involved in collecting these data for a variety of intended uses. Integration of such diverse databases into an effective and compatible data and information management system is not a trivial task.
In 1982, the General Accounting Office reported concerns that federal agencies involved in digital cartographic data collection were collecting data without regard to the need for standards, were duplicating each others' efforts, and were not coordinating their efforts (GAO 1982). In 1983, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) established the Federal Interagency Coordination Committee on Digital Cartography (FICCDC). The primary duties of the committee were to facilitate exchange of cartographic data, coordinate activities, develop data standards, determine requirements for data, and report to OMB annually.
Through the 1980s, the federal government's, as well as the nation's, use of geographic information systems and demand for other categories of digital spatial data grew. The OMB and FICCDC recognized this trend, and developed a revised OMB Circular A-16 (OMB 1990) to establish a process to foster the development of a national spatial framework for an information-based society. This framework will include the participation of federal, state, and local governments, and the private sector.
The circular established the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) to promote the coordinated development, use, sharing, and dissemination of surveying, mapping, and related spatial data. The FGDC's responsibilities include interagency coordination of data collection and sharing, and the establishment of federal standards for geographic data exchange, content, and quality. Fourteen departments and independent agencies are members of the FGDC, and additional agencies participate on FGDC subcommittees and working groups.
The circular also assigns government-wide coordination leadership responsibilities to federal departments for data categories. Agencies within the lead departments chair FGDC subcommittees that assist in coordination and development of national data standards with the participation of the communities interested in those data categories. The categories and lead agencies are listed in Table 4.1. Additional data categories will be added as the need and opportunity arise. In addition, the FGDC works with the Interagency Advisory Committee on Water Data for coordinate spatial water data issues.
The exchange of data between different computer systems is often difficult and sometimes impossible. Thus, the FICCDC and FGDC, in cooperation with the American Congress on Surveying and Mapping, developed a standard for exchange of geographic data (Mollering 1988), which has since been adopted as a federal information processing standard (FIPS 173) (NIST 1992). The Spatial Data Transfer Standard is described in Box 4.1.
Circular A-16 sets a long range objective of developing an integrated