their own. States and localities with existing calendar applications could maintain those systems and also submit information to the national calendar.

"What we're coming up with is we'll have to let individual jurisdictions decide how they want to play," Lambard said. "That's going to be a strength of this program. We're not going to tell them, we're going to ask them."

Eventually, applications like the calendar would be just one facet of a broad array of related information and services held together by a national parks and recreation channel. "If you had enough people in the channel and enough interest, you could have multiple applications being worked on simultaneously by different subsets of folks in that channel," said Lambard. "They would be different parts of the same puzzle, and the channel would be a central entryway into those applications."

Finding Funds

Clark said funding presents the biggest challenge to building multi-jurisdictional applications to populate these channels. State, local and federal appropriations processes are designed to support specific programs or agencies, he said, complicating the development of shared systems.

"At a certain point when you talk about infrastructure to provide cross-agency and cross-governmental action, that requires co-mingling of funds," he said. "Until we have that type of legislative authority, that could be a barrier."

Clark said the Office of Intergovernmental Solutions intends to raise awareness of the issue among lawmakers at all levels of government in the hope of lessening the procedural obstacles. But existing appropriations challenges don't rule out development of shared applications, Clark added, noting that both the Internet and the Global Positioning System began as government-funded initiatives.

Starting Small

For now, Lambard said he's satisfied with gradually adding features to the calendar application and increasing the number of jurisdictions that are participating in the project.

"We're not sure how big this will grow," he said. "Our Division of Parks and Forestry is going to be using it, and we'll do our best to get every county involved. And I think we have a good commitment from the [U.S.] Interior Department."

In addition, he's working with Virginia officials to incorporate their state and county park information into the application.

Virginia's Dillehay expects momentum for the project to grow from the bottom up. "A state doesn't have to participate in order for a locality to participate," she said.

"By identifying a channel, you allow anyone to participate by linking services to that channel. It's creating a framework for people to work together to develop this repository."

Clark intends to facilitate that process by making the Government Without Boundaries Web site a storehouse for information on joining existing channels and creating new ones. He also expects the current parks and recreation project to plant the seeds for more complex undertakings in the future.

"Our goal is to set some guidelines or lessons learned on how to truly do intergovernmental projects," he said. "We want to come up with something that is repeatable and scalable to other areas that are going to be a lot more difficult."

Steve Towns, Editor Steve Towns  | 

Steve Towns is the former editor of Government Technology, and former executive editor for e.Republic Inc., publisher of GOVERNING, Government TechnologyPublic CIO and Emergency Management magazines. He has more than 20 years of writing and editing experience at newspapers and magazines, including more than 15 years of covering technology in the state and local government market. Steve now serves as the Deputy Chief Content Officer for e.Republic.