Creation of the Center for GIS at OFT: Formalization of the GIS Program
In 2000, after several years of advocacy by the GIS coordination community, a major State budget appropriation was made to institutionalize the program and to create a formal, professional GIS Center within OFT. Today, it is building a sizable professional staff, and launching several statewide data development programs such as digital orthophotography that will benefit all users. It has also taken on full operation of the Clearinghouse and the Data Sharing Cooperative. The staff was built by transferring the experts who built the Clearinghouse at the State Library, others who led GIS efforts at the Department of Transportation, as well as new hires. The Coordinating Body and working groups remain as advisors to the staff. Most participants view this as a very positive development, although they acknowledge that it will change the relationships that have brought the program to its present status and adjustments will need to be made to shift from an all-volunteer effort to one that is more formal. Some work groups view the Center as very beneficial to them because the Center will be able to dedicate resources that were difficult to find before. Therefore, they expect to see their recommendations implemented sooner. Others perceive it as a possible threat and feel their role will be diminished. They fear the representative Coordinating Body may no longer set the agenda, but only approve what the GIS Center wants to achieve.