MAPPS Urges OMB to Promptly Release Stimulus Funding for Geospatial Contract Programs

Reston, VA, March 16, 2009 – The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) should promptly release stimulus funds for geospatial contracts, MAPPS President Marvin E. Miller , PLS, PPS, CP (Aero-Metric, Inc., Maple Grove, MN) said in a letter to OMB Director Peter Orszag. MAPPS recommended steps OMB should take to implement the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) "to assure the efficient and cost effective expenditure of funds, the maximum job creation possible, and the investment of tax dollars to achieve strategic national priorities."

"We urge that funding be released for contracts as expeditiously as possible to take advantage of the fast-approaching leaf-off flying season that is critical to the acquisition of the aerial photography needed for many of the ARRA programs. If this spring’s season is missed, billions of dollars in projects will be delayed and tens of thousands of jobs will not be filled for more than a year. This will cause a "boomerang" effect to economic recovery that our Nation cannot afford," Miller said.

MAPPS noted that geospatial activities have a significant multiplier effect, leveraging additional investment and job creation. While aerial photography is 5-10% of typical mapping costs, when factored into overall planning, design and construction and costs, aerial photography has a multiplier of 9074. In data from an actual project, $6,000 invested in an aerial photo mission for road construction resulted in $49 million in total.

In the letter, MAPPS also supported the recommendations of the National Geospatial Advisory Committee (NGAC) for the immediate OMB action to fully utilize geospatial technology to apply across the various programs funded through the stimulus bill.  These include "clear, enforceable guidance to agencies working on ARRA activities to ensure that geospatial investments are made in a strategic and coordinated manner, consistent with the standards-based development of the OMB-created National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI). We also believe that transparency and accountability be key features of the legislation’s implementation and that reporting of expenditures be included in Geospatial Lines of Business,, and in a geospatially-enabled manner to manage and track economic recovery investments. We further recommend Federal grant and contract guidance language requiring reporting and documentation of geospatial data and that geospatial activities be recognized as the vibrant, commercial activity that it is and that the private sector be utilized for this work to the maximum extent possible," MAPPS wrote.

MAPPS recently provided its members an analysis of funding in the stimulus bill that identified $73 billion in programs that may generate requirements for geospatial services, data, technology and applications. The association suggested "OMB should fully utilize geospatial technology to effectively implement and manage ARRA through a strategy and requirements that apply across the various programs funded through the Act, including but not limited to The National Map, health IT, broadband deployment, wildland fire/emergency response, alternative energy grid, global climate change, transportation and infrastructure, the 2010 Census, housing, watershed protection, charting and hydrographic surveying, water resources, navigation, military construction, boundaries and borders, and schools."

The only national association exclusively comprised of private geospatial firms said a recent survey of the MAPPS membership indicated 50 would have no growth in their current workforce and 30 percent said there would be a decline. This comes despite the U.S. Department of Labor targeting the geospatial community as one of the high growth sectors in the U.S. economy. The poll found fewer than 30 percent of member firms is operating at maximum capacity.

In his letter to OMB Director Orszag, MAPPS’ Miller said there are "numerous contract programs" that have already been through "full and open competition … that can be immediately tasked to accomplish this work and save or create jobs". MAPPS cited the US Geological Survey’s Geospatial Products and Services Contracts (GPSC), the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency’s Global Geospatial Intelligence contracts (GGI), the NOAA Shoreline Mapping, Hydrographic Services, and Coastal Geospatial Services Contracts (CGSC), and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Center of Expertise for Photogrammetric Mapping (TCX) contracts that have more than 150 prime and sub contractors, and tens of thousands of employees that can be used to get Americans back to work as quickly as possible.

To view the letter click here.

Formed in 1982, MAPPS is the only national association exclusively comprised of private firms in the remote sensing, spatial data and geographic information systems field in the United States. Current MAPPS memberships span the entire spectrum of the geospatial community, including Member Firms engaged in satellite and airborne remote sensing, surveying, photogrammetry, aerial photography, LIDAR, hydrography, bathymetry, charting, aerial and satellite image processing, GPS, and GIS data collection and conversion services. MAPPS also includes Associate Member Firms, which are companies that provide hardware, software, products and services to the geospatial profession in the United States and other firms from around the world. MAPPS provides its 170+ member firms opportunities for networking and developing business-to-business relationships, information sharing, education, public policy advocacy, market growth, and professional development and image enhancement. For more information on MAPPS, please visit