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Home >Category 3: Institution Building & Coordination

Category 3: Institution Building & Coordination

Proposal Summary

a. Applicant Organization: Maine Office of Geographic Information Systems, 145 State House Station, Augusta, Maine 04333-0145

b. Collaborating Organizations: Maine County Association, Maine Library of Geographic Information, Maine Emergency Management Agency

c. Organization Internet Address:

d. Clearinghouse Node Address:

e. Key Project Contact: Dan Walters, 207 624-9435, 207 624-4563

f. Other Contact Personnel: Peter Crichton, Robert Faunce

g. Geographic scope: State of Maine

Potential for Success
County government in New England in general, and in Maine in particular, operates differently than in the rest of the United States. County services have been traditionally limited to emergency management, probate and deeds registry functions, the sheriff’s office, jail administration, superior court, and property abatement appeals. Some of the services provided by counties elsewhere in the country, such as zoning, land use regulation, development permits, county road maintenance, waste collection, licenses, and GIS/mapping services, are handled directly by local governments. It is well documented elsewhere that significant cost savings can be achieved with the economies of scale inherent in county government but the transition from 200 years of local municipal control to regional government has been a long and fit-full process in Maine.

Some counties have begun to offer new services to their communities, either directly with waste recycling and bulk purchasing or indirectly by joint venturing with regional planning commissions. Indeed, at least one county is evaluating the possibility of providing county-based code enforcement officer services while two are beginning to look at county GIS offices. Furthermore the need for GIS data and tools in all county EMA offices has significantly increased since 9/11.

This latter service could be especially significant in Maine, which is a rural state with an average municipal population of less than 2,000. Many of the smaller communities are located in fast-growing coastal areas. Up-to-date geographic and land use information is critical to these towns but due to size and limited budgets, very few of these communities have the financial wherewithal to purchase equipment and hire staff to create and maintain GIS-based mapping and property data systems.

In response to this situation and in keeping with Governor John Baldacci’s call to regionalize municipal services, the Maine County Commissioners Association wants to evaluate the potential role of county government in the use of GIS to improve county services including emergency response and law enforcement and provision of GIS services to municipalities. In addition, the Commissioners would like to examine funding models to support county GIS and supporting services from the Maine Library of Geographic Information.

Skills and capabilities
This project will build on the work completed and published by the Legislative Resolve 23 Steering Committee in January 2002. The work of the Steering Committee led to the passage of legislation creating the Maine Library of Geographic Information and to a state bond issue funding baseline GIS data development and infrastructure in support of the implementation of GIS in local government. A contractor was hired to lead the Steering Committee through a high level user needs assessment.

Two of the general findings of the Resolve 23 report are driving this new study involving Maine counties. The study recommended a statewide GIS structure that includes regional service centers and recommended looking at increasing recording fees for land documents or adding a surcharge to the real estate transfer tax as a means of funding the GeoLibrary and the regional service centers.

FGDC grant funds are being requested to retain a contractor to 1) assist the County Commissioners identify their GIS needs and prepare a GIS strategic plan for county government based on collaboration with the Maine Library of Geographic Information and 2) to explore and recommend funding models to support proposed county GIS services and supporting services from the Maine Library of Geographic Information.

Four facilitated sessions involving county officials and staff from the 16 Maine counties will be held. Each county will be asked to designate 3 individuals to represent their current mission including law enforcement, emergency management, registry of deeds and administration. Grant funds will be used to reimburse county officials and staff for travel and food. The Maine Library of Geographic Information will match the federal funds and the counties will donate the time of their staff for travel and participation in the meetings. The contractor will work with a representative of the County association, the state GIS Administrator and GeoLibrary Board representative to plan the sessions and refine contract tasks. Based on this guidance the contractor will undertake the appropriate research and planning for the sessions. The contractor will also be responsible for capturing and publishing all meeting notes and producing a the strategic plan and recommended funding models.

Understanding the state of regional coordination
Until recently Maine has a statewide GIS program which was primarily oriented towards state agency programmatic needs and overseen by a state GIS Executive Council (GIS EC) and carried out by the lead office, the Maine Office of GIS (MEGIS). GIS EC was created by the Information Services Policy Board in 1996 to provide leadership and direction in the development of statewide GIS efforts, oversee GIS policy and the services of MEGIS, review needs and set planning and program priorities for GIS functions which are common among the departments and agencies served by MEGIS, approve the MEGIS budget and work plan and approve adjustments as needed based on reports and recommendations submitted by MEGIS and actively promote the use of GIS in Maine. It is aided by a GIS Technical Committee. GIS EC has 22 member agencies, including a representative from the university system.

