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Reps. Westerman and Moulton Introduce Bipartisan Geospatial Data Act

July 27, 2017
Press Release

WASHINGTON – Congressman Bruce Westerman (AR-04) on Thursday (July 27) introduced the Bipartisan Geospatial Data Act. The bill, co-sponsored by Congressman Seth Moulton (MA-06), would prevent duplicative data purchases by federal agencies and modernize the collection of said data. The move would save an untold amount of the American taxpayers’ money.

“Technology is advancing at a rapid rate. Advances in geospatial technology have revolutionized transportation, forestry, and an ever-growing list of other industries,” Westerman said. “The benefits of geospatial technology are truly untold. Our federal agencies use geospatial data, but often different agencies acquire duplicative information and waste precious taxpayer resources in the process. The Geospatial Data Act would streamline the collection of this data across the federal government. This bill will save money, improve information accuracy, and provide a more modern system for collecting geospatial data.”

"The Geospatial Data Act will save taxpayer dollars, increase government efficiency, and unlock innovation in the public and private sectors," Moulton said. "It is time to bring government into the 21st Century. I am proud to be part of this bipartisan effort that embraces new and innovative ways to use and share data.”

This legislation is supported by the National States Geographic Information Council (NSGIC), the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC), MAPPS, and the National Society of Professional Surveyors (NSPS).

"From transportation, to natural resources, to homeland security, map-based digital information has quietly become mission critical to how work gets done and to future economic growth,” said NSGIC President Bert Granberg. “We need an efficiency and accountability framework to build, sustain, and share geographic data assets for the entire nation. The GDA delivers just that and our members appreciate Representative Westerman’s leadership.”

“The American Council of Engineering Companies – the voice of the nation’s engineering industry – supports the Geospatial Data Act and thanks the sponsors for introducing this important legislation,” said ACEC President and CEO David A. Raymond. “Access to accurate geospatial data is essential for maintaining and improving the nation’s infrastructure, economic development, and emergency preparedness and response. The sharing of geospatial data across federal agencies will improve the quality of data and be more fiscally prudent by preventing the duplication of work and resources. In addition, the bill includes an important clarification of federal procurement rules to ensure that surveying and mapping services are contracted under the same qualifications-based selection standards as architects and engineers.”

“MAPPS commends Representatives Westerman and Moulton for their leadership in helping better coordinate the acquisition, management and dissemination of geospatial data by the Federal government through the Geospatial Data Act (GDA),” said MAPPS President Brian Raber, CMS, GLS, GISP. “MAPPS is pleased to support this legislation which will not only improve coordination, reduce duplication, and increase data transparency in the acquisition of geospatial data, but the GDA clearly outlines the role of the private sector geospatial firms in assisting Federal agencies accomplish their goals in maximizing value, quality and competence in undertaking their geospatial activities.”

“The National Society of Professional Surveyors (NSPS) is grateful for the leadership provided by Congressmen Westerman and Moulton in sponsoring this legislation which will establish the primacy of state surveying licensing law while helping to achieve efficiency in a wide variety of surveying activities underway or planned by our partners in the Federal agencies,” said NSPS Executive Director Curtis Sumner, LS. “NSPS strongly supports the Geospatial Data Act and encourages Congress to enact this important reform legislation.”

Congressional Research Service Summary of the Bipartisan Geospatial Data Act

This bill establishes: (1) in the Office of Management and Budget the Federal Geographic Data Committee (the committee), which shall be the lead entity in the executive branch for the development, implementation, and review of policies, practices, and standards relating to geospatial data; and (2) in the executive branch the National Geospatial Advisory Committee to provide advice and recommendations to the committee.

The National Spatial Data Infrastructure (as defined in this bill) shall ensure that geospatial data from multiple sources is available and easily integrated to enhance the understanding of the physical and cultural world. The committee shall prepare a strategic plan for the implementation of the infrastructure consistent with national security, national defense, and emergency preparedness program policies regarding data accessibility.

The committee shall operate GeoPlatform, an electronic service that provides access to geospatial data and metadata for geospatial data.

Agencies whose functions involve geospatial data shall implement a strategy for advancing geographic information and related geospatial data activities appropriate to that agency's mission in support of the strategic plan for the infrastructure. Such agencies shall disclose each contract, cooperative agreement, grant, or other transaction that deals with geospatial data.

Four years after enactment of this bill, federal funding shall not be made available for the collection, production, acquisition, maintenance, or dissemination of geospatial data that does not comply with applicable standards established by the committee.

The committee and agencies using geospatial data shall rely upon and use private individuals and entities for the acquisition of commercially available surveying and mapping and the provision of geospatial data and services, to the maximum extent practical.

The bill requires the Federal Acquisition Regulation to be revised to specify that the definition for "architectural and engineering services" includes surveying and mapping services and the acquisition of geospatial data.

A Senate version of this bill was introduced by Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Mark Warner (D-VA) on May 25, 2017.