contributor

June 11, 2003

2 Min Read

The federal government's Geospatial One-Stop portal, slated to be unveiled next month, won't significantly address data-integration problems related to geographic information systems the government has struggled with for more than a decade, a General Accounting Office official told a House subcommittee on Tuesday. The One-Stop portal is unified national network of geospatial data and systems that will available to federal, state, and local governments and the public.

The government's top IT official, E-government administrator Mark Forman said that as much as half of federal government spending on GIS and geospatial systems is wasted. Forman couldn't say exactly how much money is spent on geospatial systems, but at least 40 agencies have programs for geospatial data collection and usage, costing taxpayers about $4 billion, with as much as 50% of the funding wasted because of duplication of effort, redundant systems, multiple acquisition of the same data, and failure to agree on a common set of data standards, he told the Subcommittee on Technology, Information Policy, Intergovernmental Relationships, and the Census.

A lack of common data standards also is a problem. "While developing and implementing an Internet portal may offer users additional functionality over the existing clearinghouse, unless the underlying geospatial data offered through the portal are standardized across data providers, the additional functionality offered by the portal may be of limited value," said Linda Koontz, GAO's director of information management issues, in prepared testimony.

The Office of Management and Budget has identified 34 data themes as a necessary foundation for a National Spatial Data Infrastructure program, but Geospatial One-Stop doesn't address 27 of the themes, Koontz said. "Before the broader vision of a unified national network of geospatial data and systems can be achieved, standards for all NSDI's foundation data themes will need to be established."

The government faces a tough task in getting the metadata associated with geospatial data. "If the metadata weren't created when the data were originally captured, they could be expensive and time-consuming to generate after the fact, and the agencies may not have resources available for the effort," Koontz said.

Koontz raised a concern that state and municipality participation in the federal portal project might not be as broad as expected, adding that the small group of nonfederal representatives on the portal's board may not be able to speak for the states and thousands of local governments. "Geospatial One-Stop will need to better ensure that it has coordinated with all relevant governmental entities," she said, "and that they understand the initiative and their role in it."

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