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"Spatially Speaking" is the official MAPPS blog providing information on topics related to the association and profession and MAPPS involvement with the issues.

 

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Rep. Lamborn Introduces H.R 4233, Map it Once, Use it Many Times Act

Posted By Nick Palatiello, Thursday, March 22, 2012

Congressman Doug Lamborn (R-CO-05) has introduced a bill that would streamline federal bureaucracy dealing with geospatial activities. H.R 4233, Map it Once, Use it Many Times Act, would reform, consolidate, and reorganize federal geospatial activities.

"There is a capable and qualified private sector in the geospatial field, yet many government agencies duplicate, and in some cases compete with, private firms.  Given the extraordinary cluster of such firms in Colorado, these phenomena particularly concern me.  At a time of record debt and deficits we need to not only eliminate duplication across agencies and programs. We must also weed out government competition with the private sector so federal assets and resources are focused on those things only government can do,” said Rep. Lamborn in a press release.

 

H.R. 4233 would:  

  • consolidate responsibilities for leadership in a National Geospatial Technology Administration within the U.S. Geological Survey;
  • merge duplicate federal geospatial programs into the new Administration;
  • encourage the uses of commercial data and private sector service providers;
  • establish a National Geospatial Policy Commission to provide a priority-setting mechanism that not only includes federal agencies, but Congress and non-federal stakeholders as well;
  • provide for acquisition of professional geospatial services on the basis of quality , qualifications and experience of competing firms;
  • establish an advocacy function for the dynamic U.S. private sector geospatial community; 
  • and coordinate the tens of millions of dollars the U.S.government spends each year on geospatial-related research and development along strategic goals that meet the needs of government and the private sector.

H.R. 4233 is one of the issues MAPPS will be advocating during the Capitol Hill Day next Wednesday, March 28 part of the Federal Programs Conference.

"Congressman Lamborn's bill will help stimulate a discussion on how to best deploy geospatial data, services, products and technologies in the Federal government, and with non-Federal stakeholders. Dozens of studies have identified the need for better geospatial coordination and utilization, but this is the first legislative effort in years to actually put some of these studies' recommendations into place.  Even if some disagree with some particular provision in the bill, Mr. Lamborn should be commended for his leadership," said MAPPS Executive Director John Palatiello  

 

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Exclusive discounts to SPAR International for MAPPS Members!

Posted By Nick Palatiello, Friday, March 16, 2012

MAPPS is once again a sponsor (Booth #53) at the 9th annual SPAR International Conference on End-to-End 3D taking place April 15-18, 2012 in The Woodlands (Houston), Texas.

We’ve secured a special 10% registration discount for our valued members to attend this world-class conference. Click here to register now or use promotional code 103811.

For more information, visit the SPAR International website.

In addition, SPAR Point Group's Sam Pfeifle interviewed John Palatiello, Executive Director about the letter MAPPS sent to the Iowa Governor and DoT on their solicitation for a high-speed laser scanner.

We look forward to seeing you at SPAR International!

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MAPPS Opposes AB 586 and SB 444 in Wisconsin

Posted By John Palatiello, Tuesday, March 13, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, March 13, 2012
Update:
On March 12, 2012 MAPPS sent a letter to members of a Wisconsin Assembly committee in opposition to AB 586.

In addition, the American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS) has sent similar letters in opposition to AB 586 and SB 444. ASPRS, like MAPPS, has concluded that in both bills Section 93 would add construction surveying which includes any mapping in support of infrastructure design or the establishing of construction documentation, and Section 95 would add geodetic surveying which includes mapping the size or shape of the earth or the precise location of points on the earth’s surface to the definition of the practice of land surveying, subject to the requirement that such services be performed by a licensed surveyor. In addition, like MAPPS, ASPRS urges the Wisconsin legislature to follow the NCEES model law by including a "savings" or "grandfather" clause.

Original Post:
February 28, 2012

MAPPS has sent a letter to members of a Wisconsin State Senate committee in opposition to AB 586 and SB 444.

