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February 1, 2005
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New U.S. Office of Geospatial Management created; President Bush signs new GPS policy; SBA to review definition of small business in mapping; NRC reports on licensing geographic data and services; and USGS Rolla, Mo. sales counter closes.



New U.S. Office of Geospatial Management Created

The National Intelligence Reform Act of 2004 signed into law on Dec. 17, 2004 includes a provision to create a new geospatial management office within the Depart-ment of Homeland Security (DHS). This geospatial provision was introduced by Senator Wayne Allard of Colorado, who was actively supported by the American Congress on Surveying and Mapping (ACSM) and the Management Association for Private Photogrammetric Surveyors (MAPPS).

Section 8201 of S. 2845, the National Intelligence Reform Act of 2004, first notes the following findings of Congress: "Geospatial information preparedness in the United States, and specifically in the Department of Homeland Security, is insufficient because of-(A) inadequate geospatial data compatibility; (B) insufficient geospatial data sharing; and (C) technology interoperability barriers." To answer these concerns, the law established the Office of Geospatial Management within the Office of the Chief Information Officer in the DHS. The geospatial office will provide geospatial information needed for the planning and response to emergencies and critical infrastructure protection, as well as coordinate geospatial information within DHS to assure interoperability and to prevent unneccessary duplication. In addition, the geospatial management office will make recommendations on awarding grants to fund the creation of geospatial data.

President Bush Signs New GPS Policy

On Dec. 15, 2004, President George W. Bush signed a new Positioning, Navigation and Timing (PNT) Policy to direct the country's management and development of the Global Positioning System (GPS). The new policy replaces the former presidential directive on GPS released in 1996. The PNT policy sets goals to ensure that the U.S. government will continue to provide uninterrupted availability of GPS services and remain the pre-eminent military space-based satellite system. To meet these goals, the government will coninue to provide free worldwide GPS service for civilians, and will also continue to develop and improve GPS capabilities. For more information on the PNT policy, visit the Office of Science and Technology Policy website (www.ostp.gov).

NRC Reports on Licensing Geographic Data and Services

In November 2004, The National Research Council (NRC) of the National Academies sponsored a symposium on licensing geographic data and services. At the conference, the NRC's Mapping Science Committee explained the business model for licensing geographic data and services as outlined in an NRC report, and advised government agencies on how to best procure licensed data. In the past, government agencies typically acquired ownership of geographic data from private sector and other data producers, and distributed this data without restriction; the alternative business model of licensing allows the producer to restrict redistribution.

The NRC's report includes 12 recommendations to assist government agencies in evaluating and procuring licensed geographic data. The recommendations advise government agencies to consider several factors in the purchase of licensed data. For example: an agency should confirm the extent of data redistribution required by its mandates, missions and government information policies before entering into data acquisition negotiations. In addition, an agency should evaluate whether the data must be acquired under terms that permit unlimited public access or whether more limited access may suffice. Agencies are warned to agree to license restrictions only when consistent with their mandates, missions and the user group they serve.

The recommendations also suggest ways that federal agencies can maximize the excess of benefits over costs when purchasing geographic data. Agencies are encouraged to experiment with a wide variety of data procurement methods and to dedicate resources to training and knowledge-sharing in order to extract maximum public benefit from licensing.

Finally, the NRC recommendations propose that the geographic data community consider creating a National Commons in Geographic Information (where individuals could post and acquire commons-licensed geographic data) and a National Marketplace (where geographic data creators could document, license and deliver their data sets to a common shared pool). Federal agencies are urged to investigate options for developing these facilities with voluntary participants.

In addition to the recommendations, the NRC report highlights licensing perspectives and experiences of major stakeholder groups and examines the pros and cons of licensing. It concludes that licensing may be a viable option in some instances and advises agencies on how to best serve societal interests. The entire report of the NRC can be purchased online at the National Academies Press website, www.nap.edu.

SBA to Review Definition of Small Business in Mapping

Per the request of the Management Association of Private Photogrammetric Surveyors (MAPPS) Board of Directors, the Small Business Administration (SBA) is reviewing the "size standard" or definition of a small business. Currently, SBA combines surveying and mapping in one size standard and defines a small business as one with gross annual receipts up to $4 million, averaged over a three-year period. The MAPPS Board petitioned SBA to review the standard in 2005, citing the significant differences between mapping/geospatial firms and land surveying firms in terms of capital requirements, size and scope of projects, training requirements of personnel, as well as size of firms in revenue, payroll and number of employees. According to the most recent Census of Service Industries conducted by the Census Bureau, the average number of employees per land surveying and mapping firm is 5.8 and the average firm had gross annual receipts of $343,172. According to MAPPS, that data, which is relied upon by SBA, is skewed by the number of land surveying firms in the survey. Moreover, the MAPPS Board noted that according to the report "U.S. Federal Procurement of Geotechnology, 2000-2002" by Cary and Associates, Longmont, Colo., published October 2003, the federal government is spending some $5 billion per year on geospatial-related contracts. Of that amount, more than 70 percent went to just 10 firms, all of which are large aerospace or systems integration corporations. During 2005, the SBA size standards staff will review information on the geospatial community and make a recommendation on a different, and presumably higher, size standard, if warranted.

USGS Rolla, Mo. Sales Counter Closes

Over-the-counter sales activity at the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Earth Science Information Center (ESIC), part of the Rolla Mid-Continent Mapping Center (MCMC) ceased as of Dec. 1, 2004. The termination of over-the-counter sales such as map purchases and other USGS product transactions was a result of an overall USGS restructuring plan. The USGS ESICs are intended to evolve into enterprise information offices that provide and support customers via phone, fax, mail, the Internet, and through creative partnerships with other government agencies and the private sector.

There are several alternatives in place for the purchase of USGS products. Any USGS product can be purchased by calling 1-888-ASK-USGS, or by writing to USGS Information Services, Box 25286, Denver, CO 80225. Online searching and ordering is possible using the USGS Store (http://store.usgs.gov) for published products including maps, books and other publications, or using Earth Explorer (http://earthexplorer.usgs.gov) for digital data including aerial photography, satellite imagery and digital cartographic data. Also, there are numerous USGS Business Partners (http://rockyweb.cr.usgs.gov/acis-bin/querypartner.cgi) who can provide USGS maps, aerial photographs, satellite imagery or digital cartographic data.

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