would be to rigorously evaluate specific approaches to data capture and data update. These experiments could be based on the use of new technology or an evaluation of protocols and procedures. The selected partners would be evaluated on their willingness to establish the capabilities to measure cost savings, data access improvements, and data accuracy increases, etc. The goal of these activities would be to take the technological and organizational steps required to put in place a complete Framework data production system, and then to run this system for sufficient time to obtain measurable and statistically significant assessment results. If the data production activity is determined to be a success, based on the criteria listed above, the goal would be to then clone the system nationwide, to the degree appropriate. Each of the partnership projects would be evaluated against the four key criteria: reduced redundancy, reduced costs, improved access, and improved accuracy. Not only should partnership programs explicitly require the capture of these factors on a before-and-after basis, but also steps need to be taken to assist non-federal organizations to take advantage of proven methods to achieve these goals. Once the assessment results indicate that these goals have been achieved, the technological and organizational or other aspects of a production system would be disseminated to the community. This process would significantly enhance the ability of non-federal organizations to produce and maintain Framework data in a manner that has been shown to be effective and efficient (e.g., soil data in Minnesota; see Box 4 below). The FGDC could also identify additional successful case studies where federal funding has resulted in partnerships that have benefited both the federal and non-federal organization. These case studies could be compiled into a “cookbook” that would provide guidance to others. A good example of such a resource is the recently completed NSDI Communications Toolkit. These communication tools were developed through a cooperative partnership between the National States Geographic Information Council (NSGIC) and the FGDC (available at: http://www.fgdc.gov/nsdi/docs/communications/index.html).
Of equal importance is the development of software tools that facilitate the integration of data from a variety of sources. In fact, the vendor community has made remarkable progress in this area. Efforts such as Microsoft’s Terraserver clearly demonstrate that users can