Over the past decade the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the nation’s primary mapping agency, has faced significant challenges. Topographic mapping in paper form, which for decades was the Mapping Division’s bread and butter product, fell into disfavor as the use of digital data grew predominate. Funding reductions imposed by congress and the drying-up of cooperative funds from states over time has forced the Survey to periodically readjust and reorganize, and to attempt to retrain and downsize its workforce.
More recently, the Survey seemed to be revitalized and invigorated over the prospect of The National Map. However, to many outside the federal government confusion abounds over the relationship and necessity of various initiatives being promoted by the agency such as The National Map, Geospatial One-Stop, and the role of the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC).
In a continuing effort to better unify the major elements of the Survey’s geospatial programs, Director Chip Groat recently announced a number of changes effective September 1:
- The Geographic Information Office will be renamed the Geospatial Information Office (GIO).
- The Geographic Information Officer position will be titled Associate Director for Geospatial Information.
- A new National Geospatial Programs Office (NGPO) will be established within the GIO.
A single office, the NGPO will oversee geospatial programs such as The National Map, the One-Stop project and the FGDC. In his announcement, Groat indicated that the changes were the result of discussions with constituent groups on how best to meet their needs. Obviously, only the passage of time will tell us whether this latest reorganization plan will allow USGS to more effectively deal with the many challenges it faces, and whether it improves its cooperative relationships with others across the country.