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DOT Is Making Progress Toward Fulfilling the Requirements of the Geospatial Data Act of 2018

Required by the Geospatial Data Act of 2018
Project ID: 
IT2021001
What We Looked At
Geospatial data contain information on locations on Earth, such as location identifiers and boundary characteristics. Transportation related geospatial data include instrument-flight-rule navigation charts and maps of pipeline inspection boundaries. In October 2018, Congress passed the Geospatial Data Act (GDA) on the management of the National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI). NSDI includes 17 geospatial data themes, including a transportation theme. The act requires inspectors general of covered agencies to report to Congress on their agencies’ geospatial data. Our audit objective was to assess DOT’s progress in fulfilling the act’s requirements. Specifically, we reviewed the Department’s status in implementing its responsibilities (1) as a lead covered agency under section 756 and (2) as a covered agency under sections 759(a) and 759(b).
 
What We Found
DOT has implemented two of five responsibilities under section 756—communicating with theme users about data needs and designating a point of contact for the GeoPlatform. It has partially completed a third. DOT has not yet developed standards for the National Geospatial Data Asset (NGDA) in the transportation theme, and does not have complete information about financial resources needed for transportation theme maintenance.
DOT is making progress implementing 11 responsibilities as a covered Agency under section 759(a), with 4 complete and 4 partially complete. For example, DOT is updating its Geospatial Information System Strategic Plan—its strategy for promoting use of geographic information. While it is addressing the act’s reporting requirements under section 759(b), DOT has not collected information needed for an annual report. DOT also does not have a complete inventory of geospatial data assets but is updating its data inventory guidelines, which will explain how Operating Administrations should inventory and verify the accuracy of their geospatial data.
 
Recommendations
DOT concurred with all 13 recommendations to help it comply with the act’s requirements and provided documentation to close 1 recommendation.

Recommendations

Open

Closed

No. 1 to OST

Update the National Geospatial Data Asset (NGDA) Theme plan with the processes to identify, assess, and develop NGDA standards based on the Act.

No. 2 to OST

Develop and implement a process to track the financial resources necessary to manage the National Geospatial Data Asset (NGDA) Transportation data theme.

No. 3 to OST

Develop, publish and implement DOT's strategy for geospatial data-related activities as defined in its Geospatial Information System Strategic Plan.

No. 4 to OST

Work with the Chief Data Officer to verify that all Operating Administrations (OAs) designate an appropriate individual as a geospatial information officer.

No. 5 to OST

Work with Operating Administration (OA) records officers to verify that FAA, FTA, MARAD, NHTSA, OST, and PHMSA allocate appropriate resources to complete file plans and record schedules development activities through submission to the DOT Records Management Office.

No. 6 to OST

Track and monitor FRA's, MARAD's, NHTSA's and PHMSA's allocated resources to meet the responsibilities of effective geospatial data collection, production, and stewardship.

No. 7 to OST

Develop, disseminate, and implement a uniform process for all Operating Administrations to perform a quality review of geospatial data to verify compliance with Department of Transportation's (DOT) information quality guidelines. This process should include a method of ensuring recipients of DOT funds for geospatial data collection meet appropriate quality standards, as well as an assessment of stakeholder and peer reviews in order to validate the quality of all disseminated information.

No. 8 to OST

Update, disseminate and implement Department ofTransportation's internal data inventory policy to address how the Operating Administrations should verify that geospatial data and metadata does not inappropriately disclose personally identified information to external parties and include guidelines on tracking and maintaining geospatial data asset inventory and validating that inventories are complete.

No. 9 to OST

Develop a process to verify that the Operating Administrations are aware of and apply the Department of Transportation Privacy Risk Management Policy, requiring privacy risk management activities to be completed for geospatial information systems prior to next system reauthorization.

No. 10 to OST

Develop and implement a procedure that documents and tracks all responsibilities outlined in the Geospatial Policy on Reducing Duplication are implemented to include Department of Transportation and Operating Administrations' implementation of geospatial clearinghouse searches to validate no duplication of funds.

No. 11 to OST

Develop and maintain a process to verify that all geospatial metadata meets quality standards that strengthen the internal control process to improve the quality of metadata reported on DOT's enterprise data inventory.

No. 12 to OST

Establish, document and implement a process for ongoing monitoring of its strategy for advancing geospatial information and related geospatial data and activities appropriate to its mission in accordance with requirements of the Federal Internal Control Standards.

No. 13 to OST

Working with the Operating Administrations, require that all geospatial information systems maintain authorization status in accordance with departmental cybersecurity policies.