March 26, 2013 -- A bi-partisan bill introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives to create a current, accurate Federal inventory or "cadastre" of all Federal real property has earned praise from MAPPS (www.mapps.org), the national association of private sector geospatial firms.
The Federal Land Asset Inventory Reform ("FLAIR)" Act, H.R. 916, was introduced on February 28 by Representatives Ron Kind (D-WI) and Rob Bishop (R-UT).
"The FLAIR Act is an effective government reform bill that will utilize Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology to help capture information about federal property. The bill also improves data management to help eliminate fraud, waste and redundancies, something I've been focused on since my days doing research for Senator William Proxmire's 'Golden Fleece' awards pointing out wasteful government spending," said Congressman Kind.
"In an era where technological advancements are made on an almost daily basis, it makes no sense that we don't have an accurate and up-to-date database of our federal lands and infrastructure. Outdated inventories and inaccurate data waste time and taxpayer dollars. If I can view the streets of a tiny town in Germany on Google maps as though I were standing there in person, I should, at the very least, be able to find a comprehensive, accurate, online listing of our country's public land assets. I think the American people would be surprised by the fact that this doesn't already exist," said Congressman Bishop.
Since 2003 and as recently as February 2013, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has repeatedly designated 'Managing Federal Real Property' one of the high-risk areas within the Federal government most prone to waste, fraud and abuse. One of the reasons cited by the GAO is the fact that the government does not have a current, accurate inventory of the land it owns. A national cadastre has also been recommended by the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences, and the FLAIR Act has been endorsed by its Committee on Land Parcel Databases.
"At a time when Congress is looking to cut spending, add revenue and protect investments it is imperative that agencies identify and eliminate duplicative and wasteful activities using geographic information systems (GIS) and provide accountability for the real property the Federal government owns," said John Palatiello, MAPPS Executive Director.
The FLAIR Act will provide all agencies owning Federal real property an improved accounting of their land assets. The bill will also conduct an inventory of existing inventories to eliminate duplicate or obsolete activities and save tax dollars. Such a consolidated geographically enabled information system will assist in improved Federal land management, resource conservation, environmental protection and utilization of real property, as well as identify property the Federal government no longer needs to own.
Palatiello concluded, "We commend Reps. Kind and Bishop for working in a bipartisan manner."
MAPPS members promoted the FLAIR Act in Congress during the association's annual Federal Programs Conference, held March 12-13 in Washington, DC. Representatives Mark Amodei (R-NV), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), Mike Coffman (R-CO), Bill Johnson (R-OH), Walter Jones (R-NC), Michael Michaud (D-ME), Steve Pearce (R-NM), David Price (D-NC) and Don Young (R-AK) are also cosponsors.
Senate companion legislation will soon be reintroduced.
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 160+ 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 www.MAPPS.org.