A bipartisan bill to create a current, accurate federal inventory or "cadastre” of all federal land has earned praise from the national association of private-sector geospatial firms.
MAPPS “applauds” the “Federal Land Asset Inventory Reform (FLAIR) Act of 2015” (H.R. 3121), introduced this week in the U.S. House of Representatives by Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI) and Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-ND). “The current system for tracking the federal government’s real property is inefficient and redundant,” said Rep. Kind. “The FLAIR Act improves data management to help eliminate fraud, waste and redundancies, and it’s something I’ve been focused on since my days doing research for Sen. William Proxmire’s ‘Golden Fleece’ awards, which pointed out wasteful government spending. The federal government needs to be taking steps to use the technology available to increase transparency and streamline operations.”
Transparency ensures a more effective, efficient and honest government, said Rep. Cramer. “Businesses must create and maintain accurate databases in order to pay taxes,” he said, “and it is disappointing the federal government must be forced to apply this same standard to itself. The lack of a database deprives citizens of exercising the oversight necessary for good government. I am happy to introduce this legislation with Rep. Kind and help modernize the federal government.”
Since 2003 and as recently as February 2015, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has repeatedly designated “Managing Federal Real Property” as one of the areas within the federal government most prone to waste, fraud and abuse. One of the reasons cited by the GAO is the fact 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 MAPPS President Susan Marlow, GISP, a principal with Stantec of Nashville, Tenn., and a member of the National Academy Parcel Committee.
The FLAIR Act will provide all agencies owning federal real property an improved, spatially-enabled cadastre of their land assets, according to MAPPS. 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. The bill also calls for an inventory of existing inventories to eliminate duplicate or obsolete systems and save tax dollars.
MAPPS members promoted the FLAIR Act in Congress during the association’s annual Federal Programs Conference, as part of the National Surveying and Mapping Conference hosted jointly with the National Society of Professional Surveyors this past April. Bill co-sponsors are Rep. Mark Amodei (R-NV), Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) and Rep. David Price (D-NC). A Senate companion to this legislation, S. 1225 was introduced in May by Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), and was referred to the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, where Sen. Murkowski serves as chair.
The Management Association for Private Photogrammetic Surveyors based in Reston, Va. and formed in 1982, MAPPS is the only national association of firms in the surveying, spatial data and GIS fields. MAPPS member firms are engaged in surveying, photogrammetry, satellite and airborne remote sensing, aerial photography, hydrography, aerial and satellite image processing, GPS and GIS data collection, and conversion services. Associate members are engaged in the manufacturing and/or supplying of geospatial equipment, services, supplies, hardware or software to geospatial services firms, many of which are MAPPS member firms.