Posted By Nick Palatiello,
Friday, February 28, 2014
Want to learn more about the four issues MAPPS will be taking to Congress as part of the 2014 Federal Programs Conference? Register for one of our three remaining webinars! Each issue will be discussed Thursday afternoons at 3:00 PM (Eastern) through March 20. Register today!
The Federal Programs Conference is open to MAPPS members only. MAPPS members April is at the peak of the Cherry Blossom festival in Washington, DC. Reserve your hotel room and register today!
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
The Map It Once, Use It Many Times Act(H.R.
4233) introduced by Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.) in March 2012, would
streamline federal bureaucracy dealing with geospatial activities. MAPPS,
which advocates passage of the bill, is pleased to see that H.R.
4233 is helping to stimulate a discussion on how to best deploy
geospatial data, services, products and technologies in the Federal
government and with non-federal stakeholders.
To further that discussion, MAPPS will be testifying on the bill in an oversight and legislative field hearing
being held by the U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Natural
Resources, Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources, on Thursday,
May 3, 2012, in Colorado Springs, Colo. MAPPS will also testify on H.R.
1620, the Federal Land Asset Inventory Reform (FLAIR) Act. "These
legislative initiatives, if enacted, would allow the federal government
to have a comprehensive understanding of what agencies are involved in
geospatial activities and what land assets the federal government owns
and operates,” said Nick Pallatiello, assistant executive director for
external affairs. "The obstacles facing the federal government's
utilization of geospatial are not technical; they are political and
In an interview at SPAR International 2012, Palatiello talked about the
Map It Once, Use It Many Times Act. He also addressed other initiatives
currently being pursued by MAPPS, including the formation of new state
chapters and hot topics on the agenda at the MAPPS Summer Conference. Watch the video above to learn more.
Additional details about the field hearing will be posted following the May 3 event.
Posted By Nick Palatiello,
Thursday, June 9, 2011
Updated: Thursday, August 11, 2011
MAPPS has been deeply involved in a number of important issues of late, so this blog post will be a potpourri on several topics of interest to the private geospatial community.
The Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) met in Washington, DC on June 8. Surprisingly and disappointingly, it was the first meeting of the group responsible for coordination of federal geospatial activities since President Obama took office 2½ years ago. The agenda was long on reports and short on votes, decisions, and actions. In fact, no votes were taken or policy decisions made. A lot of frustration was expressed and promises were made for action before the next meeting, the date of which was not established. I was pleased to be recognized by Acting Chair, Assistant Secretary of the Interior Anne Castle, to express concern for three threats to the geospatial community – government service and private practice alike. Those were the threat the LightSquared application to the FCC poses for interference with GPS signals and all GPS users, the FCC "privacy” rules that propose to limit the collection, storage and use of "precise geolocation data” without defining that term, and the criminalization of directing laser pointers at aircraft or their flight path, with LiDAR manufacturers’ interpreting the definition of the term "laser pointer” to include LiDAR. Fortunately, Ms. Castle took note of all three and agreed to follow up on each.
Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Mike Lee (R-UT) have introduced a Senate version of the Federal Land Asset Inventory Reform (FLAIR) Act, to provide a current, accurate inventory of all land owned by the federal government, and to have an inventory of existing inventories conducted to identify those that are out of date, obsolete, redundant, non-interoperable or can otherwise be eliminated in favor of the new, current, accurate GIS-based cadaster. S. 1153 is a companion to H.R. 1620, which was introduced in the House earlier this year by Rep. Ron Kind (R-WI) and Rob Bishop (R-UT). ACSM and NSGIC are among the groups that have joined MAPPS in support of the bill in the past. The bill was also recommended by the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences. The NRC/NAS report recommendations have in turn been endorsed by the National Geospatial Advisory Committee (NGAC) and the Coalition of Geospatial Organizations (COGO).
The issue of government duplicating and competing with the private sector in the performance of commercially-available activities is getting a lot of attention these days.
The tragic tornado that hit Joplin, MO has also stirred up a storm of controversy. NOAA dispatches an aircraft from Tampa, FL to capture aerial imagery. Problem is, such digital aerial imagery had already been acquired, days earlier, by two private firms in Missouri, Surdex and MJ Harden. The NOAA aerial photography unit has been documented by the Commerce Department Inspector General as being inferior to the private sector in cost and quality and privatization of the government capability has been recommended. Moreover, a federal law, known as the Economy Act, implemented in the Federal Acquisition Regulation, requires an agency proposing to provide a service to another agency to prepare a determination and findings (D&F) that "the supplies or services cannot be obtained as conveniently or economically by contracting directly with a private source.” It is not known if NOAA prepared the D&F or if it did, how did it justify being more convenient or economical than aerial imagery already acquired.
The U.S. of Representatives has tackled two aspects of government performing commercial activities. An amendment to the National Defense Authorization Bill for 2012 by Rep. Nan Hayworth (R-NY) puts Congress on record as being opposed to insourcing - an Obama Administration program to convert work currently performed by private sector contractor firms to performance by Federal government employees. In her speech in the House debate, Rep. Hayworth mentioned mapping as an example of a commercial activity that has been insourced in some agencies. The Hayworth amendment was approved on a voice vote.
