between federal agencies, state and local governments, and the private sector. After examining the pros and cons of several current spatial data programs that involve partnerships, the MSC agrees that a partnership model, the subject of this report, is an excellent approach for enhancing the NSDI. A companion report (in preparation—The National Spatial Data Infrastructure: The Data Foundation) suggests a rationale for identifying the principal elements needed to create the data component of the NSDI.

The focus of partnership arrangements within this report is on federal and state agencies. However, the MSC recognizes that a large volume of spatial data is created and used by local governments throughout the nation. Recently a number of state geographic information councils have been established to coordinate spatial data activities within the respective states. Such councils can also encourage partnerships between state and local government agencies, coordinate arrangements between state agencies and the private sector, and provide points of contact for partnerships with the federal government organizations. Although many states have geographic information councils, they are not universal. The MSC agrees with the recommendation of the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) in its strategic plan to help form or strengthen these state geographic information councils. The principles developed in this report should be transferrable to a wide variety of spatial data partnerships.

The committee identified several key elements during the course of this study that should be common to future partnerships. These include the following:

  • Shared Responsibilities. The parties to a partnership should have a formal agreement that defines each party's responsibilities in the activity.

  • Shared Commitment. The costs of the activity should be shared between the parties according to some agreed formula.

  • Shared Benefits. Each party to the activity should derive some benefit that is consistent with its mandated role as an agency.

  • Shared Control. Decision-making control of the partnership should be divided between the participants.

In addition, the committee believes that the following conditions should be emphasized in the formation of NSDI partnerships:

  • Benefits of spatial data partnerships must be evaluated for the entire national community of spatial data users, not merely for the agencies participating in the partnership.

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