Posted By John Palatiello,
Tuesday, July 22, 2014
Updated: Tuesday, July 22, 2014
Support is growing for 3DEP, the USGS program to develop nationwide elevation coverage of the United States.
MAPPS led the effort to generate stakeholder support for 3DEP funding on Congress. MAPPS Government Affairs Manager John “JB” Byrd coordinated letters of support from MAPPS and numerous other groups and I had the privilege of testifying before the House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee. The effort bore fruit. Last week, the House Appropriations Committee approved its fiscal year 2015 bill and included the following in its explanatory committee report (page 38), “Core Science Systems.—The Committee recommends $106,151,000 for core science systems, $2,656,000 below the fiscal year 2014 enacted level and $3,249,000 below the budget request. The Committee recommendation includes the requested increases for the Big Earth Data Initiative; Ecosystem Information; the 3–D Elevation Program; the Alaska mapping project; and the National Map Modernization effort.” The figures in the President’s request are $5 million for 3DEP, $236,000 for Alaska Mapping, $1.9 million for The National Map Modernization, and $60,428,000 for the National Geospatial Program.
There was also a very exciting announcement from the White House this week. The Obama Administration announced a climate change data initiative that includes 3DEP. John Byrd and I met with a member of the White House staff, Bina Venkatarman, Senior Advisor for Climate Change Innovation, to discuss the role 3DEP and other geospatial data play in verifying, validating, monitoring and measuring the alleged effects of climate change. The White House initiative provides, “Developing advanced mapping data and tools. The Department of the Interior’s U.S. Geological Survey and other Federal agencies today launched a $13.1 million 3-D Elevation Program partnership designed to bring Federal agencies, academia, corporate entities, states, tribes, and communities together to develop advanced 3-dimensional mapping data of the United States. These data and related tools will be used in the areas of flood risk management, water resource planning, mitigation of coastal erosion and storm surge impacts, and identification of landslide hazards as an essential component of supporting action on climate resilience.
3D Model provided by Woolpert, Inc. of the southern side of Fire Island, Long Island, NY.
On July 18, 2014, the USGS issued a Broad Agency Announcement that provides detailed information on how to partner with the USGS and other Federal agencies to acquire high-quality 3D data. Information and contacts are now available at FedBizOps. Offerors may contribute funds toward a USGS lidar data acquisition activity or they may request 3DEP funds toward a lidar data acquisition activity where the requesting partner is the acquiring authority. Federal agencies, state and local governments, tribes, academic institutions and the private sector are eligible to submit pre-proposals.
USGS is holding a Congressional briefing on its 3DEP program Friday, July 25 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.
The 11:00 am briefing on the House of Representatives side of the Congress/Capitol is open to Congressional staff, MAPPS members, and other supportive groups from the general public. It will be in 2325 Rayburn House Office Building.
An afternoon briefing on the Senate side is CLOSED to the public and is limited to Senate staff. It is at 2:00 pm in SD-366, Dirksen Senate Office Building.
All MAPPS members are welcome to attend the morning session. Please encourage any Congressional staff with whom you are familiar or have relationships to attend their respective sessions (House staff in the morning, Senate staff in the afternoon). In particular, follow-up with all staff with whom you met during the MAPPS Federal Programs Conference and encourage them to attend the briefing.
MAPPS is a sponsor of the event and will host lunch at the House event.
In a recent column in LiDAR News, I wrote about the need for the geospatial community to contact Congress in support of the U.S. Geological Survey’s (USGS) 3D elevation program, commonly referred to as 3DEP. In the article, I highlight the importance of this national program and the benefits that can be realized:
3DEP will satisfy the growing demand for consistent, high-quality elevation data and a wide range of other three-dimensional representations of the Nation's natural and constructed features. Among the applications that will benefit from 3DEP data are flood risk management, agriculture, water supply, homeland security, renewable energy, aviation safety, and other areas. Indeed, USGS has identified more than 600 applications that would benefit from such enhanced elevation data. 3DEP will promote economic growth, facilitate responsible environmental protection and resource development and management, assist with infrastructure improvement, and generally enhance the quality of life of all Americans.
In an effort to educate Congress, a letter has been prepared for the geospatial community to send to your Congressmen and Senators. The letter is attached to the bottom of this post.
To identify your Congressman and Senators, use this helpful link, using your zip code. Remember, your home and office may be in two different Congressional districts, so be sure to write both Representatives.
Here are some other key points to remember in writing to your legislators:
•Email or fax are the preferred communication methods (not regular U.S. mail)
•Be courteous and respectful in all communications. Don't use threats.
•Cover only one issue per letter. Don’t add other issues to this letter!
•Explain how the issue would affect you and/or your organization or community.
•Limit your comments to one page or two at most. Elected officials hear from hundreds of constituents’ daily so a brief letter is more effective than a multi-page document.
The letter provided below should be used and edited to insert your name and organization, as well as the name of the Congressman or Senator. We have highlighted the areas that you should amend. MAPPS, the National Society of Professional Surveyors (NSPS), the National Digital Elevation Program, National States Geographic Information Council (NSGIC), the Coalition of Geospatial Organizations (COGO), the Association of American State Geologists (AAGS), the National Digital Elevation Program (NDEP), and the National Geospatial Advisory Committee (NGAC) have endorsed 3DEP. However, Congress still needs to hear from the broad geospatial profession.
This is an issue that unites every segment of the geospatial profession from public to private sector. We urge you to take a moment to write your Congressmen and Senators and ask them to work with the House and Senate Appropriations Committees, respectively, to assure the President’s requested level of funding for these activities, if not increase them.
Now is the time to contact Congress, do not delay!
