COOPERATION/PARTNERSHIP MODELS IN EXISTENCE TODAY
Four examples of multiagency cooperative programs were examined in the course of this study: the U.S. Bureau of the Census, the National Geodetic Reference System, the South Carolina Water Resources Commission, and the Maryland Digital Orthophoto Program. The first two examples have been federally initiated, and the last two are state initiated. These examples provide insight into both the opportunities and the hazards of federal/state partnerships. The degree to which each of the working programs fits a partnership model can be debated; the primary purpose of this review is to identify desirable elements for partnership models.
BUREAU OF THE CENSUS—STATE DATA PROGRAM
The Bureau of the Census is well known as a federal data gathering organization. The public and all state and local agencies are familiar with the agency and its data, and the public has indicated acceptance of the Bureau's work through participation in the data gathering process. To facilitate the data transfer process, the Bureau of the Census has provided for data transfer to the various states through joint statistical agreements. These are formal MOUs that provide for data release, usually through the governor's office. The Bureau of the Census provides the data and the state is obligated to distribute the data and data products within the state. The Bureau provides some limited training, data, and new products to the state. As state computer systems become more sophisticated, the Bureau of the
Census data become more valuable. For instance, Kansas recently underwent a reapportionment based on digital census data. Legislators were able to try their own ideas for district size and configuration on the computer. In consequence, the reapportionment was not challenged in court by a disaffected political party. Additional affiliates of the Bureau of the Census are private concerns, many of whom market value-added products largely based on the original census products.
Businesses constantly use census data for marketing, sales targeting, and demographics. Commercial directories build their businesses on the value adding they do with census data. Costs for the services of this data transfer program are about $800,000 per year, mostly for the 12 full-time staff who distribute the products. All other costs are reimbursed through digital line charges and connect costs. The primary value of this partnership to the Bureau of the Census is in the visibility of census products. In this way, the bureau is perceived favorably by the public as providing a quality service .
NATIONAL GEODETIC SURVEY
Geographic information is of little value unless it is tied to the Earth. In the past, the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey maintained leveling lines and benchmarks that have been the basis of all land surveying. Public land surveys are also tied to these benchmarks. Now the National Geodetic Survey (NGS) within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) maintains the National Geodetic Reference System and a national geodetic control network. Use of orthophotos and the Global Positioning System (GPS) permits the accurate positioning of all objects on the Earth, but the development of those systems is expensive. The NGS has formed partnerships with transportation, natural resources, and other agencies within the states to provide exchange of survey data and to provide for permanent recording of new survey data. This NGS partnership involves cost sharing. As presented to the MSC, there are several triggers to the development of new surveys, including new highway funding, where federal dollars require the NGS to participate, new technology (GPS), new administrative procedures such as OMB circulars, and various other agency and state needs for survey data to locate objects or sites.
There is a long-standing pride in the NGS deriving from its historical role in the United States and its dedicated clientele and staff. While this program is not as visible as the census program (it does not deal directly
with the public), the function is important and should be further studied as a federal/state government model for data partnership.
Mutual planning for surveys and mutual agreement for the use of data as crucial to the success of this program. This is a program for professionals rather than lay citizens. The primary advantage to the partnership arrangement is the establishment of long-term commitments to create and maintain current data.
SOUTH CAROLINA WATER RESOURCES COMMISSION
South Carolina is developing a statewide GIS to assist in natural resource management decisions. Federal funding is administered through the South Carolina Water Resources Commission (SCWRC) and NOAA's Strategic Environmental Assessment Division, which are the lead state and federal agencies designated to build this diverse partnership. The project encompasses a broad spectrum of potential GIS user needs and information resources including the local, state, and federal agencies and the private sector. Guidance as to the goals and direction of the project is through an advisory committee that includes the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), USGS, and NOAA, seven state agencies, several universities, and representatives of the timber and agriculture industry, as well as experts in other fields such as economics, wetland science, anthropology, and landscape architecture.
Initial goals are on placing state-of-the-art information management tools at the disposal of local communities so that natural resource management and economic development decisions are informed and accomplished with minimum conflict. Initial data capture was focused on the nationally significant Edisto River basin where the needs for jobs and for conservation are both critical. Day-to-day operational planning, staff support, and budgetary management are within the SCWRC. Representatives of the SCWRC maintain that the establishment of a lead operational agency has been critical to keeping the project focused and results oriented. They view the strengths of this partnership to be (1) the diversity of the stakeholders, (2) the breadth of funding sources (state, federal, and private sector), and (3) the strict adherence to data quality standards.
