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Spatially Speaking
MAPPS Events

3/12/2019 » 3/13/2019
2019 Federal Programs Conference - Capitol Hill Day

Federal Issue: Hydrographic Services Improvement Amendments (HSIA)
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Hydrographic Services Improvement Amendments (HSIA)



NOAA should not be expending funds for in-house performance of commercially available mapping activities, unless that in-house performance is more cost effective than the private sector. There is a capable and qualified private sector in mapping that can and should be used to a greater extent by NOAA. There is no justification, from a policy or fiscal point of view, for NOAA to maintain government activities that duplicate or compete with the private sector. Activities that are commercial in nature, such as geodetic surveying, aerial photography, remote sensing, and photogrammetric mapping should be performed by the private sector.

By requiring NOAA to use the private sector for commercial mapping services unless it is more cost effective to do the work in-house, NOAA would be able to focus on in-house activities on the establishment of professional and technical standards, research and development, funding and administration of grants, and to perform those services that are inherently governmental in nature and which are not competitive with the private sector.It is important to note that the Hydrographic Services Review Panel has recommended that NOAA conduct a thorough cost-comparison of its hydrographic surveys. NOAA has failed to do so. The lack of such an accounting has also been cited by GAO. Nevertheless, without any justification for continuing its in-house operation, NOAA does just that. Furthermore, MAPPS commends NOAA for its application of the “Brooks Act” (40 U.S.C. 1101 et. seq.), to provide for qualifications based selection of its shore line, coastal remote sensing, hydrographic surveys and related contractors. This time-tested and proven process assures that contractors are selected based on demonstrated competence and qualifications, not the lowest price. This is a highly competitive process that permits NOAA to evaluate firms based on their track record, past performance, capabilities, and qualifications first, and then negotiate a price that is fair and reasonable to the government with the most qualified firm, or if a price cannot be negotiated, go on to the second ranked firm. For services such as hydrographic surveys and other geospatial services, where the public health, welfare and safety are at stake, the Brooks Act is the only way to go. For the hydrographic services that NOAA contracts, as well as other geospatial activities, we believe the agency is highly satisfied. Private firms have been innovative in staffing, scheduling, applying technology, and deployment to ensure that the government receives value for its money.


H.R. 221 - Hydrographic Services Improvement Amendments (HSIA) Act (2017)

S. 171 - Hydrographic Services Improvement Amendments (HSIA) Act (2017)

Sens. John Thune (SD) and Dan Sullivan (AK) Write GAO Requesting a Study on Hydrographic Cost Comparison and Plan to Increase Private Sector Contracting (10-29-2015)

MAPPS Testimony on HSIA-HR1399 (6-13-2013)

MAPPS HSIA Issue Paper (2008)

MAPPS Testimony on HSIA-HR3352 (10-27-2007)