Congressional Hearing Highlights Need for "Bold, Decisive Action" to Improve Federal Geospatial Coor
Monday, July 27, 2009
Posted by: Nick Palatiello
DC - "Bold, decisive action is needed to eliminate the extraordinary waste,
duplication and inefficiency in the Federal government's geospatial activities,
the lack of a strong partnerships in Federal agencies' relationship with State
and Local government, and the insidious extent to which there continues to be
unfair government competition with the private sector," John Palatiello,
MAPPS Executive Director, told a Congressional Subcommittee Thursday, July 23.
Two representatives of MAPPS (www.mapps.org), the association for private
geospatial firms, Palatiello and Susan Marlow, President of Smart Data
Strategies, Inc. (Franklin, TN), were among the witnesses who testified before
the U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources
hearing on "Federal Geospatial Data Management."
hearing was called to evaluate the Federal government's current coordination
and management structure for geospatial activities. The Subcommittee has
oversight responsibility for USGS, which is the home of the Federal Geographic
Data Committee (FGDC) staff. Nine members of Congress attended the hearing
including: Subcommittee Chairman Jim Costa (D-CA), Subcommittee Ranking Member
Doug Lamborn (R-CO), and fellow Representatives Niki Tsongas (D-MA), John
Sarbanes (D-MD), Gregorio Sablan (D-MP), Rush Holt (D-NJ), Stephanie
Herseth-Sandlin (D-SD), Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN).
Marlow, chair of the MAPPS cadastre task force and a member of the National
Research Council panel that produced the report, National Land Parcel Data: A
Vision for the Future, told Congress the challenge to creating a national
cadastre or parcel layer to the NSDI "is not technical, it is political
and institutional." She said, "While FedEx can track the location of
millions of packages per day moving around the world, the Federal government
does not track location of land, and it is stationary."
also included Karen Siderelis, Geographic Information Officer (GIO) of the
Department of the Interior and Acting Chair of the FGDC; and Michael Byrne, GIO
of the State of California.
hearing focused on intra- and inter- governmental coordination, partnerships,
data sharing, duplication avoidance, and governance in geospatial activities.
The Subcommittee members questioned witnesses on Title 13 restrictions to
Census data that are causing redundant data collection activities and
expenditures in the broadband mapping program and government agency use of
stimulus funding to buy equipment for in-house performance of geospatial
activities that could result in government competition with and duplication of
the private sector, thus exacerbating unemployment. Chairman Costa stated that
often the private sector is "better equipped to efficiently collect or
process the data." Ms. Marlow and Messrs. Palatiello and Byrne called for
relaxing the data sharing restriction. Ranking Member Lamborn illustrated that
the mapping community prefers to "map once, use many times" while Federal
agencies "map many times and horde the data."
Ms. Marlow and Mr. Palatiello commended the Federal government for its
increasing use of geospatial data available to help the American public, but
called for stronger leadership to make the National Spatial Data Infrastructure
(NSDI) a reality.
Formed in 1982, MAPPS is the only national association exclusively comprised of
private firms in the remote sensing, spatial data and geographic information
systems field in the United States. The MAPPS membership spans the entire
spectrum of the geospatial community, including Member Firms engaged in
satellite and airborne remote sensing, surveying, photogrammetry, aerial
photography, LIDAR, hydrography, bathymetry, charting, aerial and satellite
image processing, GPS, and GIS data collection and conversion services. MAPPS
also includes Associate Member Firms, which are companies that provide
hardware, software, products and services to the geospatial profession in the
United States and other firms from around the world. Independent Consultant
Members are sole proprietors engaged in consulting in or to the geospatial
profession, or provides a consulting service of interest to the geospatial
MAPPS provides its 180+ member firms opportunities for networking and
developing business-to-business relationships, information sharing, education,
public policy advocacy, market growth, and professional development and image