For many years, there have been efforts to create data sharing opportunities among federal agencies and to open up opportunities for partnerships with state and local governments to enhance public efforts in the coordination of the data available for common programs. The Federal Geographic Data Committee has set the stage for several projects in this spirit. Yet challenges remain, including efforts to improve data collection and dissemination and to increase public understanding of and appreciation for the uses of the data discussed in this report.
Federal data programs have been developed primarily to carry out agency-specific missions. Congress plays an essential role in mandating cross-agency coordination. Interagency cooperation and coordination require specific directives or permission and sufficient funding.
Each of the federal departments carries critical responsibilities in serving the interests of the nation. Although the collection, analysis, and reporting of data and information are designed primarily to support these unique and critical national missions, cooperation in areas of mutual interest could enhance the ability of all agencies of government to serve the public. Most early efforts at coordination have focused on areas of public service, including emergency management and environmental issues. During the most recent U.S. Census, efforts began to develop better ways