Print Page   |   Contact Us   |   Your Cart   |   Sign In   |   Become a Member
Community Search
Member Sign In


Spatially Speaking
MAPPS Events
Spatially Speaking
Blog Home All Blogs
"Spatially Speaking" is the official MAPPS blog providing information on topics related to the association and profession and MAPPS involvement with the issues.

 

Search all posts for:   

 

Top tags: Congress  Geospatial  LIDAR  Privacy  UAV  FAA  3DEP  Mapping  MAPPS  surveying  Economy  FCC  FLAIR Act  USGS  Advocacy  Business  Exporting  FGDC  FTC  Jobs  MIO-UIMT  NOAA  parcels  private sector  qbs  Tax  USACE  2014 Winter Conference  Accomplishments  Aviation 

U.S. House subcommittee to examine private sector utilization

Posted By MAPPS, Tuesday, July 5, 2016

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.

Tags:  Geospatial  private sector  public-private 

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)
 

Private Sector Capacity for 3DEP

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!

 

Subscribe to Spatially Speaking

MAPPS members login to the MAPPS website and subscribe to the blog to get the latest alerts! Not a member? Subscribe to our RSS feed.

 

Tags:  3DEP  LIDAR  Private Sector 

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)
 

MAPPS President Joins U.S. Representatives at News Conference on Federal Prison Industries

Posted By John Palatiello, Wednesday, February 15, 2012
Updated: Friday, February 17, 2012

MAPPS President 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.

Currently 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 designs.

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 few.

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.

Here is a news story about the bill.

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 sector.

Tags:  Competition  Congress  FPI  Jobs  MAPPS  Prison  Private Sector  Reform 

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)
 

House Highway Bill Transforms Role of Government, Private Sector

Posted By John Palatiello, Tuesday, February 14, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The U.S. House of Representatives is beginning debate on H.R. 7, the American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act, commonly known as the "Highway Bill”.

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 that.

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 for projects”.

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 needs.

Contact your Congressman TODAY and deliver a simple message: "Vote "YES” on H.R. 7”.

Tags:  Congress  DoT  Highway  mapping  Private Sector  surveying  Transportation 

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)