the broader and more ambitious goal of a National Spatial Data Infrastructure1 (NSDI). The NSDI is the work of the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC, 2011), and the USGS is an important contributor to this multi-partner effort. The purpose of this study was specifically to provide an SDI roadmap to support the USGS Science Strategy (USGS, 2007), therefore this report focuses on how an SDI can support science within the agency. By extension, a functional SDI at the USGS will be a key component of the NSDI to support science, analysis, and decision requirements in other federal agencies, state, local, and tribal governments, academe, and the private sector.

The USGS recently dissolved the four core disciplines of water, geology, biology, and geography and reorganized around the missions outlined in the landmark 2007 Science Strategy (USGS, 2007). The reorganization is important for SDI development because it establishes an Associate Directorship for Core Science Systems, which includes the National Geospatial Program. Because the Science Strategy outlines future science directions for the USGS, the present committee adopted the six directions in the Science Strategy—ecosystems, energy and minerals, climate and land-use change, environmental health, water, and natural hazards—as the focus of its report for optimizing an SDI. The members selected for this committee were identified to address each of the directions in the Science Strategy.

There are not likely to be any surprises in our definition of an optimal vision for an SDI at the USGS. Much has been written and debated publicly on the subject, and the agency has recently held workshops to review the concepts. A focus on vision and execution—to define a roadmap as called for in the third item of the Statement of Task (Box S.1)—is the USGS’s primary need with regard to an SDI. Although it is neither appropriate nor feasible for the committee to recommend changes in the organizational structure of the USGS, there are critical elements of successful SDI implementation that pertain to the entire organization that are appropriate to highlight, and these are described in this report.


There is no established, validated process for developing an SDI, and past efforts have produced mixed results. However, past efforts yielded lessons that can provide valuable guidance for the USGS. The committee chose to look at lessons learned in several types of organizations to gain the broadest perspective possible. The committee examined 14 entities in the following five categories: USGS analogues in other countries, multinational organizations, U.S. public and


1Executive Order 12906, published in 1994 and amended in 2003, initiated the development of a coordinated

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine
500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001

Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement