Senate and House bills were reintroduced recently that would require standardization of agency geospatial data across the federal government. The Geospatial Data Act, introduced by Sens. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and Mark Warner, D-Va., in the Senate and Reps. Bruce Westerman, R-Ark., and Seth Moulton, D-Mass., would prevent duplicative data purchases by federal agencies and modernize the government’s collection of that data.

“The Geospatial Data Act will save taxpayer dollars, increase government efficiency and unlock innovation in the public and private sectors,” Moulton said. “It is time to bring government into the 21st century. I am proud to be part of this bipartisan effort that embraces new and innovative ways to use and share data.”

The bill was originally introduced in the Senate in May but was updated to omit two later sections for the reintroduction.

“Technology is advancing at a rapid rate. Advances in geospatial technology have revolutionized transportation, forestry and an ever-growing list of other industries,” Westerman said. “The benefits of geospatial technology are truly untold. Our federal agencies use geospatial data, but often different agencies acquire duplicative information and waste precious taxpayer resources in the process. After hearing feedback from industry leaders, the Geospatial Data Act was reintroduced today to streamline the collection of this data across the federal government. This bill will save money, improve information accuracy and provide a more modern system for collecting and sharing geospatial data.”

The bills would continue the Federal Geographic Data Committee and support the creation of a National Spatial Data Infrastructure, while also requiring agencies covered by the bill to report annually on their progress to the FGDC. The bills would also require the FGDC to send a report to Congress every two years on agency progress.

The legislation was shaped by members of the American Association of Geographers and has received industry support from the American Geosciences Institute, Cartography and Geographic Information Society, Google, Tesla and spatial analytics software company Esri.

“Esri has a long history of supporting the GIS community and working to make sure their users’ needs are heard. We applaud their leadership in supporting S. 2128 and H.R. 4395, and look forward to continuing to work with them as this important legislation makes its way through Congress,” said Douglas Richardson, executive director of the AAG.

“We commend the efforts of GDA’s sponsors along with the AAG, which has taken a leading role in shaping this bill,” said Jack Dangermond, Esri founder and president. “This is a significant piece of legislation to address how geospatial information is organized and disseminated and an indication that our industry continues to thrive. We appreciate the leadership from AAG in bringing the community together to shape legislation that works for all of us.”

The legislation has been referred to the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation in the Senate and the Committees on Science, Space and Technology and Oversight and Government Reform in the House.

Jessie Bur covers the federal workforce and the changes most likely to impact government employees.

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