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Data coverage is patchy and inconsistent. For example, only a fraction of the counties in the United States have digital parcel data, and few of those who do have it follow a common standard. Remedying this situation requires additional resources. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the Western Governors’ Association are working to remedy this situation, but they struggle with limited resources. BLM has begun to extend this cooperative effort to the eastern states, but it will require even more resources.
Land use information is critical for transportation and other planning, yet there is no federal program to provide this information or to define standards for its collection by state or local government. The creation of standards would be the least expensive approach for the federal government to address. Federal support for collection of land use data in communities with limited resources would be needed
Some federal data could be quite useful for local decision making, but additional effort is required to clarify collection and distribution procedures. The ES202 data are a prime example. Data are often collected without regard to actual work location of employees. The individual state agencies that collect data under federal guidelines have varying understandings of whether these data can be distributed to anyone outside their individual agencies for any purpose.
Federal data programs have to be reviewed and revised because they are incompatible with other federal data collection activities. In particular, the various mode-specific administrations of the U.S. Department of Transportation collect data that are difficult to combine into a general picture of transportation services or needs.
The rules making all data “owned” by the federal government free to all potential users limit the willingness of various public and private entities to share data with the federal government. This is counterproductive to good public decision making. Approaches should be pursued to limit these rules where appropriate.
The federal government is taking advantage of developing technologies for distributing data via the Internet, thereby making them accessible to communities across the country. What is lacking is access to robust models that allow communities to see the implications of alternative transportation alternatives. In part, this is due to the lack of public access to easy-to-use models. A more basic problem is the consensus about which models work best in a particular situation. This underscores the need for greater communication among public, private, and professional sectors. Just as private citizens and other decision makers need models to see and