The idea of a Center of Excellence for Geospatial Information Science (CEGIS) was first proposed by McMahon et al. (2005) in a report that describes a science strategy for geographic research, including GIScience, at the USGS between 2005 and 2015. CEGIS was initiated by the Associate Director for Geospatial Information in 2006.

CEGIS is housed within the National Geospatial Program Office (NGPO). The NGPO was created in 2004 when the USGS reorganized its geospatial information programs to better invest in technology and partnerships aimed at modernizing its collection, management, processing, updating, and delivery of geospatial information.1 The major elements of USGS’s geospatial programs and services unified under NGPO include The National Map, the National Atlas of the United States of America®, the Federal Geographic Data Committee secretariat, Geospatial One-Stop, and other geospatial program elements (Figure 1.1). Geospatial information is one of five disciplines within USGS, the others being water, geology, geography, and biology (Figure 1.1).

Among the NGPO’s responsibilities are defining the overall GIScience (see Box 1.1) research agenda and championing GIScience research as a component of USGS's science portfolio. CEGIS undertakes these GIScience research responsibilities. The USGS’s vision for CEGIS is to “conduct, lead, and influence the research and innovative solutions required by the National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI)” (CEGIS, 2006).2 CEGIS’s mission is to “conduct, support, and collaborate in research to address critical Geographic Information Science questions of importance to the USGS and to the broader geospatial community” and “as an outgrowth of and complement to this research program, CEGIS will support and collaborate in technological innovations that further the implementation of the NSDI” (CEGIS, 2006).




The NSDI is the means to assemble geographic information that describes the arrangement and attributes of features and phenomena on the Earth. The infrastructure includes the materials, technology, and people necessary to acquire, process, store, and distribute such information to meet a variety of needs (NRC, 1993).

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