John Palatiello, Executive Director of MAPPS, the association for private sector geospatial firms, and government affairs consultant to the National Society of Professional Surveyors (NSPS), testified April 10 before the Committee on Appropriations, Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies, U.S. House of Representatives advocating for funding for the USGS 3D elevation program, 3DEP, and reform of federal land inventory activities.

"We respectfully urge the subcommittee to fully fund the important 3DEP program as requested in the President's budget, or, if possible, increase the appropriations level to meet the extraordinary demand for current, accurate elevation data for the nation," said Palatiello. "USGS has identified more than 600 applications that would benefit from such enhanced elevation data including flood risk management, agriculture, water supply, homeland security and renewable energy while promoting economic growth, facilitate responsible environmental protection and assist with infrastructure improvements."

The 3DEP data have the potential to generate $13 billion in annual benefits, at a benefit cost ratio of 4.7 to 1. MAPPS conducted a study in 2012 that determined there is significant capacity and capability in the private sector to support the program and USGS currently has contract vehicles in place to efficiently implement the program.

"3DEP is a best practices model for coordination, inter-agency and inter-governmental cooperation, and a strong definition of government and private sector roles and responsibilities in a public-private partnership," Palatiello said.

While 3DEP is a success story, Palatiello pointed out there is an area where improvement is needed.

"The Federal government and Department of Interior lack a current accurate inventory of the land it owns. This has been recognized by GAO and the National Academy of Sciences. This is potentially costing tens of billions of dollars.

In his testimony, Palatiello urged the subcommittee to conduct an assessment of land inventories authorized, operated or maintained the Federal government.

He called for an "inventory of inventories" to identify duplicate and wasteful activities that can be eliminated. "Such an inventory will assist in improved Federal land management, resource conservation, environmental protection and utilization of real property, and identify property the Federal government no longer needs to own. With today's geographic information systems (GIS) technology, this is a perfect example where the Federal government can 'map it once, use it many times'," Palatiello said to the Congressional panel.