By Fred Logman and David Arbeit, Office of Geographic and Demographic Analysis
May 16, 2009 marks a milestone for GIS within Minnesota. Even before the 2009 legislative session ended, Governor Tim Pawlenty signed legislation that included language establishing the Minnesota Geospatial Information Office. Creating the MGIO implements a recommendation first made in 2004 by the Governor’s Council on Geographic Information and completes an 18-month collaborative journey with stakeholders that began with designation of “Enterprise GIS Coordination” as a Governor’s Drive to Excellence initiative.
The legislative enabling language creates the MGIO within the Department of Administration to “provide coordination, guidance, and leadership, and to plan the implementation of Minnesota's geospatial information technology.” The MGIO will be headed by a Chief Geospatial Information Officer and guided by two advisory councils appointed by the Commissioner of Administration -- one representing state government, the other the broader statewide community. Until the new advisory bodies are in place, the MGIO will be advised by the Governor’s Council on Geographic Information and other stakeholders. With the creation of the MGIO, LMIC ceases to exist but its staff, budget and resources are transferred to the MGIO.
Although Applied Geographics recommended that the MGIO be funded with a significant increase to the budget previously allocated to LMIC, no new funding is provided by the legislation. Without additional funding the MGIO will not be able to fully address all of the activities recommended by Applied Geographics. One of the MGIO’s initial priorities is to work with stakeholders to identify priorities and fit activities to available resources.
Participants in the Drive to Excellence initiative and MGIO stakeholders will be invited to a “Transition Forum” scheduled for late June or early July to help launch the new office. This event will serve both as a celebration of community and as an opportunity to participate in a dialog that will help shape the MGIO’s priorities.