This legislation makes significant changes to the definition of services that can only be performed by licensed land surveyors. It would adversely affect mapping professionals who currently perform services not related to boundary services. Inasmuch as the bill does not follow the NCEES model law and does not have a grandfather clause, it would legislate out of business highly qualified, competent and experienced mapping professionals. This includes our member firms in Wisconsin. Specifically, section 93 would add construction surveying which includes any mapping in support of infrastructure design or the establishing of construction documentation (planimetric mapping), and section 95 would add geodetic surveying which includes mapping the size or shape of the earth or the precise location of points on the earth’s surface (control surveys). While AB 586 and SB 444 do not specifically mention photogrammetry, these services would be affected nd adversely impacted.

MAPPS made its views known to the organizations supporting this bill when similar legislation was not approved in the last legislative session. We provided those organizations specific proposals to correct the bill in October of 2011, but they were not included in the current version.

The NCEES Model Law was carefully developed after an extensive process that included a nationwide group of stakeholders, such as engineers, surveyors, photogrammetrists, GIS practitioners, and state licensing board members. The Model Law includes a grandfather or "savings” clause to permit a window during which currently practicing photogrammetrists can become licensed as surveyors, limited to their area of competence and expertise – by demonstrating qualifications and experience in the specialty area of photogrammetry, but not tying it to experience, examination or education specific to traditional land surveying.

Recently, the State Legislature in the State of Oregon and the Commonwealth of Virginia included licensing of photogrammetrists in its definition of surveying. Those legislatures included such a savings clause or grandfather provision. In addition, all geospatial stakeholders in Oregon and Virginia came together to insure that the resulting legislation did not inadvertently harm the increasingly important applications of these technologies. Similar processes have been included by the other state legislatures that have recently enacted legislation affecting photogrammetry in their Land Surveyors Act, including North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida. Such an inclusive process was not followed in Wisconsin.

The MAPPS Board of Directors has adopted a principle stating "any state licensing program for individual practitioners in photogrammetry and other geospatial disciplines must include a "savings” or "grandfather” provision that permits qualified, experienced professionals to continue to practice without disruption in service.” Inasmuch as AB 586 and SB 444 violate MAPPS Board-adopted policy, MAPPS opposes these bills in their present form.

Tags:  Legislation  State License  Wisconsn 

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MAPPS Sends Letter to Iowa Governor, DoT with Concern for Laser Scanner Solicitation

Posted By John Palatiello, Wednesday, March 7, 2012

MAPPS has sent a letter to Iowa Governor Terry Brandstad and state department of transportation director Paul Trombino in response to a published solicitation for a high-speed laser scanner with survey grade accuracy and field-of-view integrated camera.

MAPPS concern is based on the fact that such services are currently provided in the commercial market by professional surveying and mapping firms. There are numerous scanner/camera systems owned and operated by private surveying and mapping firms across the United States. These firms have invested heavily in this technology, not only in capital, but in training and development of their personnel as well. Many of these firms have provided mapping, surveying, and geospatial services to the Iowa Department of Transportation for many years. Services such as aerial and ground-based surveying and mapping (commonly known as photogrammetry), aerial photography, land surveying, GIS, and scanning and imagery for mapping have long been contracted to the private sector by federal and state agencies, and many of these services have been contracted to the private sector by Iowa DoT.

Historically, private firms have proven to be more cost-effective in providing surveying and mapping services than in-house DOT production. Scanning and imaging services should be regarded in the same manner, and should be contracted as part of a QBS selection for professional services.

Federal law, which encourages the use of the private sector for highway projects (See 23 USC 306), may prohibit the acquisition of such a unit. Since 1956, the national highway law required the Secretary of Transportation to, "wherever practicable, authorize the use of photogrammetric methods in mapping, and the utilization of commercial enterprise for such services”. The law was amended in the National Highway System Act in 1995 to require the Secretary to "issue guidance to encourage States to utilize, to the maximum extent practicable, private sector sources for surveying and mapping services for projects”.

MAPPS said in an economy where States are finding it difficult to fund basic services and face financial difficulties due to high unemployment rates and reduced tax revenues, it does not appear wise or prudent to waste taxpayers’ money on equipment for government operation of an activity when there are private firms that already have such equipment and can be utilized through a competitive procurement process.

