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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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Top Ten Reasons to Attend the MAPPS Winter Meeting - #5, CFO Roundtable

Posted By Nick Palatiello, Thursday, December 20, 2012


The Chief Financial Officer of a geospatial firm has unique responsibilities, as well as issues and challenges to address.
At the MAPPS Winter Meeting, January 27 - 31, 2013 at the Trump International Hotel in Sunny Isles Beach, Florida, we're hosting a session to discuss CFO issues.

Representatives of a large firm and a small business in our profession present experiences and observations. This CFO Roundtable will be a historic first in the geospatial business.

Don't miss this session and the entire MAPPS Winter Conference, register today. Registration rates increase December 29.

To ensure you receive the special MAPPS conference rate be sure to make your reservations at the Trump International Resort before January 4. The hotel is easily accessible from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL) and Miami International Airport (MIA).

Special Non-Member Offer
Attend the MAPPS meeting as a non-member*, if your firm joins by the end of the conference on January 31 the difference between the non-member and member rate will be credited to your firms membership! Register for the conference before December 29 and you could receive a $770 credit! Register for the conference here.

*Membership in MAPPS is by firm not by individual unless an individual is an independent consultant. For more information about MAPPS membership, click here.
Top 10 Reasons:


Tags:  Business  CFO  Finance  Geospatial 

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MAPPS Tracks State Capitals

Posted By John "JB" Byrd, Friday, December 14, 2012

Members of MAPPS enjoy an extraordinary benefit that keeps them abreast of legislation in all 50 state legislatures that affect their business.

Since 1999, MAPPS has engaged the firm MultiState Associates, Inc. ( to monitor legislation in every State House. This early warning system provides private geospatial firms an ability to know about every bill introduced that could pose an opportunity or threat to their professional practice.

Using web-based technology and human intelligence in every state capitol, Multistate can identify any legislation with key words important to the MAPPS membership, such as mapping, surveying, photogrammetry, geospatial, geographic system, etc.

Once a bill has been introduced, a notice is sent to MAPPS staff, including a link to the text of the legislation and the key word. The MAPPS staff analyzes the legislation to determine its relevance to the membership. Notice of the bill’s introduction is often sent to key MAPPS member firm principals in that state. Additionally, bills are listed in Capitol Coverage, an electronic newsletter published twice a month, an exclusive benefit to MAPPS members that highlights the aforementioned state legislation, Federal legislation, procurement opportunities and relevant geospatial news.

Recently, the MAPPS-MultiState Program worked to perfection. A bill in the New Hampshire state House of Representatives was pre-filed for the 2013 session. While the text of the bill is not yet available, the short title was a warning bell, "prohibiting images of a person's residence to be taken from the air.” Upon being notified of this potentially harmful legislation, MAPPS staff contacted the bill’s sponsor. The state representative promptly responded, indicating the bill had not yet been drafted and that it was not intended to impact the legitimate business of aerial surveying, photogrammetry or remote sensing. Lines of communication between MAPPS and the state representative are now open and we are now in discussions on drafting a bill that accomplishes both our objectives.

In some cases, when MultiState informs MAPPS that a hearing on an important bill is scheduled, MAPPS staff will alert members in that state in an effort to deploy a firm principal to the capitol to testify. When a bill to include photogrammetry as the practice of land surveying, without a grandfather provision for experienced and qualified practicing photogrammetrists, was introduced in South Dakota several years ago, a principal of Horizons, Inc. (Rapid City, SD) was alerted, drove to the state capital of Pierre, and told lawmakers the bill would legislate him out of business. The bill was immediately amended to remove all references to photogrammetry. When a similar proposal was offered in South Carolina, MAPPS engaged Multistate to retain a lobbyist who was successful in immediately putting the brakes on the bill until an equitable grandfather provision could be added. Today, as a result of the MAPPS intervention, dozens of photogrammetrists are licensed to practice in South Carolina.

With the growth of state chapters in MAPPS, the Multistate system is an added arrow in the association’s quiver to keep members alert, aware and engaged in state level activities. Political intelligence is important to successful business, and MAPPS helps its members know how the landscape may be changing in their state.

In an economy where you are counting every dollar, it is good to know you can count on MAPPS.

