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Recognizing the growing need to help public health agencies develop a cohesive enterprise, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation engaged the Public Health Informatics Institute (the Institute) in a national initiative called Common Ground. Through this initiative, the Institute led the collaborative development of requirements for information systems that would improve public health preparedness — the ability to respond to public health threats such as infectious diseases, pandemics and bioterrorism — and management of chronic diseases, such as obesity, diabetes and asthma. The Institute served as the National Program Office for the initiative, teaching grantees public health informatics principles and methods, providing technical assistance, and guiding grantees through a methodology for collaboratively defining a common set of information system requirements. This document presents an overview of the Common Ground initiative.