Tags:  DoT  Iowa  Laser Scanning  QBS 

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MAPPS President Joins U.S. Representatives at News Conference on Federal Prison Industries

Posted By John Palatiello, Wednesday, February 15, 2012
Updated: Friday, February 17, 2012

MAPPS President Dick McDonald, T-3 Global Strategies (Bridgeville, PA) joined U.S. Representatives Bill Huizenga (R-MI), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), James Sensenbrenner (R-WI), Walter Jones (R- NC), and Don Manzullo (R-IL) at a news conference on Thursday, February 16 to announce House legislation that will permit manufacturers and service providers to compete on equal footing for contracts with the federal government by reforming Federal Prison Industries (FPI). Speakers at the media event included John Palatiello, President, Business Coalition for Fair Competition (Reston, VA); Alan Bubes, Chief Executive Officer, Linens of the Week (Washington, D.C.) and Jonathan Long, Program Manager, Propper International (Weldon Spring, Missouri). The event was held in the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center, Room HVC-200 in Washington, DC.

Video of the news conference is available above. Read the news release from Rep. Huizenga.

Currently cosponsored by 12 bipartisan members of the U.S. House and supported by 10 business organizations, H.R. 3634 provides greater competition in federal contracting by permitting private sector firms, including small business, more opportunities by reducing FPI’s unfair advantages. Additionally, H.R. 3634 would prohibit FPI and its inmate workers from having access to a variety of geospatial information, about individual citizens' property or critical infrastructure location.

This bill is virtually identical to H.R. 2965, the bill that passed the House in 2006 by a 362-57 vote (Roll no. 443). MAPPS supported that bill. A companion bill was approved by a Senate committee, but was not enacted into law. However, other piecemeal FPI reforms have been put in place by Congress in recent years.

With unemployment continuing at dangerously high levels, 2012 may be the year Congress enacts a bill that has support from Republicans and Democrats, business and labor.

Like its predecessor, H.R. 3634 includes two provisions significant to MAPPS.

First, the bill prohibits agencies from specifying FPI, or its products, as a source in any Federal agency synopsis/solicitation. There have been incidents where architect-engineer (A/E) contracts have required the A/E firm to specify a FPI product, such as a modular furniture system, in its designs.

Most importantly, the bill prohibits FPI and its inmate workers from having access to a variety of geospatial information, about individual citizens’ property or critical infrastructure location. Specifically, it bans FPI from providing "a service in which an inmate worker has access to personal or financial information about individual private citizens, including information relating to such person’s real property, however described, without giving prior notice to such persons or class of persons to the greatest extent practicable; geographic data regarding the location of surface and subsurface infrastructure providing communications, water and electrical power distribution, pipelines for the distribution of natural gas, bulk petroleum products and other commodities, and other utilities; or data that is classified.”This provision would prohibit FPI from engaging in most, if not all, geospatial activities.

With regard to services, the bill eliminated FPI’s status as a preferred source. A Federal agency can only contract with FPI for services, such as GIS, CAD, scanning, digitizing, if the buying agency’s contracting officers determines FPI’s services meet the agency’s need in a number of criteria, can perform on time, and provides the service at a fair market price. This eliminates enormous advantages FPI has enjoyed in providing services. With regard to products, FPI’s previous mandatory source status is ended in favor of full and open competition.

The bill also prohibits FPI from providing services in the commercial market. Although FPI’s original 1930’s enabling law prohibited prison-made products from commercial market entry, the organization secured a legal opinion during the Clinton Administration that said since Congress mentioned products in the 1930’s, and not services, then sale of prisoner provided services must be permitted, notwithstanding that the United States did not have a service economy in the 1930s. Several state attorneys general have issued similar opinions with regard to state prisons.

Federal Prison Industries, Inc., which operates under the trade name UNICOR, is a self-supporting, wholly-owned government corporation that employs federal prison inmates. A program of the Justice Department’s Bureau of Prisons, FPI offers hundreds of products and services, including a number of data conversion activities.

A number of state prison industry operations have extensive GIS capabilities, including Colorado, Florida, and Texas, to name a few.

A recent MAPPS legislative issues poll found 51 percent of members continue to view prison industry reform legislation as a very important or somewhat important issue.