Tags:  Aerial  Geospatial  Privacy  State Legislation  State License 

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GAO Reports Shortcomings in Federal Geospatial Coordination

Posted By John Palatiello, Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The long-awaited Government Accountability Office (GAO) study of Federal geospatial coordination – Geospatial Information: OMB and Agencies Need to Make Coordination a Priority to Reduce Duplication has been released.

The report is a rather damning indictment of the agencies' activities. There has been little improvement in coordination since the last time GAO looked at this (Better Coordination Needed to Identify and Reduce Duplicative Investments,GAO-04-703, June 23, 2004), and in some aspects, the situation has worsened.

MAPPS was consulted in the development of this study by Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT), chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, and Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), the panel’s ranking Republican, who requested the GAO review. Their committee has broad jurisdiction, including governmentwide policies, and has the ability to facilitate oversight and investigations of government activities.

While the report does not mention H.R. 4233, the "Map It Once, Use It Many Times” Act, introduced by Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO), chairman of the House subcommittee with jurisdiction over USGS, the home of the Federal Geographic Data Committee’s executive secretariat, GAO suggests that reforms, reorganizations and processes called for in the bill be implemented. Not the least of which are improving coordination and reducing duplication, to include a national strategy for coordinating geospatial investments.

Nor did GAO discuss the enactment of section 100220 of PL 112-141, the provision in the FEMA portion of the MAP-21 Act that calls for an innovative, coordinated funding pool for the collection of elevation data for flood mapping and other purposes. Other major items missed by GAO were reorganization ideas, such as a consolidated surveying and mapping administration, as was previously recommended by OMB in 1973 (the OMB report is not available on-line, but a history of federal mapping and geospatial coordination is found at and the National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA) ( Moreover, while GAO dedicated considerable attention to the Department of Commerce and its National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), GAO did not address the inefficiency, waste and duplication in NOAA’s aerial photography function ( Furthermore, there was no mention of the duplication that exists due to the interpretation by the Census Bureau (also part of the Commerce Department) of Title 13 restrictions on sharing geospatial data. Finally, while the report has a detailed discussion of parcel data, it fails to mention section 1094(3) of Public Law 111-203, the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (commonly referred to as "Dodd-Frank”), which amended the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA), to authorize the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to collect the "parcel number to permit geocoding” on mortgage transactions.

I was disappointed that GAO only interviewed me and apparently did not talk to anyone else in the private sector. The study team did not address issues I raised, such as how the government duplicates and competes with the private sector and how the language in OMB Circular A-16, or its Supplemental Guidance, on such duplication is either insufficient or ignored.

To be fair, there are positive things happening within various agencies, and progress is being made, to improve coordination, avoid duplication and enhance opportunities for the private sector. GAO acknowledged the USGS effort on a National Enhanced Elevation Assessment, which MAPPS has supported, that effort’s maturity into a viable 3DEP initiative was not mentioned. MAPPS has worked closely to make 3DEP a reality, and the MAP-21 provision, mentioned above, is a notable development. GAO endorsed the establishment or designation of a senior geospatial official in cabinet agencies, something MAPPS has long advocated. It was MAPPS, after all, that was instrumental in securing legislation that created a Geospatial Management Office in the Department of Homeland Security. Moreover, the successful coordination and partnership efforts carried out by the NOAA Coastal Services Center through its "Digital Coast" activity, which MAPPS has called a "best practices” model in testimony before Congress, also did not attract GAO’s attention. Additionally, GAO failed to recognize that USGS, through the Geospatial Information Office at Department of the Interior and the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC), is developing a "Data as a Service” component to the Geospatial Platform that will enable agencies to utilize QBS, ID/IQ contracts and provide substantive opportunities for numerous private sector firms.

Senator Lieberman is retiring and while Senator Collins is term-limited as the ranking member of the governmental affairs committee, she is expected to remain on the panel. Nevertheless, the report provides valuable information for oversight and reform by Congress and the Obama Administration. Moreover, it throws another log on the fire of examples of government duplication compiled by Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) , who is next in line to succeed Senator Collins on the GOP side of the committee. The new chairman is expected to be Senator Tom Carper (D-DE), whom MAPPS has assisted with issues such as a geo-based federal land inventory.

The Senate committee is well aware of many of these issues, and discussed them with GAO. The committee may request subsequent reports that will go into further detail on a wide range of geospatial areas. And oversight of geospatial management will continue to be a priority for the House subcommittee in the 113th Congress.

Tags:  Duplication  GAO  Geospatial  Government 

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