To provide communities with greater access to information about their communities and regions, the Clinton-Gore Administration is proposing $50 million for the interagency Community/Federal Information Partnership (C/FIP) initiative that will make new informational tools more readily available at the local level. These tools include Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology -- easy-to-understand computer maps that show different aspects of a region -- which will help communities to make more informed, collaborative decisions about regional growth, land-use, and natural resource management.
Of the proposed $50 million, approximately half of the funds will be available as competitive, matching grants to local, regional, and national non-Federal agencies and organizations to build local capacity to create geospatial data and use GIS technology. The remainder of the funding will be used to improve public access to geographic information residing in Federal agencies.
In addition, this year's Lands Legacy initiative includes a $30 million increase in the Interior Department's U.S. Geological Survey for C/FIP. The Lands Legacy initiative complements Livable Communities, emphasizing land conservation; smart growth; and partnerships and information sharing with State, local, and Tribal governments, and non-profit groups to preserve open spaces in urban, suburban, rural, and coastal areas. This $30 million is part of the $50 million total for C/FIP and will target the use of GIS technology for land-use planning, natural resource management, and land acquisition purposes.
GIS technology (which shows layers of information on everything from parks and buildings to farmland and roads) will make it dramatically easier for communities to envision and chart their growth. Syndicated columnist Neil Peirce writes, "Using that data [GIS technology] to visualize the impact of proposed development has to be a perfect form of federal R&D for smart communities. Demystify growth decisions, and there's a real opportunity to democratize the development process, to let ordinary citizens... influence how communities grow and develop." The National Association of Counties also recognizes the "necessity and viability of GIS for the support of all levels of government in their planning and operation efforts."
The 15 Federal agencies that make up the Federal Geographic Data Committee -- which was originally launched by the Vice President's reinventing government initiative developed this new Partnership. These Federal Agencies are working in cooperation with a variety of stakeholders, including state, local and tribal governments, the academic community, and the private sector. Funding for the Partnership will be provided by the Departments of the Interior, Housing and Urban Development, Agriculture, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration.
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