It has been reported that FPI won a contract from the Corps of Engineers to make signs. The funding came from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, ARRA, commonly known as the stimulus bill. While that bill was intended to put law-abiding, unemployed Americans back to work, not to support inmates, the expenditure of Federal ARRA funds on prison industries is being investigated by Congress.

Here is a news story about the bill.

Under H.R. 3634, FPI/UNICOR would be required to submit a detailed analysis of the impact to the private sector before entering into new product markets and would not be able to sell products commercially or internationally; the only customer could be the federal government. It also prohibits agencies from contracting with FPI in which inmates would have access to sensitive or classified information.

"This bill gives the taxpayer the greatest value for their hard-earned money by forcing federal agencies to bid for fair and reasonable prices and for products that best suit their needs. The bill preserves market access for these products or services to the hard-working men and women of our districts. This is simply one more easy, common sense way to preserve jobs and help restore economic security for America," Huizenga said.

"This legislation will protect the jobs of hard-working American taxpayers while providing valuable alternative rehabilitative opportunities to better prepare inmates for a successful return to society. It is a workable, bipartisan solution to the problem," Rep. Maloney added.

"It is time to allow for fair competition for U.S. manufacturers," according to Rep. Frank.

"We should be looking to make government more efficient and cost-effective, and this bill does that. I support this legislation because it will save taxpayer money and open up the contracting process to competition by allowing businesses to bid for these contracts," Sensenbrenner said.

Other examples of the industries FPI competes in include: clothing and textiles, electronics, vehicular components and fleet management, industrial products, office furniture, electronics recycling, and services such as call center and data and document conversion.

The bill has already gathered interest from a broad coalition of business groups and has a bipartisan list of supporters in Congress from all across America. Original co-sponsors include Reps. Donald Manzullo (R-IL), Edward Royce, (R-CA), Patrick Tiberi (R-OH), and John Olver (D-MA).

In the past, studies by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found FPI products and services did not meet agency requirements, were not delivered in a timely manner, and were at times more expensive that the private sector.

Tags:  Competition  Congress  FPI  Jobs  MAPPS  Prison  Private Sector  Reform 

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House Highway Bill Transforms Role of Government, Private Sector

Posted By John Palatiello, Tuesday, February 14, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The U.S. House of Representatives is beginning debate on H.R. 7, the American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act, commonly known as the "Highway Bill”.

There are numerous opportunities for greater private sector participation in the financing and delivery of infrastructure or public works. Dr. Adrian Moore of the Reason Foundation summarized the need for increased utilization of the private sector in transportation when he told Congress in 2004, "the opportunities for private sector participation in transportation services runs a wide range. In many cases government agencies compete with private service providers or have forced private providers out of the market in order to maximize revenue for government services. In such instances the market would provide transportation services if government competition or regulation were removed.” He concluded, "Private sector participation in transportation services will either take the form of market provision or of provision under contract with a government agency in a public-private partnership. Government transportation services should not be allowed to compete with private services, nor should state or local governments ban or restrict private services to reduce competition with government services.”

The American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act, unveiled by Speaker John Boehner, Representatives John Mica and John J. Duncan, Jr. and other members of Congress, transforms the way the nation will design, build, own, operate and maintain these public works. For the first time in modern history, Congress is considering a bill that encourages, enables and empowers private companies to contribute to the nation’s infrastructure needs. Given the grade of "D” on the American Society of Civil Engineers infrastructure report card, and the estimated $2.2 trillion price tag for bringing these facilities up to a passing grade, private products, services and investment are critically needed. Numerous provisions in the House bill do just that.

H.R. 7 provides for public-private partnerships for new toll highways, provisions to eliminate government competition in rest stops, buses, and other aspects of transportation and infrastructure. There are provisions encouraging use of the private sector for engineering and design services. And most important to MAPPS, the bill provides a long-overdue strengthening of current law regarding utilization of the private sector for surveying and mapping activities.

Since the original enactment of the federal-aid highway program in 1956, the law has provided that the private sector should be utilized for photogrammetric surveying and mapping activities. When Congress enacted the National Highway System Act in 1995, the provision (33 USC 306) was strengthened to require the Secretary to "issue guidance to encourage States to utilize, to the maximum extent practicable, private sector sources for surveying and mapping services for projects”.

