Institutional and Legal Foundations
The State Legislature, persuaded by a series of studies and recommendations dating back to the 1980s, enacted Chapter 564 of the Laws of 1994 establishing a temporary state GIS coordinating council. This temporary council was charged with reporting to the Governor and the Legislature recommendations for improved coordination of GIS in New York State. The Council, comprising 57 members named by 28 separate appointing authorities, was chaired by the NYS Division of the Budget. It began its deliberations in the fall of 1995 and, drawing upon both the CTG and SARA projects in addition to the expertise of its members, made its recommendations in March 1996. The Council's highest priority recommendations included these: create a permanent GIS coordinating body with specific goals, duties and structure; establish a clearinghouse for spatial information; enact license agreement authority for local and state government; amend the Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) to authorize local and State agencies to set fees for commercial use of GIS data, and to use those fees to defray GIS costs and expand public access to GIS information; limit liability for spatial data providers.
A second concurrent development was the creation of the Governor's Task Force on Information Resource Management, New York's first central information technology agency, launched in January 1996 and charged with a policy-making and coordination role for all information resources in State government. The Task Force was subsequently created in law as the NYS Office for Technology (OFT). The Task Force requested that a Statewide GIS Coordination Plan be produced based on the conclusions of the Temporary Council Report. A Special Purpose Subcommittee on GIS, chaired by the Office of Real Property Services (ORPS), lead the establishment of a statewide integrated GIS initiative. To ensure that the plan represented the interests of all major GIS stakeholders, an advisory group was created which featured federal, state and local organizations as well as private and academic sectors. The Subcommittee delivered the Statewide GIS Coordination Plan in May 1996. It recommended that a GIS Coordinating Body be created as a standing subcommittee of the Task Force to set policy on GIS data sharing in NYS and that a spatial metadata and informational clearinghouse be established at the State Library, based on the prototype developed by CTG.