When acquiring or distributing geographic data, agencies must make choices about the most effective and efficient way to accomplish their missions, weighing such factors as data cost, quality, and fitness for use. In making these choices, agencies need to be clear about (1) what the data are initially needed for and (2) what follow-on applications are required or desirable, including both discretionary and nondiscretionary applications. A number of considerations affect the decision-making context for agencies. These can be conveniently presented as a series of iterative steps (Figure 8-1).

FIGURE 8-1 Steps in the decision-making process for geographic data acquisition and distribution. Arrows indicate points in the decision process when it is valuable to revisit earlier components of the decision sequence.

As indicated in Figure 8-1, licensing represents a new and potentially valuable tool for accomplishing agency missions. Like any powerful tool, licenses have both advantages and disadvantages. Before deciding for or against licensing, government decision makers should have a clear understanding of how a decision to license is likely to affect the goals of

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