Posted By Nick Palatiello,
Tuesday, April 22, 2014
MAPPS testified in favor of 3DEP funding before the Interior Appropriations Subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives on April 10 indicating the strong support within MAPPS for national LIDAR data that will provide a very positive return on investment and serve of variety of elevation needs for government at all levels, as well as the private sector.
President Obama has included funding for 3DEP in his budget request to Congress, and MAPPS testimony urged Congress to fund that request, or increase the amount if possible.
USGS has updated its national LIDAR specification to reflect the 3DEP program and other revisions. MAPPS will host a webinar with Karl Heidemann, USGS EROS Center, on the USGS Base LIDAR Specification this Thursday, April 24 at 1:00 PM Eastern Time. Register here.
Posted By Nick Palatiello,
Friday, September 13, 2013
Nick Palatiello, MAPPS Assistant Executive Director for External Affairs, provides an update on MAPPS activities. Welcome new member firm, recording of a webinar with USGS on 3DEP, meeting with the Federal Aviation Administration on LIDAR issues, program announcement for the Geospatial & Engineering International Conference and a new blog post on the status of a FY14 budget.
Posted By Nick Palatiello,
Tuesday, April 16, 2013
Updated: Thursday, September 5, 2013
President Obama’s proposed
FY 14 budget, released April 10, 2013, includes $11 million in funding for
a 3D Elevation Program (3DEP) in the United States Geological Survey
"We commend President Obama and his administration for their
recognition of the importance of elevation data for the Nation and the proposed
investment in geospatial activities that can save tax payers dollars by
accurately mapping the nation with modern technology,” said John Palatiello,
MAPPS Executive Director. "In light of the recent GAO report calling for a
reduction in duplication of mapping activities, the 3-D Elevation Program
(3DEP) is an example of a program that can achieve this goal by leveraging
various agency investments and contracting
with the private sector to reduce
government duplication of and unfair
competition with the private sector.
Through the leadership of USGS, the 3DEP program is also reducing duplication
within the government by bringing agency stakeholders together to ‘map it once
and use it many times’ through the coordination of mapping data needs.”
The USGS will use the Geospatial Products and Services
Contract (GPSC) as the acquisition vehicle for the collection of LIDAR and
IFSAR data for the 3DEP program. USGS is
working with states and other federal agencies to increase the area in which
data is collected and to reduce duplication.
3DEP is highlighted within the "Natural Hazards” program
with the Department of the Interior
Budget for USGS (page 56) and includes $9.0 million for the 3DEP program
for the collection LIDAR, $1.0 million for IFSAR data collection and mapping in
Alaska and an estimated $850,000 for the collection of priority ecosystem assessments,
which will consist of LIDAR acquisition.
This is only the President’s proposed budget. To be fully
funded, 3DEP and other programs within the President’s budget will need to
receive appropriations from Congress. MAPPS will continue to work with Congress
and advocate the value that is realized by government agencies and the citizens
of the United States by investing in geospatial technologies and utilizing the
capabilities and services provided by the private sector.
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
Posted By Nick Palatiello,
Tuesday, January 15, 2013
The USGS has launched a program to provide a national elevation dataset to a common standard with scheduled updates. The 3DEP program (http://nationalmap.gov/3DEP/) is based on a recommended 8-year acquisition cycle at a cost of $146 million per year. In response to a request from USGS, MAPPS, the association of private sector geospatial firms, conducted an analysis of existing and future private sector LIDAR data acquisition capacity and capability.
In a response to USGS, MAPPS has confirmed that a capable, qualified private sector capacity exists to fulfill the LIDAR data acquisition requirements of 3DEP.
Using a conservative "rule of thumb" estimate of a firm being able to generate $3 million in fees per LIDAR unit per year, there would need to be 50 (rounded) operational units in the commercial sector in the U.S. to accomplish 3DEP consistent with the projected annual funding.
MAPPS estimates there are more than 100 operational LIDAR units in the commercial sector in the U.S. that can meet the NEEA/3DEP standards and specifications. This includes units brought into production within the past six years and which are capable of large area collections, and excludes older systems and those used for corridors or similarly limited areas. Therefore, an acquisition capacity more than adequate to accomplish the requirements of 3DEP exists in the U.S. private sector.
Additionally, 3DEP would stimulate additional capacity, as a "build it and they will come” phenomena would exist if 3DEP is fully funded. Firms engaged in LIDAR acquisition would likely secure additional units to increase the collection of data. We estimate that as many as 15 additional units would be purchased annually by service firms in the first years of 3DEP if certainty of full funding is provided. The manufacturing capacity of LIDAR sensor instruments is more than sufficient to meet this demand.
Under the current economic climate, it is reasonable to assume that there is adequate capacity in the market to fulfill current needs. Indeed there is excess capacity. According to the biannual MAPPS Economic Survey, only 35 percent of MAPPS member firms are currently operating at full capacity. There is existing LIDAR capacity to satisfy current requirements, 3DEP, and future market growth, as well as an ability for acquisition capabilities to grow to meet prospective increase in demand.
Utilizing the Geospatial Products and Services Contract (GPSC), a suite of multiple-award USGS contracts with the private sector that has been competitively procured via the qualifications based selection process pursuant to 40 USC 1101 and FAR part 36.6, provides a public-private partnership between USGS and the private sector to accomplish 3DEP via task orders for LIDAR acquisition. Based on information collected from firms in its membership, MAPPS is confident the equipment infrastructure, service capacity and contract mechanism is in place to efficiently implement the 3DEP program at its fully funded level.
In an economy where you are counting every dollar, it is good to know you can count on MAPPS!
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