Government Accountability Office should be commended for its investigation into
duplication among Federal agencies and its particular attention to geospatial
activities. MAPPS looks forward to
working with Congress, GAO and the agencies on reform initiatives.
this issue in perspective, I would like to read a passage to you and ask if
this sounds familiar:
‘The last major study of Federal surveying and
mapping nearly 40 years ago found a disturbing proliferation and duplication of
activity among many different agencies. Today these activities are found among
an even greater number, suggesting that over the years the conventional
budgetary process alone could not constrain the growth of surveying and mapping
outside the core agencies, which apparently were not getting the job done. Now
a new generation of problems — urban sprawl, pollution, energy crisis — are
creating additional pressures which threaten even further lag in services and
diffusion of effort. This can be corrected by improving efficiency through new
technology and by centralizing management, which together offer the key to a
better ratio of expenditure to service.’
That is not from the 2013 GAO report, but from a 1973 OMB Report. We've had a
problem with duplication in Federal mapping for 80 years, and it hasn’t been
Not only is there duplication from one agency to
another, but the government duplicates and competes with the private sector.
I’m quoting again from the 1973 OMB report:
‘Private cartographic contract capability is not
being used sufficiently. We found this capacity to be broad and varied and
capable of rendering skilled support to Federal MC&G (mapping, charting and
geodesy) programs. Contract capability is a viable management alternative, and
using it would be consistent with the President's desire to limit the size of
the Federal payroll.’
Again that’s not 2013, its 1973. The President mentioned is not Obama, or
Bush, or Clinton or Reagan, but Nixon.
The private sector in mapping is even more qualified and capable than it
was 40 years ago.
The problem is not that we’re not spending enough
on mapping, the problem is we’re not spending smart enough. Among our Federal employees, there are good
people stuck in a bad system.
The economy of the United States can grow, jobs
can be created, and the Federal debt can be lowered through better mapping and
geospatial data of our Nation. A better
structure and new systems must be implemented to eliminate duplication among
agencies, as well as eliminate government competition with and duplication of
the private sector.
Programs such as the "Digital Coast” activity in
NOAA, "Data Acquisition as a Service” being developed by the Federal Geographic
Data Committee, the "3DEP” or "Three-Dimensional Elevation Program” being
launched by the USGS, are great first steps toward better coordination and
effective utilization of the private sector.
Legislation such as the Map It Once, Use It Many
Times Act by Representative Doug Lamborn of Colorado, and the Digital Coast Act
by Representative Dutch Ruppersberger of Maryland and Representative Don Young of
Alaska, the Federal Land Asset Inventory Reform or FLAIR Act, by
Representatives Ron Kind of Wisconsin and Rob Bishop of Utah, as well as by
Senators Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee of Utah are serious and meaningful
legislative proposals to reform Federal mapping activities.
Congress also bears some responsibility for the
fact that scores of Federal agencies have mapping and geospatial activities in
stove-pipe or silos. Responsibility for
oversight and authorization of Federal geospatial activities is spread among more
than 30 House and Senate committees and subcommittees.
Change is long overdue. MAPPS commends GAO for highlighting this
problem and we stand ready to help Congress, GAO and the Obama Administration
with effective solutions that benefit our Nation.
Previous GAO studies on mapping or