New Legislation Will Use GIS to Inventory Federal Land
The Federal government will soon have a current, accurate inventory of the land it owns as a result of legislation approved today by the Committee on Natural Resources of the U.S. House of Representatives.
The Federal Land Asset Inventory Reform (FLAIR) Act, a bi-partisan bill sponsored by Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI) and Rob Bishop (R-UT), was approved for full House action today by a unanimous consent voice vote of the committee.
"For too long, the Federal government has lacked a current, accurate inventory of the real property it owns. This has resulted in poor stewardship of our public lands, buildings and other real estate holdings, duplication, and a waste of tax dollars," said John Palatiello, Executive Director of MAPPS, the association of private sector geospatial firms. "MAPPS applauds the House Natural Resources Committee for addressing this issue and recognizing the role the private geospatial sector can play in improving Federal property management."
Since 2003 and as recently as February 14, 2013, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has repeatedly designated 'Managing Federal Real Property' one of the high-risk areas within the Federal government most prone to waste, fraud and abuse. One of the reasons cited by GAO is the fact that the government does not have a current, accurate inventory of the land it owns. The General Services Administration (GSA), for example, collects data from at least 30 federal agencies, but its system has been criticized by GAO for being "unreliable and of limited usefulness" and "not current or reliable."
The bill identifies the use of modern geographic information systems (GIS) to more accurately integrate and collect data on real property owned by the Federal government. Many of the inventories currently maintained by Federal agencies are not interoperable, geographically enabled or otherwise user-friendly.
"Many states have identified properties that are candidates for disposal or properties government simply did not know it owned by auditing their inventories and creating a single management system using GIS," said Susan Marlow (Smart Data Strategies, Franklin, TN), MAPPS President-Elect and Chair of a MAPPS cadastre task force.
The FLAIR Act, H.R. 916, creates a single, federal multipurpose cadastre (a uniform Federal computer database), in accordance with standards recommended by the National Academy of Sciences. The bill also calls for an "inventory of inventories," so that duplicate, wasteful activities can be identified and eliminated. The FLAIR Act will provide all agencies owning federal real property an improved accounting of their land assets. Such an inventory 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 calls for public access to the inventory via the web.
For more information on MAPPS, please visit www.mapps.org.