A provision in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) appropriations bill for fiscal year 2012 was stripped of a provision that would have prevented DHS from contracting out activities currently carried out by government employees, even if commercially available. The amendment to remove the anti-free enterprise language, offered by Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX), was approved by a 218-204 vote.
More news about MAPPS activities will be available next week in our bi-montly newsletter FLIGHTLINE, a link will be posted on the blog. Additionally, MAPPS is gearing up for a full program at the 2011 Summer Conference June 26-30 in Bolton Landing (Lake George), NY.
Posted By Nick Palatiello,
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Updated: Thursday, August 11, 2011
Numerous policy and market opportunity pronouncements were unveiled at the 20th annual MAPPS Federal Programs Conference, held March 15-16 in Washington, DC. More than 90 MAPPS member firm principals, owners, partners and senior pro- fessionals converged in the nation's capital for briefings and meetings with more than 20 Federal agency officials, as well as more than 150 vis- its to the offices of Represen- tatives and Senators in the U.S. Congress.
At the Federal agency briefings on March 15, MAPPS members were treated to first-look information that could lead to upcoming business opportunities for private geo- spatial firms. The National Geospatial Intelligence Agency’s (NGA’s) Dennis Morgan announced that its request for proposals for Geospatial Intelligence (GeoINT) Data Readiness (GDR) contacts, the successor to the current Global Geospatial Intelligence (GGI) contracts, will be issued later this year. Additionally, FEMA‟s Paul Rooney noted the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released its request for qualifications from firms for contracts for Remote Sensing to Support Incident Management and Homeland Security days be- fore the MAPPS session.
While MAPPS was in Washington, the Small Business Administration (SBA) released its proposal to revise "size standards” or definitions of small businesses in a variety of Professional, Technical, and Scientific Services categories. The classification for surveying and mapping, as well as architecture and engineering, is proposed to rise from $4.5 to $19 million in gross annual receipts, measured on a three year average.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) provided an update on its role in producing a national broadband map, compiled from individual state mapping efforts, and plans for a next-gen 911 system. Michael Byrne, the Geo- spatial Information Officer (GIO) of the FCC, assured MAPPS members that the FCC is well aware of the GPS interference posed by the LightSquared application, that the FCC understands the concerns expressed by MAPPS and others in our community, and that the LightSquared application will either be rejected or amended to assure no interference with GPS. While noting he could not comment on an ongoing investigation, Byrne said FCC’s inquiry of certain Google activities will not result in regulation of the broader geospatial community. He reported the caution provided by MAPPS was helpful in educating the FCC on the activities of the private geospatial profession. The privacy issue was also addressed by Karen Siderelis, GIO of the Department of the Interior and chairman of the Federal Geographic Data Committee’s (FGDC)’s executive committee. She reported on a meeting between FGDC and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) staff in which the FTC said it was "flooded” with comments on proposed regulations prohibiting the collection, storage or use of "precise geolocation data" without a citizens' prior approval. Siderelis said the FTC admitted it inappropriately used the term, resulting in an "unintended consequence” that would be corrected in the final rule. FTC is also considering a work- shop with the geospatial community to identify ways to implement privacy protections against phishing and cyber stalking, without disturbing the legitimate activities of geospatial firms.
Both Siderelis and BLM Chief Cadastral Surveyor Don Buhler predicted a demand in boundary data on Indian lands resulting from settlement of the Cobell case. Buhler reported the Interior Department’s Inspector General found "the Bureau of Land Management's Cadastral Survey program was missing the opportunity to identify and perform surveys on high risk lands where significant potential revenues could be collected by the Department or Indian tribes. Proper survey and management of high risk lands with antiquated surveys has the potential to generate hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue from lands with valuable resources.”
Bureau shared information on research and development opportunities for the 2020 Census to exploit technology on a secure (web) exchange process for ad- dress and spatial data, ways to ingest spatial and address data from partners, products and services that may facilitate the exchange of spatial and address data from Census to partners, and the use of imagery and change detection methods. She also said that the current Census policy that Title 13 restrictions prohibited sharing of master address file (MAF) and building structure point data is being reviewed.
David Kennedy, Assistant Administrator of NOAA for the National Ocean Service, provided details on a more than $80 million program for base mapping and charting activities, hydrographic surveys, integrated ocean and coastal mapping, and shoreline mapping. He also said an investigation was being launched in response to a MAPPS com- plaint about a recent bid for professional LiDAR data collection services in California that violated the Brooks Act and was awarded to a university.
On Wednesday, March 16, MAPPS members traveled to Capitol Hill to visit their Congressional delegations. As a result of the MAPPS efforts, ten cosponsors were secured for FEMA flood risk map reform legislation, seven lawmakers committed to cosponsoring the Federal Land Asset Inventory Reform (FLAIR) Act, providing a current, accurate, GIS-based inventory of Federal land ownership, nineteen Representatives and Senators pledged to cosponsor the Freedom from Government Competition Act and five members of the House agreed to introduce a bill to reform governance and coordination of Federal geospatial activities, known as the Map It Once, Use It Many Times (MIO-UIMT) Act.