Other than issuing a 1½ page guidance memorandum in 1998, the U.S. Department of Transportation and Federal Highway Administration have done little to implement, enforce or otherwise provide oversight of this provision. As a result, over the past 13 years, the opposite of the intent of Congress has occurred. In many state highway departments, scarce gas tax dollars are dedicated to operating in-house surveying and mapping functions that duplicate and compete with the private sector.

MAPPS members have long complained that a number of state DoT’s have used Federal highway money to build in-house capabilities in surveying and mapping. Numerous states have their own airplanes and cameras for mapping aerial photography, analytical stereoplotters (mapping computers), GPS satellite surveying receivers, LIDAR systems, photographic laboratories, and other expensive equipment to perform services already available from private firms. With the recent advent of mobile mapping systems, private firms are once again experiencing state DoTs purchasing equipment for in-house activities without regard for the availability of mobile mapping services from private firms that have already invested in such systems. Some state DOT's even market these services outside their own agency, performing work for other state agencies, city and county government, even non-government organizations, in direct competition with the private sector.

FHwA has not monitored State compliance with current Federal law and does not conduct audits or in any way perform oversight of State transportation agencies, which are expending Federal funds, to determine if these surveying and mapping programs are being operated in the most efficient and cost effective manner, to fully implement section 306, or to prevent government competition with the private sector.

Section 1707 of H.R. 7 strengthens the current law provision on utilization of the private sector for surveying and mapping by state DoTs. It makes the policy on private sector reliance mandatory rather than discretionary, and requires US DOT and FHwA to take more action on an ongoing basis to assure that states utilize, and do not duplicate or compete with, private mapping firms.

If the debate in the Presidential campaign has taught us one thing, it is that profit is not a dirty word. Harnessing the power of profit and the free enterprise system can advance the Nation’s Infrastructure needs.

Contact your Congressman TODAY and deliver a simple message: "Vote "YES” on H.R. 7”.

Tags:  Congress  DoT  Highway  mapping  Private Sector  surveying  Transportation 

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MAPPS Launches New Website

Posted By John Palatiello, Monday, February 13, 2012
On behalf of the entire MAPPS staff, I am pleased to announce that the new MAPPS website will be launched overnight tonight. Our url will remain the same: www.mapps.org, but our look will be different and we believe your experience on our site will be enhanced and far more interactive than on our previous site.

The new website will allow members to easily register for conferences and events, stay informed with the latest news that affects the geospatial profession, and connect with colleagues within the MAPPS membership.

More detailed information will be shared with you over the coming days, including ways to easily update your firm’s information and that of each contact to MAPPS within your firm. If your firm provided MAPPS with a company logo and description about your firm, that information will already be loaded on your firm’s "profile wall.”

Username and passwords will be emailed to each MAPPS contact Tuesday morning, along with information highlighting some of the enhancements we have made. At that time, you will be able to register for several upcoming events, including the MAPPS Federal Programs Conference. You will also have access to the presentations from the MAPPS Winter Conference.

While we have made every attempt to make the transition to the new site a smooth one, we appreciate your understanding if there are a few bumps along the way. As always, we value our members comments, so please do not hesitate to contact Tammy Joslyn, MAPPS Member Services Manager, if you have any questions or concerns.

Sincerely,


John M. Palatiello
MAPPS Executive Director

Tags:  MAPPS  website 

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Breaking News: SBA Defines a Small Business in Surveying/Mapping as $14 Million

Posted By John Palatiello, Friday, February 10, 2012
The Small Business Administration has announced today a final rule establishing a $14 million "size standard" or definition of a small business in surveying and mapping.

Read the notice in the Federal Register.  

As you will see, the comments MAPPS submitted were instructive and useful to SBA in reaching its final decision.

The rule is effective March 12, 2012.


MAPPS is available for any questions or comments, please contact staff at 703-787-6996 or john@mapps.org.  

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NOAA's Reorganization and Transfer

Posted By Administrator, Monday, January 16, 2012
Updated: Thursday, February 2, 2012
NOAA’s  Arc de Triomphe?

President Obama has proposed a reorganization plan to consolidate the Federal government’s business, export and commercial functions into one agency.  The Commerce Department, to be renamed, will include the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, Export-Import Bank, Overseas Private Investment Corporation, Trade and Development Agency and Small Business Administration.  USTR, TDA and SBA have been speakers and participants in recent MAPPS meetings.

