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GISCI Establishes Position on Geospatial Data Act of 2017

07 Aug 2017 7:14 AM | Craig Clouet

The GIS Certification Institute (GISCI) has crafted the following position statement in response to the Federal Geospatial Data Act of 2017 (S.1253). S.1253 is co-sponsored by Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Dean Heller (R-NV) and Mark Warner (D-VA) has been a topic of much discussion within the GIS community. The American Association of Geographers (AAG) and the Urban Regional Information Systems Association (URISA) have expressed specific concerns about the bill as currently written.

Upon review of the Bill the GISCI Board of Directors has identified the following concerns.

  • Purpose Statement: The bill lacks a clear purpose statement. We believe this creates opportunities for misinterpretation of the Bill's intent. A well-crafted purpose statement would help "put a fence" around the Bill and minimize opportunities for misinterpretation.
  •  Section 10 (Funding): We believe the language in this section is unnecessarily broad and could reduce or eliminate the availability of funds for research and other efforts not specific to the purpose of this Bill. A clear purpose statement along with some adjustments to Section 10 would help alleviate this concern.
  • Section 11 (Use of Private Sector): This is the area of greatest concern given the conflation of "surveying and mapping" with "geospatial data" and the potential that federally funded geospatial data activities could be limited to architectural/engineering firms and licensed surveyors. We are specifically concerned about the wording in subsections b and c, which state:
  •  Subsection (b) DEFINITION -- For purposes of selecting a firm for a contract under chapter 11 of title 40, United States Code, the term ''surveying and mapping'' shall have the meaning given the term ''geospatial data'' in section 2 of this Act.
  • Subsection (c) MODIFICATION OF FEDERAL ACQUISITION REGULATION - Part 36 of the Federal Acquisition Regulation (48 C.F.R. 36.000 et seq.) shall be revised to specify that the definition of the term ''architectural and engineering services'' includes surveying and mapping services and the acquisition of geospatial data, to which the selection procedures of subpart 36.6 of such part 36 of the Federal Acquisition Regulation shall apply.

We believe these provisions could seriously impact the livelihood of Certified GIS Professionals (GISPĀ®) and unnecessarily increase the cost of Federal geospatial data collection and management.

The GISCI Board of Directors is confident that these concerns can be addressed while maintaining the purpose and goals of the Federal Geospatial Data Act (S.1253).

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