State Involvement and Leadership
State-level leadership was initiated by the Project Director of the NYS Office for Technology (OFT), who provided guidance and direction to all government agencies involved in GIS activities. OFT, organizationally located in the Office of the Governor, was established to coordinate NYS information policies and resources. OFT successfully provided the state-level leadership necessary to implement the GIS Coordination Program by designating a leader who acted as a steadfast champion for the cause of cooperation. By pursuing a strategy of incremental gains, practical goals with challenging deadlines, and wide consultation within the GIS community, a great deal was accomplished in a short time. It is important to understand, as well, that OFT was a new agency linked to the Governor. As such, it had no "history" to overcome, and state agencies, local governments, and private businesses alike perceived the GIS initiative to have the commitment of the State's top elected leader.
State leadership was also exercised by several state agencies that are the acknowledged leaders in the use of GIS: the Departments of Transportation and Environmental Conservation (DOT and DEC), and the Office of Real Property Services (ORPS). The early involvement of these agencies in the GIS program was crucial in order to convince other agencies to become active in the coordination effort and to join the formal data sharing cooperative. Many state agencies needed to see the state GIS leaders demonstrate commitment before they would join the effort. DOT, in particular, was a critical player as it had a historical policy and practice of selling its GIS data, even to other government agencies. New leadership within DOT became committed to the cooperative program and put its key data sets on the Clearinghouse for free use. DOT also led the effort to create and advocate for formal Data Sharing Agreements . ORPS engaged with DOT in a successful experiment in making data from both agencies available over the Internet. DEC, an early advocate of data sharing, was among the first agencies to develop complete metadata for its data holdings and to encourage their use. While many other agencies advocated for cooperation, and actively contributed to the effort, these three agencies provided essential leadership and credibility for the project.