Monday, May 13, 2013

Are you surprised by a veto on spending from Georgia's Republican governor?

Many in the State of Georgia’s (USA) mapping community were surprised by Republican Governor Nathan Deal’s veto of Georgia Senate Bill 11.  The goal of the bill was to formalize the role of director of Georgia Geospatial Advisory Council (GGAC). This Geographic Information Officer (GIO) position was presented as the only pathway to facilitate managing geospatial data collection and maintenance across the Georgia.

As re-read the Georgia Geospatial Audit (GGA) it again stands out that GGAC is proposing a specific pathway to accomplishing the primary goal of creating and maintaining consistently solid geospatial information to support better and more timely legislative and executive decision making. That singular pathway in and of itself is the problem.

Having a governmental unit responsible for resource mapping in the state of Georgia can be argued as the best way manage mapping in Georgia. Notwithstanding the clear logic, as has been proposed by GGAC (as outlined in the GGA), a GIO approach has not in the past, and will not likely occur in the next few legislative sessions in the State of Georgia.

It is my opinion, as long as GISCC and the Georgia Geospatial Advisory Council (GGAC) push for a new tax payer funded position or department, we will see a failure to accomplish the real geospatial need in Georgia; consistent up-to-date and accurate geospatial information that supports better decision making in Georgia, available to both the legislative and administrative branches.
By a large margin, Georgia is dominated by an electorate and legislative culture who are currently opposed to the of new departments and opposed to adding personnel to the state’s payroll. Indeed, these electorate and legislative cultures demand spending be intelligently trimmed now and continuing over the next decade. These demands would wrongly be considered austerity measures. Rather, clearing out wasteful spending before new spending is considered. The pathway GISCC and GGAC have proposed, cannot be done in the current political climate.

GISCC and GGAC need to think outside of the 'GIO is the only way' box. The GIO approach will not work in the in the Georgia's current electorate and legislative cultures. Georgia needs a truly innovative approach to the  real challenge of providing solid, accurate, timely geospatial data to decision makers.