and natural resources. GA is also responsible for coordinating the implementation of the Australian government’s policy on spatial data access. The following information is synthesized from a questionnaire provided by the GA information-management team supplemented by information drawn from a recent report by the Australian National Audit Office (2010).
In designing and implementing SDIs in GA and in other state and science organizations in Australia, there have been a number of common and important challenges that range from organizational and cultural concerns to policy and financial issues. SDI development had been difficult for highly competitive, inwardly focused organizations and ones that focused on the final deliverable. Self-taught experts dominated discussions about SDI development, rather than the necessary highly trained technical informatics experts who fully understood an SDI and who were committed to its successful implementation. Science funding has been increasingly competitive in the last 3 decades. Although collaboration on issues such as data-sharing and agreement of standards is critical for the development of an SDI, competition for shrinking funding has made it difficult for scientists to collaborate. In other cases, scientists did not share data, because they believed the data were unfit for release and had no timeframe for completing the data-improvement processes. Agreed policies were imperative at the organizational level in that properly implemented and articulated policies can be an enabler for SDIs. Spending large amounts of funds in a short period became unsustainable for the financial health of those efforts.
GA personnel reported that the most important factors for successfully building SDIs were the ones that focused on collaboration to develop and improve data standards (in accordance with international standards) and the ones that focused on making data accessible to the broader community. In developing data standards, once the standards are defined and agreed on, they must be applied consistently.
Another factor that led to the Australian government’s successful SDI design and implementation was a well-developed roadmap that was based on sound scientific and business practices; that encompassed technological, computational, and engineering viewpoints; and that was consistently reviewed and updated as required. A well-written business case articulated the value proposition of an SDI, and the efforts were championed by a leader who was knowledgeable and respected in the community and could clearly articulate the value of an SDI in the organization. College educated and respected professionals who understood the technology were needed. Incremental SDI implementation was also important; it was more effective to establish progressive goals than a final deadline.
The culture of the organization played a role in successful SDI implementation. The introduction of an SDI was initially disruptive. Realistic expectations