Today, the Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources held a joint legislative and oversight field hearing in Colorado Springs, Colorado on, "Federal Geospatial Spending, Duplication and Land Inventory Management" and H.R 4233 and H.R. 1620. The hearing focused on the importance of reducing federal bureaucracies and streamlining government inefficiencies in federal lands management and inventory that will allow greater access to our public lands for multiple use purposes.
"Some of the problems the legislation we are discussing today seeks to address are in fact a result of the early mapping techniques employed by the General Land Office and other federal agencies that may have been state of the art 200 or even 50 years ago but have been overtaken by modern technology and practices," said Subcommittee Chairman Doug Lamborn (CO-05). "Using the private sector for this purpose leaves more resources for infrastructure projects such as highways, airports and addressing the maintenance backlog in our National Parks and other federal facilities."
Witnesses spoke about the importance of updating federal land mapping practices for job creation, additional use of public lands and scientific advancements.
Brian Raber, Vice President for Geospatial Solutions at Merrick and Company, testified about the ready and willing employment opportunities for geospatial jobs, "We estimate that more than 100,000 geospatial-related jobs currently exist in Colorado. Geospatial jobs are in demand as they are high paying, high tech, and high quality." Raber also talked about the importance of H.R. 4233. "Geospatial data should become as common places in the process of government as word processing software. Your bill takes a giant step towards that goal...the result would be more private sector jobs, a smaller and more efficient government, a more robust private sector economy, and lower cost of carrying out government programs."
John M. Palatiello, Management Association for Private Photogrammetric Surveyors (MAPPS) Executive Director, spoke to the Subcommittee about a lack of knowledge and coordination by the federal government on geospatial activities, "There is a critical need to reorganize Federal geospatial activities...The fact is the Federal government does not know what it owns, where it owns it, what condition it is in, what its appraised or market value is." Palatiello mentioned the importance of the federal government having accurate knowledge of the land the government owns, "An accurate inventory is an important feature of good land management. Proper conservation, recreation and multiple use activities are dependent on accurate information about the government's land ownership."
Leonard Gilroy, Director of Government Reform for the Reason Foundation, spoke about the economic benefits to proper geospatial organization, "Considering the nation's ongoing economic challenges, the government should take proactive steps to maximize the value of its resources, ensure efficient management and enable private sector economic growth through asset divestiture." Gilroy noted that this should be an issue that everyone can support,"Real property management is not a partisan issue, nor is it an issue of spending priorities. It is an issue of good governance and fiscal responsibility."