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National Partnership for Reinventing Government


January 12, 2001






Since early history, people have used maps to capture and display information about their world. And from the time that President Jefferson sent Lewis and Clark to survey the Louisiana Purchase, federal agencies have played an important role in surveying, mapping and displaying information about the United States - - its land, waters, roads, weather and its people.

Today, because of information technology, for the first time it is possible to integrate large amounts of information from many sources and make it available over the web. Vice President Gore described the potential:

“We have an unparalleled opportunity to turn a flood of raw data into understandable information about our society and our planet . . . If we are successful, it will have broad societal and commercial benefits in areas such as education, decision-making for a sustainable future, land-use planning, agricultural, and crisis management.”

The National Partnership for Reinventing Government has pursued this vision in three primary ways:

  1. Calling for a cooperative public/private effort to create a National Spatial Data Infrastructure to integrate geographic information about the country;
  2. Using information that is integrated and linked to geography to support government reinvention; and
  3. Developing electronic government supported by geographic information to enhance government services and make government more accountable for results on the ground. We call this G-Gov.


Building A National Spatial Data Infrastructure

  • In 1993, NPR called for a cooperative public/private effort to create a National Spatial Data Infrastructure to integrate geographic information about the country. Recommendation
  • In 1994, President Clinton signed Executive Order 12906 directing that the National Spatial Data Infrastructure be created, strengthening the Federal Geographic Data Committee and calling for the establishment of a national clearinghouse and the development of standards to facilitate the sharing of geographic information across agencies and with the public. Executive Order
  • 1994-2001: Secretary Bruce Babbitt chairs the Federal Geographic Data Committee leading and coordinating federal efforts. Highlights include:
    • FGDC activities and membership expanded to include state, local and tribal governments, private sector and other federal departments;
    • FGDC clearinghouse created in 1994;
    • Standards underway;
    • Framework data partially completed;
    • Cooperative grants program initiated with more than 300 grants by 2000;
    • Much federal data still paper, analog, not compatible and hard to find; but
    • Significant federal, state & local investment provide base for completing Infrastructure.

Financing the National Spatial Data Infrastructure

  • In March 1999, NPR hosted a White House Briefing on innovative approaches to finance the NSDI. Financing (PDF file)

Working with States to Build the National Spatial Data Infrastructure

  • NPR worked with North Carolina, Federal Emergency Management Agency and 15 other federal agencies to develop a model memorandum of agreement and a $30 million cooperative program to redo the state's flood maps following Hurricane Floyd.
  • NPR and FGDC co-sponsored an Office of Management and Budget meeting on Geographic Information Systems, July 18, 2000. Meeting Report. Following this meeting, OMB adopted the cooperative federal/state model and invited other states to join with the federal government to create “I-Teams” to accelerate the completion of the NSDI. Report (PDF file)


Beginning in1998, NPR promoted the use of information that is integrated and linked to geography to support government reinvention. In addition to encouraging traditional uses of this information in environment and natural resources, NPR focused on new uses to reduce crime, promote public safety, support smart growth and provide more responsive information and services for the public. Hammer Award Speech

Mapping Out Crime

  • A Department of Justice and NPR Task Force issued a report in 1999 recommending ways the federal government could help communities and police departments use information technology to map crime, identify hot spots and reduce and prevent crime. News Release. On July 12, 1999 Vice President Gore announced the report and several steps that the Department of Justice was taking to put crime technology in the hands of police departments.

    As of December 2000:
    • New software was available to police departments and prosecutors at no cost, such as CrimeStat, Beat Book and geographic information systems (GIS) software for regional crime analysis (RCAGIS). Mapping Tools
    • Distance and other training on crime mapping was available to police departments;
    • Software had been developed to integrate information on federal prosecutions, promoting better coordination of federal law enforcement agencies; and
    • NPR initiated a national peer-to-peer network - - SafeCities - - committed to reducing gun violence. As part of the SafeCities initiative, Springfield, Massachusetts demonstrated how mapping American Community Survey data could help cities prevent crime.

  • In December 2000, NPR presented a Hammer Award to the Crime Mapping Research Center in the National Institute of Justice.

Promoting Public Safety

  • NPR worked with several federal agencies to map the locations of weather towers - - a key component of the nation's early warning system for severe weather - - to identify ways to make sure that limited funds to build new towers were used most effectively. Speech
  • NPR supported pilot projects to integrate federal and local information in flood-prone areas in San Diego and Tillamook County, Oregon. Tillamook used the information to build flood protection and when floods struck, the county to cut its losses significantly. Case Study
  • Following the Hurricane Floyd, NPR hosted a White House meeting assessing the use of integrated information as part of emergency response and preparation. Participants identified the urgent need for better flood maps for emergencies and also many opportunities to use integrated information to support emergency response, recovery and mitigation. As a result:
    • NPR and FEMA worked with North Carolina to develop a model agreement to develop flood maps for state. The state and FEMA committed nearly $30 million to fund the accelerated digital mapping program. Sixteen federal agencies agreed to assist state of North Carolina and signed FEMA's first cooperating technical state agreement.
    • The US Geological Survey agreed to conduct a cost-benefit analysis of integrated flood information.
    • The Coastal Services Center in South Carolina documented best practices in the use of geographic information systems to support emergency management.
    • NPR also worked with FEMA to assess its needs for an enterprise Geographic Information System.

Promoting Smart Growth

In 1998, Vice President Gore announced demonstration projects in six communities to support locally-drive efforts to address land-use planning and other issues. The communities got funding from the Innovations Fund and had access to federal data sets and support from federal agencies and the private sector. They were able to integrate geographic data from multiple sources and use it on easy-to-understand computerized maps. For example:

  • Gallatin County, Montana used the information to develop its first ever land-use plan.
  • Citizens participated in developing a plan for green spaces in Dane County, Wisconsin. They reported: “The citizen planners in the Town of Verona have selected their Farm Priority Zone and are close to completing their green space park proposal. . . .maybe, just maybe, 50 years from now someone will notice that the reason the Town of Verona is still a special place was the result of its Year 2001 Land Use Plan.”

Reinventing Social Services

Together with the Department of Health and Human Services, NPR worked with Boost4Kids, a network of 13 counties and states, to identify ways that integrated geographic information could strengthen the delivery of health and other programs. NPR assisted Boost4Kids communities with data and software needs and sponsored training in GIS at the Centers for Disease Control. The communities have developed a number of applications, for example:

  • Mapping location of uninsured kids in San Diego County to better target outreach efforts;
  • Improving transportation routes for senior citizens in Charlotte-Mecklenburg;
  • Planning afterschool programs in Baltimore, Maryland; and
  • Putting Vermont's community report card on the web.


NPR supported the development of electronic government and the use of geographic information to enhance government services and make government more accountable for results on the ground.

Creating Electronic Government

  • In 1999, NPR launched with the Council for Excellence an unprecedented public/private partnership to create electronic government.
  • In 2000 NPR launched a “G-GOV” Working Group to promote the use of geographic information as an essential part of E-Gov. This group served as a catalyst for a variety of projects, for example promoting greater efficiency in federal fleet management, facilitating information sharing about traffic along I-95 during emergency conditions; locating government offices and services; and enhancing information services for disabled Americans.
  • NPR recognized agency GIS initiatives with the Vice President's Hammer Award, for example:
  • AirNow's Ozone Maps

    Crime Mapping Research Center


    The National Atlas

  • NPR encouraged agencies to make it easy for citizens to find information about their state and community on the Internet and developed a one stop for federal website with maps & localized information for the public: Facts For You.
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