On May 3, 2012, a Congressional oversight field hearing was held in Colorado Springs, Colo., to address problems and solutions regarding the federal government’s geospatial activities.

Testifying at the hearing were John Palatiello, MAPPS executive director; Brian Raber, CMS, GLS, GISP, vice president of Merrick & Company (Aurora, Colo.), a member of the MAPPS board of directors; Leonard Gilroy, director of government reform at the Reason Foundation; Anu Mittal, director of the Natural and Environment Division at the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO); Brian Myers, PLS, on behalf of the NSPS; and Dr. Steve Jennings, associate professor and acting chair for the Department of Geography and Environmental Studies at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.

Led by Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.), the hearing broadly addressed the need for legislation to improve the way the federal government handles geospatial information. It specifically addressed H.R. 4233, the Map It Once, Use It Many Times Act, a bill introduced by Rep. Lamborn in March 2012 that aims to enhance the use of geospatial data, products and services, and increase the efficiency of federal geospatial activities. Witnesses also testified on H.R. 1620, the Federal Land Assets Inventory Reform (FLAIR) Act, a bipartisan bill to improve federal land management by developing a multipurpose cadastre of federal real property and by eliminating duplicative and out of date land inventories.

In an interview following the hearing, Palatiello said there is solid support for both bills. “All the witnesses at the hearing recognized that there are issues that need to be resolved,” he said. “There was generally a consensus that the Map It Once, Use It Many Times Act and the FLAIR Act are sound solutions to those issues.”

Palatiello said the committee would evaluate the testimony that was received, make any necessary modifications and then move the bills forward through the legislative process. Although it’s difficult to predict how quickly Congress might act on the bills, Palatiello was optimistic that they might become law within the next couple of years. He said MAPPS will continue to advocate the legislation; however, he said, individuals can also play a valuable role.

“The most constructive thing geospatial professionals can do right now is to send a letter or email to their representatives in Congress and discuss the need for better organization and coordination of federal activities, which is what the Map It Once, Use It Many Times Act aims to do,” he said, “and talk about the need for a cadastre or land information system that starts with a foundation of good information about federal land ownership and ultimately can build toward a national parcel system.”

Note: More information about the Map It Once, Use It Many Times Act, including an archive of the May 3 hearing webcast, can be found at www.mapps.org/?page=GA_FI_MIO_UIMT_Act. Additional information will also be presented at the MAPPS Summer Conference, July 10-14 in Snowmass Village, Colo.

Share your thoughts on this column at www.pobonline.com or www.rpls.com.

To contact the editor, send an e-mail to pobeditor@bnpmedia.com.