Reps. Westerman and Moulton Re-Introduce Bipartisan Geospatial Data Act

November 15, 2017
Press Release

WASHINGTON – Congressman Bruce Westerman (AR-04) on Wednesday (November 15) re-introduced the bipartisan Geospatial Data Act (H.R. 4395). The bill, co-sponsored by Congressman Seth Moulton (MA-06), would prevent duplicative data purchases by federal agencies and modernize the collection of said data, which would save an untold amount of the American taxpayers’ money.

“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 re-introduced 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 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.”

This legislation is supported by the American Association of Geographers (AAG), American Geosciences Institute (AGI), Association of Research Libraries (ARL), Cartography and Geographic Information Society (CaGIS), GIS Certification Institute (GISCI), Geographic and Land Information Society (GLIS), Google, Tesla, United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation (USGIF), University Consortium for Geographic Information Science (UCGIS), Urban and Regional Information Systems Association (URISA), and Women in GIS (WiGIS).

CRS Summary (.pdf)

The legislation intended as a substitute for the Geospatial Data Act of 2017 (S. 1253) is identical in most respects to S. 1253, which was introduced on May 25, 2017.1 Both S. 1253 and the substitute legislation would codify aspects of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular A-16, authorizing many of its existing components, and modifying or expanding upon other aspects. For example, both bills would continue the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) and support the current goal of creating a National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI). Both bills also would add a requirement for annual performance reporting from each of the covered agencies to the FGDC, and would require a summary and evaluation by the FGDC of each agency in fulfilling the responsibilities listed in the legislation for the covered agencies. The annual summaries and evaluations would be made available to the National Geospatial Advisory Committee (NGAC), and the FGDC would be directed to respond to comments from NGAC. Further, the FGDC would be required to make available to Congress, not less than every two years, a report summarizing and evaluating agency performance, comments from NGAC, responses to those comments, and responses to comments from the covered agencies themselves.

The substitute legislation differs from the original bill primarily by omitting the last two sections of S. 1253, sections 11 and 12. Section 11 of S. 1253 would address use of the private sector to provide geospatial data and services.4 Section 12 of S. 1253 describes the relationship of the legislation to state laws regarding performance of services of a surveying, mapping, or geospatial nature.