A strength of a publicly chartered non profit corporation is that the organization is ideally positioned to effect a true public-private partnership. In principle, it can be responsive to user/provider organizations of all types and sizes. It has a federal government mandate, but it is not tightly bound by statutes, regulations, or relatively narrow agency missions in the breadth or the sectors of the community served. It constitutes a vehicle of convenience, through which the federal agencies can better accomplish some of their goals and objectives for the greater public good.
An organization such as CEM would be at least partly self-supporting, and as such it should have the stability required to endure. However, as a publicly chartered corporation, some federal subsidy to CEM would be required on an annual basis. If this subsidy were ever eliminated, it could have a detrimental effect on the organization. For example, the U.S. Postal Service could not survive without a federal subsidy, even though it raises a considerable amount of revenue.
The hypothetical CEM model provides all the necessary characteristics needed. It is easy to envision this hybrid non profit corporation, formed for the expressed purpose of coordinating the operation of environmental monitoring networks, collecting data, charging users of those observations for their use, and using the fees to fund the data collection. Federal, state, and local governmental initiatives could expand the NoN and offer incentives to others for the provision of additional observations that are carefully targeted to fill critical national needs.
Recommendation: The United States should establish a robust and economically viable organizational structure to effect the national implementation of a multi-purpose environmental observing network at the mesoscale. It may be preferable for this organization to take the form of a publicly chartered, private non profit corporation. A hybrid public-private organizational model would stimulate both public and private participation over a wide, dynamic range of investment and applications; maximize access to mesoscale data; and effect a synergism between the public good and proprietary interests.