Geography professor Keith Clarke was recently appointed as one of 13 new members of the National Geospatial Advisory Committee for a three-year term.

The NGAC is an interagency committee that reports to the Federal Geographic Data Committee, which promotes the development and sharing of geographic data nationwide, information on National Spatial Data Infrastructure and recommendations about issues of geospatial policy. It also offers advice for the implementation of the Office of Management and Budget Circular A-16 — designed to coordinate geographic information and related spatial data activities — and Presidential Executive Order 12906, which directs the FGDC to direct government development of the NSDI.

The appointment of the 13 new members, including Clarke, was announced on Monday, Feb. 4. Clarke said he was informed beforehand of his nomination into the position and received hints of the official appointment.

“It wasn’t a total surprise because I’d been tipped off a few weeks before and I’ve been informed when I’ve been nominated,” Clarke said. “I was very honored and very pleased.”

As a member of the NGAC, Clarke is required to travel back and forth to Washington D.C. to sit in subcommittees and submit recommendations to the FGDC. According to Clarke, he has been a part of several similar committees in the past and strives to maintain a balance between committee and teaching duties.

“I try not to let it impact my classes too much,” Clarke said. “I feel that my students get the benefit of me being exposed to the state-of-the-art, new technology and new equipment. I do try and incorporate what I learn into my lectures.”

The NGAC was created in 2008 to advise the U.S. Department of the Interior on topics that require expert knowledge, according to FGDC Executive Director Ivan DeLoatch. Its 30 members come from differing levels of government, academia and private and non-profit sectors, including business establishments and corporations like Microsoft and Google. DeLoatch said this service is important because it provides a spectrum of diverse opinions.

“We’ve been very pleased with the products and the advice we’ve received from them since 2008,” DeLoatch said. “Without them, we’d lose the perspective of the user community and those with different perspectives, especially from the private sector as well as academia.”

According to DeLoatch, members are nominated annually for the NGAC. Approximately 60 to 70 candidates apply annually or biannually, and 10 to 12 are chosen by the Secretary of the Interior to fill membership vacancies.

DeLoatch said Clarke’s extensive experience in the field will prove to be a valuable asset to the committee.

“He’s a well-respected professor,” DeLoatch said. “He has worked exclusively [and] extensively with a number of the people we have appointed to the committee. We are very, very pleased that the Secretary of the Interior has appointed him as a member.”


A version of this article appeared on page 5 of February 19th, 2013’s print edition of the Nexus.