Geo Week News

March 26, 2013

U.S. House bill seeks federal property inventory using lidar, photogrammetry


Geospatial industry trade group hails gov’t reform legislation

Bipartisan legislation recently introduced in the U.S. House seeks to create an inventory, or cadastre, of all federal property using airborne lidar, photogrammetry, and aerial and satellite remote sensing and image processing.

The Federal Land Asset Inventory Reform (“FLAIR)” Act, H.R. 916 is a government-reform bill to improve data management in an effort to eliminate government fraud, waste and redundancies, said Reps. Ron Kind (D-Wis.) and Rob Bishop (R-Utah), who introduced the bill Feb. 28.

The congressmen want the geographically enabled information system to 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.

“In an era where technological advancements are made on an almost daily basis, it makes no sense that we don’t have an accurate and up-to-date database of our federal lands and infrastructure,” said Bishop. “Outdated inventories and inaccurate data waste time and taxpayer dollars. If I can view the streets of a tiny town in Germany on Google maps as though I were standing there in person, I should, at the very least, be able to find a comprehensive, accurate, online listing of our country’s public land assets. I think the American people would be surprised by the fact that this doesn’t already exist.”

The FLAIR Act was referred to the House subcommittee on energy and mineral resources March 4. A Senate companion legislation is expected to soon be reintroduced.

Since 2003, and as recently as February, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has repeatedly designated “Managing Federal Real Property” as a high-risk area within the federal government most prone to waste, fraud and abuse.

One of the reasons cited by the GAO is the fact that 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. The FLAIR Act has been endorsed by NRC’s Committee on Land Parcel Databases.

The legislation also earned high praise from MAPPS, the national association of private sector geospatial firms.

“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 John Palatiello, MAPPS executive director.

MAPPs, based in Reston, Va., has 160 member firms and is the only trade group exclusively comprised of private firms using spatial data and geographic information systems including LIDAR, photogrammetry, aerial and satellite remote sensing and image processing, and GPS and GIS data collection and conversion. 

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