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National Spatial Data Infrastructure Partnership Programs: Rethinking the Focus
that small-scale efforts designed to attract attention to the NSDI need to give way to larger-scale production efforts. Some research indicates that fewer than half of the local government entities in the United States are even aware of the meaning of NSDI. This suggests that there is a great deal of work remains to be done. The FGDC should be encouraged to get the word out through as many venues as possible and provide clear examples of how to participate and the benefits that can be gained.
This study evaluated the partnership programs against four goals. One of these, improving access to geospatial data, has been greatly aided by the development of the Internet and World Wide Web, and the FGDC was quick to exploit the advantages of these technologies in the development of the National Geospatial Data Clearinghouse. We conclude that the programs have been very successful in achieving this third goal.
However, with respect to the other goals of the specific FGDC partnership programs, we find little evidence that these programs have reduced redundancy in geospatial data creation and maintenance, reduced the costs of geospatial data creation and maintenance, or improved the accuracy of the geospatial data used by the broader community. For all three goals, little evidence has been found to demonstrate conclusively that the concept of the NSDI and its furtherance through partnerships has had any dramatic impact on overcoming the significant institutional barriers that inhibit the development and maintenance of spatial data. Without such evidence, we fear that the momentum established as a result of the missionary efforts during these seven years will dissipate, and that the NSDI will fail to achieve its promise.
In our investigations, we looked for ways of assessing the impacts of the partnership programs using objective indicators and metrics. We found indicators of the level of interest in the NSDI at the state level, as discussed in Chapter 3. But we found a lack of procedures in the FGDC for long-term monitoring of the progress of NSDI. Such procedures would be of great value in assessing whether the NSDI program succeeds in moving beyond the missionary phase, and in arguing for future funding allocations. Accordingly, the committee recommends that the FGDC develop metrics that can be used to monitor long-term progress in the adoption of the principles and programs of the NSDI among agencies at all levels of govern-