Action will take place in Congress this week on another issue MAPPS and NSPS members brought to Capitol Hill during the organizations’ joint conference on March 16. A subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives “will examine the impact on the private sector from the deceased use of public-private competition in sourcing government products and services. The hearing will also examine best practices for encouraging a more robust utilization of commercially available products and services to increase government efficiency while decreasing costs.” Among the invited witnesses is MAPPS Executive Director John Palatiello, who also serves as President of the Business Coalition for Fair Competition (BCFC), of which MAPPS is a member. MAPPS has advocated before Congress that “a positive public-private partnership model is needed so that there are clearly defined roles and responsibilities to provide synergy between the public and private sectors in the Federal level, and particularly with regard to geospatial activities.” The association said, “There is a need and role for government in surveying, mapping and geospatial activities. Agency personnel should be focused on inherently governmental activities such as enforcement of standards and specifications, development of requirements, coordination, and administering contracts. Commercial activities, including data acquisition, processing, applications, and value added services should be left to the qualified, competent and capable private sector in surveying and mapping.” The hearing will include a review of the “Freedom from Government Competition Act”, H.R. 2044/S. 1116, introduced by Representative John J. “Jimmy” Duncan, Jr. (R-TN) and Senator John Thune (R-SD) to codify the “Yellow Pages” test, applied by Mayors and Governors, both Democrat and Republican, that says if you can find private sector firms in the Yellow Pages providing products or services that the government is also providing, then the service should be subject to market competition to break up the government monopoly and prove a better value to the taxpayer. This bill will not only make government more efficient, saving more than $27 billion annually, but improve the quality of services and focus the Federal workforce on high priority governmental functions. The hearing is on Friday, July 8 at 9:00 AM EDT and can be viewed on-line via the website of the full House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
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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Posted By John Palatiello,
Wednesday, February 15, 2012
Updated: Friday, February 17, 2012
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.
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
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 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.
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
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
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
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
Contact your Congressman TODAY and deliver a simple
message: "Vote "YES” on H.R. 7”.