Moving out of the Commerce Department will be the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).  The president proposes to move it to the Department of the Interior.

This raises a series of interesting questions for members of MAPPS and the geospatial community at large.

Our member firms interact with NOAA in a variety of ways.  The National Geodetic Survey (NGS) interfaces with virtually every surveying and mapping practitioner.  All the prime contractors, and a number of subcontractors, on NOAA’s shoreline mapping program, are MAPPS member firms. 

Virtually every prime contractor, and numerous subcontractors, in NOAA’s hydrographic survey program, is a MAPPS member firm.  The work done at NOAA’s Coastal Services Center (CSC) in Charleston, SC, again through MAPPS member firms as prime and sub contractors, and the way it utilizes the private sector for geospatial products and services to provide assistance to states and localities on the nation’s coasts, has been cited as a "best practices” model that should be more extensively emulated throughout NOAA’s National Ocean Service (NOS). The Office of Space Commercialization, once a separate entity in Commerce, was merged into NOAA during the Bush Administration.  And our member firms that operate high resolution commercial remote sensing satellites are licensed by NOAA’s National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service (NESDIS), through NOAA's Commercial Remote Sensing Regulatory Affairs Office (CRSRAO), and it is the home of the Advisory Committee on Commercial Remote Sensing (ACCRS).

One of the reasons for the reorganization was first articulated by President Obama in his State of the Union Address last year, and subsequently repeated.  "The Interior Department is in charge of salmon while they're in fresh water, but the Commerce Department handles them when they're in saltwater," he quipped. "And I hear it gets even more complicated once they're smoked."

There is already a proliferation of geospatial activities within the Department of the Interior.  This has been well documented in a GAO report on Federal geospatial activities (Geospatial Information: Better Coordination Needed to Identify and Reduce Duplicative Investments, GAO-04-703, June 2004) and the 1998 NAPA study (Geographic Information for the 21st Century, National Academy of Public Administration, January 1998).

In a Congressional hearing last March, the following colloquy took place between Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO) and MAPPS Executive Director John Palatiello:

"Mr. Lamborn.  Mr. Palatiello, you mentioned government duplication in the mapping area. Can you be more specific on what can be done to avoid this duplication and the expense that goes along with duplication? And I would like to say, I approve of what -- and am happy that President Obama in his State of the Union address addressed duplication. He was talking about salmon, I think, and two different programs. And he used a humorous example, but it is unfortunate that we have to, in this time of huge debts, pay money for duplicative programs. Please continue.

Mr. Palatiello. You are exactly right, and the President did say that salmon in the freshwater are the responsibility of the Interior Department, and once it reaches saltwater, it is the Commerce Department. And then he said he hears it gets more complicated once they are smoked.  Well, the same thing can be said about mapping. You want a topographic map? You go to USGS. You want to add a flood plain? You go to FEMA. You want to show the shoreline? You go to NOAA. So the same type of stovepiping and lack of coordination that the President was talking about with regard to salmon is a direct corollary to the same problem we have with regard to mapping. Now, to the Administration's credit, they have launched something called the geospatial platform, which is an attempt to build a cloud computing environment for sharing of data. And I think that is a very good step in the right direction. The problem is the structure, though. When you have 40-plus Federal agencies doing a variety of different types of mapping, that is a problem.”

If NOAA is moved to the Department of the Interior, should it be part of USGS or be a distinct entity within the department.  Should all the mapping, charting, geodesy, remote sensing and geospatial activities of NOAA be integrated with and currently spread among various agencies (USGS, BLM, NPS, FWS and others) into a consolidated geospatial bureau reporting directly to the Secretary of the Interior?

NOAA operates the NOAA Corps, a uniformed military-like workforce with officers and a personnel system that differs from regular civil service. The largest portion of the NOAA Corps officers is in the mapping, charting and geodesy activities of NOAA. Will the NOAA Corps be dismantled under the reorganization plan?  Terminating the NOAA Corps was proposed by then-Vice President Al Gore in his "Reinventing Government” program, but opposition for the NOAA Corps officers and their families forced the idea to be dropped.  Imposing the NOAA Corps on the Interior Department would be a difficult personnel transition, either by dismantling the Corps and ingesting it into the civilian personnel system, or asking Interior to simply assume responsibility for management of the NOAA Corps.

