Press Releases

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Washington, DC—Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT), the senior Republican and President Pro Tempore of the US Senate, released the following statement after passage of the Geospatial Data Act (GDA) and a Senate resolution recognizing November 15, 2018, as National GIS Day. 

For several years, Senator Hatch and Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) have worked together to lay a legislative foundation for federal geospatial data management. Their proposals seek to build awareness of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and the critical role that these technologies play in a growing multi-billion-dollar industry.

“2018 has been a banner year in the advancement of bipartisan geospatial policy,” said Hatch. “GIS technologies represent a rapidly growing industry that impacts everything from warfighting missions to emergency response efforts to infrastructure planning. National GIS Day is the perfect time to celebrate the passage of the Geospatial Data Act, which brings Congressional oversight to federal geospatial data acquisition, accounting, and utilization—for the betterment of countless state, local, and national stakeholders.”

“Our resolution designating today as National GIS Day honors the important work done by those in the geospatial community, and the critical role that geospatial data and mapping play in all aspects of our society,” said Warner. “Given the ubiquity of geospatial data and its importance to the federal government, it’s vital that we employ smart, efficient data management policies. The recent passage of our Geospatial Data Act does just that, applying good-governance best practices to how we acquire and use this data, streamlining the processes for the benefit of the American taxpayers.” 

Statements of Support

The bipartisan Geospatial Data Act received widespread support from groups spanning the political spectrum. A coalition of 15 Republican, Democrat, and Independent Senators—as well as over 65 universities, industry groups, trade associations, companies, and state and local stakeholders—endorsed the GDA. 

Jack Dangermond, President of Esri:

"I want to thank Senators Hatch and Warner for their leadership on GIS and geospatial data issues. The Geospatial Data Act will promote improved coordination as Federal agencies work with geospatial data and will ensure greater public access. Parallel to this legislation, emerging technologies such as web GIS and geospatial cloud services will enable the transformation of government,” said Jack Dangermond, Esri president. “Thanks to these important outcomes and others, the Act will save taxpayers millions of dollars and improve the management of our country’s resources while fostering economic growth. Esri will fully support our users and Federal agencies in the work of maximizing the benefits from this legislation."

Brian Raber, President of Management Association of Private Photogrammetric Surveyors (MAPPS):

“Senator Hatch has long been a champion for promoting good government solutions on a bipartisan basis, and the Geospatial Data Act (GDA) is a prime example. The GDA will encourage domestic job growth within the growing geospatial profession by bolstering public-private partnerships, inspire open and transparent government, and will establish a responsible and cost-effective ‘geo’ platform for data-sharing among federal agencies, states and the public.”

Molly Schar, Executive Director of the National States Geographic Information Council:

"This National GIS Day resolution punctuates Congress' strong support for efficient and effective GIS coordination across the country. Map-based digital information is critical to government work from transportation to natural resources to homeland security. For 25 years, the geospatial community has struggled with coordinating acquisition and access of geographic data. A truly national and shared spatial data infrastructure must be built and maintained by multiple levels of government, academia, nonprofits, and the private sector. No single entity has authority over all of those participants. The Geospatial Data Act authorizes the collaborative governance structure to convene all these partners to make decisions and develop direction together. The Geospatial Data Act is a law that will exponentially benefit taxpayers. On behalf of our state government representatives and larger membership, the National States Geographic Information Council offers our great appreciation to Senators Hatch, Warner, and bill co-signers in both Houses for their leadership on this critical issue."   

Susan Gibbons, President of Association of Research Libraries and Deputy Provost at Yale:

The Association of Research Libraries thanks Senators Hatch, Warner, and all of those involved in the passage of this landmark legislation. Once implemented, the Geospatial Data Act will greatly enhance access by researchers, students, and members of the public to a vast array of geospatial data, advancing learning and knowledge creation and promoting open and transparent governmentResearch libraries celebrate National GIS Day as geospatial data is an essential component of research, teaching, and learning in the research and education enterprise.”

Douglas Richardson, Executive Director of the American Association of Geographers (AAG):

"The American Association of Geographers thanks Senators Hatch and Warner for the opportunity to work together to shape and pass the Geospatial Data Act (GDA). This legislation will save US taxpayers millions of dollars as it allows government agencies to better coordinate with one another, to prevent duplication, and to procure geospatial expertise, technology, services, and data from across the full range of the dynamic and rapidly growing US geographic and geospatial community.”  


A geographic information system (GIS) is a framework for gathering, managing, and analyzing data. Rooted in the science of geography, GIS integrates many types of data. It analyzes spatial location and organizes layers of information into visualizations using maps and 3D scenes. With this unique capability, GIS reveals deeper insights into data, such as patterns, relationships, and situations—helping users make smarter decisions.

Quality, up-to date geospatial data and tools are central to citizen access to governmental programs and, in addition, are an important means for federal agencies to interact and communicate with local communities and citizens. Geospatial data and tools also have the potential to save lives, limit damage, and reduce the costs of dealing with emergencies.

Each year, people across the globe celebrate GIS Day in November as part of Geography Awareness Week. GIS Day started in 1999 as an educational event for GIS users to showcase their projects that have real-world applications. Opening their doors to schools, businesses, and the public, GIS users and vendors demonstrate the benefits of GIS and how it makes a difference in our society. Today, GIS Day is recognized globally with events occurring in dozens of countries. 

Geospatial Data Act, Public Law 115-254-- Bipartisan Hatch/Warner legislation, a good-governance bill that will bring structure and Congressional oversight to federal geospatial data spending, accounting, and usage. Text of the GDA can be found on page 583, Title VI, Subtitle F—Geospatial Data, FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018.

The GDA will:

  • Dramatically reduce duplicative spending and, according to the Government Accountability Office, save the federal government billions of dollars
  • Bolster federal emergency response capabilities by enabling smarter, more efficient disaster relief
  • According to the U.S. Geological Survey, bolster strategies for advancing geographic information, infrastructure, and related geospatial data activities that will enhance national security, national defense, and emergency preparedness
  • Improve infrastructure planning nationwide by providing state and local governments with access to higher-quality, more robust data
  • The bill is supported by over 65 universities, industry groups, trade associations, companies, and state and local stakeholders