One of the first efforts was to establish a user needs study and to design the appropriate land base and natural resource themes. The SCWRC
chose the USGS 7.5 minute topographic map base, wetlands, upland land use, soils, environmental permit, and rare species data as the primary conversion targets. This extensive data conversion was financed through joint funding agreements with several federal agencies. As of mid-1993, the USGS and the SCWRC have digitized existing information from about 62 percent of the 353 quadrangles within the state through fifty-fifty cost share agreements. Joint funding agreements are also in place with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to digitize the National Wetland Inventory maps. An in-kind-service agreement exists between the SCWRC and the Soil Conservation Service for quality control so that digital soils information will meet national standards. Additionally, the Army Corps of Engineers and the National Park Service have made significant monetary contributions to the project. Data investment decisions are structured to empower regional and local governments to make informed decisions regarding development and natural resource management. However, data base design decisions have always been influenced by the potential long-term value that these investments will have for water-use planning, emergency response, industry siting, transportation planning, forest products development, and all the various missions that could use the information and technology. Recently, several private businesses with large landholdings in the state have begun negotiations with the SCWRC to add additional funding to the project. The Natural Resources Decision Support System GIS now contains in excess of 20 layers of information and has maintained strict compliance with national map accuracy standards.
Other state and local government agencies are now interested in supporting the system as the data coverage and quality are recognized as appropriate for their use, so that the demand for information and the number of stakeholders continue to increase. The partnership's success is based on a shared vision that each stakeholder will achieve greater efficiencies in performing their mandates using this information management tool. Working together will allow each to own and use an application-rich data base that none could afford in isolation. The funding synergy is achieved through a level of mutual respect and codified in joint funding agreements and MOUs. This has been accomplished in spite of outdated rules restricting use of diverse federal funding sources in data conversion matching programs. The investment in building a high quality data base will lead to the development of new applications resulting in even greater benefits to the partnership.
The South Carolina example illustrates a valuable transition to digital data, adding to the resources that have been provided through former
USGS cooperative information exchange and technology transfer programs. The model demonstrates how traditionally independent federal and state agencies can more effectively meet many missions by working together in a focused, well-managed partnership. The model is particularly significant as a statement for the increased benefits that can be derived from increased communication and respect between levels of government. Finally, as in previous examples, good planning that results in building and maintaining spatial data sets to national standards that meet the needs of multiple stakeholders is the key to measurable benefits and ultimate success of the project.
MARYLAND DIGITAL ORTHOPHOTO PROGRAM
As the federal government has placed increasing demands on states to develop data and to manage programs without consequent funding, Maryland has developed a cost-effective response that will have wide applicability. The digital orthophoto program (orthophotos are rectified aerial photographs) was developed in response to a mandate to map wetlands, a major issue along the Maryland coast. Previous mapping was not sufficiently accurate for the purpose of this program. The orthophoto data acquisition solved this by creating an image data base that meets accuracy requirements to locate objects or sites the size of individual homes and out buildings. This not only permitted the wetlands mapping to proceed with great accuracy, it has also generated a great deal of interest in local government for land use planning and property appraisal.
County governments financed part of the data acquisition program by doing the physical monumenting and paying for the aerial photography. The state has funded (using primarily EPA funds) the data reduction and product development. Counties are thus stakeholders, and have been a great source of support for the program in difficult financial times for the state. Major problems for the program, in addition to funding, were concerns of state agencies about the large amount of data resident in a single agency, lack of faith in new technology, and questions of access to data. Simple MOUs and handshake agreements have dispelled these issues, and the system is working.
This model operates like the South Carolina model in one respect: there has been an individual upon whom the system focuses, an agency that leads, and a climate of mutual trust and cooperation. The Maryland system envisions future products to be large-scale small-format distribution
system envisions future products to be large-scale small-format distribution of maps, designed on demand for individual citizen use, perhaps by kiosk distribution in shopping malls. While this may or may not reach fruition in the near future, it is clear that vision is required to make federal/state working partnerships effective and to get the job done.