M-02-15, Revision of OMB Circular A-16

August 15, 2002




Mitchell E. Daniels, Jr. image of Daniel's initials

SUBJECT: Revision of OMB Circular A-16

This memorandum announces the latest revision of OMB Circular A-16: Coordination of Geographic Information and Related Spatial Data Activities.

What is OMB Circular A-16?

Circular A-16 provides a government-wide approach to electronic development and management of spatial data, technology, standards, resources, and policies under the National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI). The Circular applies to your agency if it collects, produces, acquires, maintains, distributes, uses, or archives analog or digital spatial data.

What are the benefits of the Circular?

Implementing this Circular will improve the availability and quality of spatial data, help federal agencies avoid redundant expenditures, and leverage partnerships with other levels of government and sectors of society. These factors are crucial for developing E-Government -- one of five elements of the President's Management Agenda. Due to the importance of spatial data activities, OMB assumes a leadership role under the Circular as Vice Chair of the Federal Geographic Data Committee.

What are the significant changes to the Circular?

  • Describes agency roles and responsibilities for developing the NSDI.
  • Links the management of geographic assets to budget and performance.
  • Assigns lead agencies for specific data layers of the NSDI (see Appendix E).

What does the Circular require of your agency?

The Circular updates federal responsibilities in the management of geographic information and spatial data assets. Specifically, your agency or department is required to:

  • Implement Federal Geographic Data Committee approved data standards.
  • Document existing spatial data holdings through an online data clearinghouse.
  • Demonstrate agency performance for maintaining spatial data assets.
  • Support interoperable software applications.
  • Search for data or coordinate with partners before acquiring data.  

Please ensure that your agency or department understands and follows the guidance in the Circular. You may direct any questions about this Circular to your OMB Resource Management Office.