The NESDIS program, which licenses high resolution commercial remote sensing satellites systems, may not belong in Interior.  This is a regulatory and business promotion activity.  When the licensing of commercial satellite remote sensing systems was begun during the Clinton Administration, there was a heated debate over whether the licensing agency should be in the State or Commerce Department.  There was fear that there would be too much concern over foreign policy issues if this office were in State, resulting in too much regulation and restriction on the satellite operators.  Should this activity move to Interior, which is not a regulatory or business promotion agency, or remain with the renamed Department of Commerce?

Another question surrounding a move of NOAA to USGS is the fact that historically, USGS has been too willing to accept new responsibilities, but failed to secure sufficient funding to support traditional, not to mention new, responsibilities.  This ends up hurting existing programs.  This has been particularly true of the cooperative topographic mapping program in USGS, which was recently subject to re-programming to cover the deficit in operational income from LANDSAT.

When legislation to dismantle the Department of Commerce was prominent in Congress in the mid-1990’s, Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA) introduced a bill (H.R. 2667, 105th Congress, 1997) that would have transferred the mapping, charting, and geodesy functions to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.  The bill also provided that "the Secretary of the Army, acting through the Chief of Engineers of Army Corps of Engineers, shall terminate any functions transferred … that are performed by the private sector or obtain by contract from the private sector those functions that are commercial in nature and are necessary to carry out inherently governmental functions.”  Does the Corps of Engineers make more sense as a new home for the NOS functions of NOAA?  There are a number of reasons why such a transfer is worthy of consideration.

There are NOAA and Corps of Engineers programs that are quite similar.  NOAA conducts hydrographic surveys and publishes charts on the coasts, shorelines and Great Lakes.  The Corps of Engineers conducts hydrographic surveys and publishes charts of the inland waterway system.  While accurate data is not presently available, at the time of the introduction of Rep. Royce’s bill, the Corps of Engineers had more geodesists on staff than NOAA, even though NOAA operates the NGS.  The Corps is the most experienced procurer of mapping, charting and geodesy services in the Federal Government.  The Corps has literally written the book (actually a manual) on Brooks Act, QBS contracting, and teaches a course for government officials.  Several NOAA personnel who award contracts for shoreline mapping, hydrographic surveys and the CSC, have taken the Corps’ course, as have those in USGS.  While both NOAA and USGS have become adept at using QBS, the depth and breadth of the Corps of Engineers is unsurpassed in the Federal government. Finally, integrating the NOAA Corps into the military personnel system already in place in the Army would be significantly easier than integrating or managing the NOAA Corps in the Interior Department. 

The reorganization plan must be approved by Congress.  There will be an opportunity for the geospatial community’s voice to be heard.  Share your views and join in the discussion.

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MAPPS Signs Coalition Letter Urging President and Congress to Invest in Construction and Design

Posted By Nick Palatiello, Tuesday, December 20, 2011
MAPPS joined 44 construction and design groups in a letter (December 7) to President Obama and Congress to pass legislation providing certainty in the construction community.

The letter has three "asks" for the President and Congress.

  1. Pass and sign surface transportation, aviation, water resources, and clean water and drinking water infrastructure authorization bills. Enactment of these authorizations will immediately provide programmatic and fiscal certainty that will help job creators in every state put people back to work.

  2. Pass and sign appropriations bills for the remainder of fiscal year 2012. Short-term continuing resolutions provide little or no certainty to public agencies or those who perform work for them. In fact, our members say that the failure to pass routine authorizations and appropriations bills undermines business confidence.

  3. Increase public-private partnerships. Any effort to reinvigorate the design and construction markets must successfully jumpstart new privately-funded construction. The strength of the private sector market is the single largest determining factor in the health of the construction industry. The best way to boost private demand for construction is to put in place pro-growth policies that will boost economic expansion.

The coalition posted the above ad in Roll Call, a newspaper focused on Congress, on December 8.




Download File (PDF)

Tags:  Congress  construction  jobs  Letters  mapping 

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