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Newsroom: MAPPS News

MAPPS Commends Congressional Letter to Stimulus Accountability Board

Wednesday, September 9, 2009   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Nick Palatiello
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Reston, VA - MAPPS ( the association of private geospatial firms, today commended House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Nick Rahall (D-WV) for sending a letter to Earl Devaney, Chairman of the White House's Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board, seeking to assure the efficient expenditure of stimulus funds on geospatial activities.

In a letter dated September 9, Rep. Rahall asked Devaney to "review the use of funds in ARRA on geospatial investments to ensure that they are being spent efficiently, and without any waste due to unnecessary duplication."

The Recovery Board is charged with overseeing Federal expenditures from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA; Public Law 111-5), commonly referred to as the Stimulus Bill.

The letter is a follow-up to a July 23 subcommittee hearing entitled "Federal Geospatial Data Management". The hearing evaluated the Federal government's current coordination and management structure for geospatial activities. The Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources has oversight responsibility for USGS, which is the home of the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) staff.

The hearing focused on intra- and inter-governmental coordination, partnerships, data sharing, duplication avoidance, and governance in geospatial activities. The Subcommittee members questioned witnesses on Title 13 restrictions to Census data that are causing redundant data collection activities and expenditures in the broadband mapping program and government agency use of stimulus funding to buy equipment for in-house performance of geospatial activities that duplicate and result in government competition with the private sector, thus exacerbating unemployment.

Rep. Rahall's letter said, "one of the witnesses at the hearing expressed his belief that money could be saved from the broadband mapping effort if address data could be obtained from the U.S. Census Bureau, but the Census Bureau could not provide that data because of restrictions present in Section 9 of Title 13 of the U.S. Code."

Rahall also committed to exercising "greater oversight over geospatial activities occurring at the U.S. Geological Survey and in the Department of the Interior." He also wrote, "unfortunately, the federal government has not always done an exemplary job in coordinating its geospatial investments."

During the July hearing, John Palatiello, MAPPS Executive Director, and Susan Marlow, President of Smart Data Strategies, Inc. (Franklin, TN) and chair of the MAPPS Cadastre Task Force, were among the witnesses who testified before the subcommittee. Both Mr. Palatiello and Ms. Marlow commended the Federal government for its increasing use of geospatial data, technology and services to enhance government programs, but called for stronger leadership to make the National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI) a reality.

The letter from Chairman Rahall is available here, from MAPPS.

Formed in 1982, MAPPS is the only national association exclusively comprised of private firms in the remote sensing, spatial data and geographic information systems field in the United States. The MAPPS membership spans the entire spectrum of the geospatial community, including Member Firms engaged in satellite and airborne remote sensing, surveying, photogrammetry, aerial photography, LIDAR, hydrography, bathymetry, charting, aerial and satellite image processing, GPS, and GIS data collection and conversion services. MAPPS also includes Associate Member Firms, which are companies that provide hardware, software, products and services to the geospatial profession in the United States and other firms from around the world. Independent Consultant Members are sole proprietors engaged in consulting in or to the geospatial profession, or provides a consulting service of interest to the geospatial profession. 

MAPPS provides its 180+ member firms opportunities for networking and developing business-to-business relationships, information sharing, education, public policy advocacy, market growth, and professional development and image enhancement. 

For more information on MAPPS, please visit