Congressman Bruce Westerman introduced the Bipartisan Geospatial Data Act July 27. The bill, co-sponsored by Congressman Seth Moulton, would prevent duplicative data purchases by federal agencies and modernize the collection of data. It would save an untold amount of the American taxpayers’ money.

“Technology is advancing at a rapid rate. Advances in geospatial technology have revolutionized transportation, forestry and an ever-growing list of other industries,” Westerman says. “The benefits of geospatial technology are truly untold. Our federal agencies use geospatial data, but often different agencies acquire duplicative information and waste precious taxpayer resources in the process. The Geospatial Data Act would streamline the collection of this data across the federal government. This bill will save money, improve information accuracy and provide a more modern system for collecting geospatial data.”

This legislation is supported by the National States Geographic Information Council (NSGIC), the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC), MAPPS and the National Society of Professional Surveyors (NSPS).

“The National Society of Professional Surveyors is grateful for the leadership provided by Congressmen Westerman and Moulton in sponsoring this legislation which will establish the primacy of state surveying licensing law while helping to achieve efficiency in a wide variety of surveying activities underway or planned by our partners in the Federal agencies,” says, NSPS Executive Director Curtis Sumner, LS.

This bill establishes: (1) in the Office of Management and Budget the Federal Geographic Data Committee (the committee), which shall be the lead entity in the executive branch for the development, implementation, and review of policies, practices, and standards relating to geospatial data; and (2) in the executive branch the National Geospatial Advisory Committee to provide advice and recommendations to the committee.

The National Spatial Data Infrastructure (as defined in this bill) shall ensure that geospatial data from multiple sources is available and easily integrated to enhance the understanding of the physical and cultural world. The committee shall prepare a strategic plan for the implementation of the infrastructure consistent with national security, national defense and emergency preparedness program policies regarding data accessibility.

The committee shall operate GeoPlatform, an electronic service that provides access to geospatial data and metadata for geospatial data.

Agencies whose functions involve geospatial data shall implement a strategy for advancing geographic information and related geospatial data activities appropriate to that agency's mission in support of the strategic plan for the infrastructure. Such agencies shall disclose each contract, cooperative agreement, grant, or other transaction that deals with geospatial data.

Four years after enactment of this bill, federal funding shall not be made available for the collection, production, acquisition, maintenance, or dissemination of geospatial data that does not comply with applicable standards established by the committee.

The committee and agencies using geospatial data shall rely upon and use private individuals and entities for the acquisition of commercially-available surveying and mapping, and the provision of geospatial data and services, to the maximum extent practical.

The bill requires the Federal Acquisition Regulation to be revised to specify that the definition for "architectural and engineering services" includes surveying and mapping services and the acquisition of geospatial data.

A Senate version of this bill was introduced by Senators Orrin Hatch and Mark Warner on May 25.