A strategic plan was updated in 1999 that will guide GIS development through 2004. Statewide framework geospatial data is developed and maintained by MEGIS. MEGIS also provides public access, training, and technical assistance for Maine's geospatial data. A Council subcommittee works with MEGIS on technical issues and to formulate plans for new data development, standards and practices. MEGIS is leading a strategic effort to deploy state-of-the-art GIS software, hardware and data that will support a statewide, enterprise approach to GIS, with recent additional focus and effort to support local government.

A GIS Steering Committee was established by statute in 2001 to oversee a user needs assessment and high-level system design for a cost-effective statewide GIS that can be utilized for a variety of planning purposes by all levels of government. Their mission also included developing a plan to extend coordination and collaboration from the state level to all levels of government including counties. The Committee addressed the necessary standards and protocols of developing and maintaining the data, classifying the data and coordinating the management of the data, the levels of accuracy that are needed to fulfill the purpose of the system, how the information will be delivered for access to all levels of government, different user groups and the public, the proper roles for the public and private sector in establishing, maintaining and funding the system, privacy and how it will be protected and resource needs and long-term funding options. Members of the committee include representatives of 4 state agencies, 4 local/regional governments, 1 university, 3 private companies, and one person from the public.

Based on recommendations in the Steering Committee’s final report the Maine’s 120th Legislature enacted L.D. 2116, An Act to Establish the Maine Library of Geographic Information or “GeoLibrary”, in March of 2002, and the Governor signed this into law the following month. The Library is now the statewide network officially sanctioned by the Legislature by which data custodians or their designees organize, catalog and provide access to public geographic information to all levels of government and to the public. The law created a governing board to oversee the Library and its operations. In addition, the 120th Maine Legislature also authorized L.D. 2120 an environmental bond issue which includes $2.3 million to promote the standardization and use of public geographic information. The Board has met monthly since September of 2002 and their annual reports can be viewed on the GeoLibrary web page.

The GeoLibrary Board will begin to develop a five-year plan for the GeoLibrary this fall. The plan will consider the relationship of the Board and GeoLibrary to federal, state, county and local government. If funded, this proposal will help the counties provide input to the Board early in this process. The counties will be able to take the next step towards planning their GIS implementation and establishing a collaborative relationship with the Maine Library of Geographic Information.

A number of issues/opportunities have converged that make the proposed studies very relevant to Maine and the state’s overall implementation of GIS. It is clear that GIS will play an important role in answering Governor John Baldacci’s call to regionalize municipal services. GIS is needed to support government’s strategic planning process for regionalization. In addition, the GIS services needed by local government to support day-to-day operations may be best provided through a regionalized system. The counties need to focus on their role in these areas as well as plan for the implementation of GIS to support the services they currently provide including emergency management.

In addition, the state is still struggling to find a method to fund the core data management and clearinghouse services that support the statewide system. The Resolve 23 legislative study recommended that the state should considering raising recording fees for land related documents or a surcharge on real estate transfer fees as a means for providing stable, long-term funding for the operation of the GeoLibrary. The same mechanism could be used to support new county GIS services as well as for the development and maintenance of an automated land records information system.

Budget Sheet

a.) Salaries and wages - none

Contractor retained by RFP

Research & meeting preparations, 64 hours @ $100/hour $6,400

Facilitate meeting, 32 hours @ $100/hour $3,200

Final report preparation, 44 hours @ $100/hour $4,400

b.) Field expenses

Travel: NSDI orientation, metadata training/kickoff meeting $1000

Travel: county staff, 32 cents per mile $11,288

NOTE: 35,275 miles driven by 48 county employees to attend

4 workshops. Locations to be determined.

c.) Other direct cost line items

Food at meetings $2,212

d.) Total direct charges $28,500

e.) Indirect charges $1,500

NOTE: 5% overhead charged by MeGIS to handle financial transactions: state approved rate for transactions not requiring direct personal services

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