Geospatial Information:

Better Coordination and Oversight Could Help Reduce Duplicative Investments

GAO-04-824T: Published: Jun 23, 2004. Publicly Released: Jun 23, 2004.

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The collection, maintenance, and use of location-based (geospatial) information are essential to federal agencies carrying out their missions. Geographic information systems (GIS) are critical elements used in the areas of homeland security, healthcare, natural resources conservation, and countless other applications. GAO was asked to review the extent to which the federal government is coordinating the efficient sharing of geospatial assets, including through Office of Management and Budget (OMB) oversight. GAO's report on this matter, Geospatial Information: Better Coordination Needed to Identify and Reduce Duplicative Investments (GAO-04-703), is being released today. GAO's testimony focuses on the extent to which the federal government is coordinating the sharing of geospatial assets, including through oversight measures in place at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), in order to identify and reduce redundancies in geospatial data and systems.

OMB, cross-government committees, and individual federal agencies have taken actions to coordinate geospatial investments across agencies and with state and local governments. However, these efforts have not been fully successful due to (1) a complete and up-to-date strategic plan is missing. The existing strategic plan for coordinating national geospatial resources and activities is out of date and lacks specific measures for identifying and reducing redundancies, (2) federal agencies are not consistently complying with OMB direction to coordinate their investments, and (3) OMB's oversight methods have not been effective in identifying or eliminating instances of duplication. This has resulted from OMB not collecting consistent, key investment information from all agencies. Consequently, agencies continue to independently acquire and maintain potentially duplicative systems. This costly practice is likely to continue unless coordination is significantly improved.

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