MAPPS Conference Features Federal Policies

Reston, VA – More than 125 principals from America’s leading geospatial firms and officials of major Federal agencies convened October 11, in Washington, DC, for a discussion of major Federal policy issues affecting geospatial firms and agencies.

The MAPPS ( Fall Policy Conference brought leaders of the geospatial community to the Nation’s Capital for an exchange of information on budgets, contracts, programs, and policies.  Plenary sessions included a presentation by Jeff Zimmerman, Esq., counsel to MAPPS from the law firm of Kilpatrick Stockton, LLP, who outlined the legislative history of the “Brooks Act” which provided for Federal agency contracts for architectural, engineering, surveying and mapping services based on competence and qualifications, subject to a fee negotiation, rather than price bidding.  Kilpatrick Stockton is providing legal advice to MAPPS on a multi-pronged public affairs campaign that seeks to clarify Federal law and regulation on the inclusion of a broad definition of mapping services subject to the Brooks Act.

Dave Ridley of the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Geospatial Management Office (GMO) updated the MAPPS membership on budgets and programs in the office created by Congress last year pursuant to legislation strongly advocated by MAPPS.  Among the goals and activities of the DHS GMO are to develop/implement plan for coordinated procurement of spatial data resources, develop and implement a business plan to identify and manage the DHS geospatial portfolio, publish and implement a national strategy and develop a geospatial concept of operations for the National Response Plan.

A Congressional staff panel provided insight on legislation currently before Congress.  Chris Brown, counsel to the House Aviation Subcommittee, provided a preview of issues to be considered in an Airport Improvement Program reauthorization bill in 2006, which will include numerous geospatial requirements as well as programs affecting aerial photography and image acquisition operations.  Brown also discussed flight restrictions in areas such as Washington, DC, and policies and procedures for aerial photo firms to obtain waivers in order to fly acquisition missions.  Cody Stewart, an aide to Rep. Chris Cannon (R-UT) and executive director of the House Western Caucus, provided an update on H.R. 1370, the Federal Land Asset Inventory Reform (FLAIR) Act, which MAPPS strongly supports.

Karen Siderelis, Association Director of the USGS for its National Geospatial Programs Office updated the proposed creation of a consolidation National Geospatial Technical Operations Center in Denver, CO and the conduct of an OMB Circular A-76 public-private competitive sourcing acquisition to determine the provider of geospatial-related services to USGS.

The afternoon featured six concurrent agency liaison committee meetings at which MAPPS members and Federal officials met in smaller breakout groups for discussions of specific issues.  Among the agencies participating were the Office of the Secretary of Defense, US Army Corps of Engineers, Transportation Security Agency, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, USGS, NOAA, and Department of Homeland Security.

“We were delighted with the response to our annual Fall Policy Conference”, said MAPPS Executive Director John Palatiello.  This conference is a great opportunity for our member firm principals to network with each other, meet with key Federal and Congressional personnel, and learn about Federal policies that affect their firms, as well as upcoming procurement opportunities, not only from Federal agencies, but also from state and local government recipients of Federal funds.”

MAPPS is the only national trade and professional association of private geospatial firms.  It provides its more than 150 market leaders legislative and policy advocacy, networking opportunities, public affairs activities, education, and information exchange through conferences, communications and other services.  For membership information and an application, visit the MAPPS web site at