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Geospatial Community Feels Pinch of Government Shutdown

Executive director of MAPPS issues statement urging resolution.

The effects of the partial government shutdown already can be felt in the geospatial community.

With no agreement from Congress on a government funding bill, the shutdown not only affected federal employees but also contractors that work for government mapps.jpgagencies.

The shutdown impacts almost all federal agencies, including those with strong ties to the geospatial community such as the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Geological Survey and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Other major departments and agencies that contract work with the geospatial profession include the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Department of Agriculture, Corps of Engineers and National Geospatial Intelligence Agency.

In addition, websites for the USGS and the NOAA, among other agencies, have gone offline.

The Management Association for Private Photogrammetric Surveyors (MAPPS) was among 240 groups that sent a letter last week urging Congress to avoid a shutdown.

John Palatiello, the executive director of MAPPS, issued the following statement via email Tuesday:

"The federal government shutdown not only affects federal employees, but it affects contractors as well.  If a firm is a contractor and needs government furnished materials to perform their tasks, and the government employees who provide that material are furloughed, then the contractor cannot work. Additionally, contractors that work on-site at government facilities can’t go to work if the facility is shut down. Some firms could move employees to other, non-Federal assignments, but that is limited in many cases. And firms may not be authorized to bill the government for time spent on a federal contract during the shutdown. While federal employees have in past shutdowns received back pay, that has not always been the case for contractors.

“That is why MAPPS believes it is important for Congress to pass appropriations bills on time, before the fiscal year begins on October 1, something that has not occurred for several years, regardless of which political party has controlled either house of Congress or the White House. That is why MAPPS signed the letter with the Chamber and more than 250 other organizations. As taxpayers, our Board members understand the issues that are dividing the Congress, and the President. But as business owners, the continuity of operations in government and with contractors is essential. 

“It should be noted that the letter MAPPS joined makes several points to Congress. It not only calls for keeping the government open, but urges resolution of the upcoming debt ceiling issue and, most importantly, reform of entitlement spending that is bankrupting the nation. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projects that by 2038, our debt will reach 100 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product, assuming no changes to current law, or even a staggering 190 percent of GDP (based on a less optimistic alternative fiscal scenario).  Over the next 10 years, our interest expense will be a whopping $5 trillion. This entitlement spending crowds out the ability of government to do the "general welfare" things we most expect our government to do, such as national defense, homeland security, infrastructure -- all of which require geospatial data, products, services and technology.”

READ MORE: NGS Data Unavailable During Government Shutdown

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