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Spatial Data Needs: The Future of the National Mapping Program Appendix C NATIONAL MAPPING DIVISION’S USER REQUIREMENTS EVALUATION PROCESS by Office of External Coordination National Mapping Division U.S. Geological Survey Coordination and requirements functions within the National Mapping Division (NMD) have been elevated to the Assistant Division Chief level and are carried out within the Office of External Coordination. Requests from Federal and State agencies for mapping, imagery, and digital cartographic data production are received by the National Mapping Division through several means. The primary method is through the annual Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular A-16 process which provides Federal and State agencies a framework to identify their requirements for current and new National Mapping Program products. The A-16 process also provides a continuing forum for discussion of mapping and digital data requirements throughout the year. In addition, requirements are gathered through other coordination mechanisms, such as FICCDC and IDCCC topical meetings, technical exchange meetings, bilateral coordination committee meetings, in writing, over the telephone, through congressional inquiries, legislation, and regulatory documents. While agency requirements may be received by various components of NMD’s organization through a variety of coordination mechanisms, the Office of External Coordination is the Division’s focal point for the ultimate resolution of the requirements process. The OMB Circular A-16, revised May 6, 1967, describes the responsibilities of Federal agencies with respect to coordination of Federal surveying and mapping activities. The coordinating procedures established by this Circular extend to all surveying and mapping activities financed in whole or in part by Federal funds. Currently, the National Mapping Division solicits mapping and digital cartographic data requirements from approximately 40 Federal agencies, and from the 50 States-an adjustment to the solicitation process adopted in 1987.
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Spatial Data Needs: The Future of the National Mapping Program The A-16 solicitation and evaluation processes have evolved to address requirements for maps, digital data, imagery, and selected services provided by NMD. All requirements are reviewed for overlapping user needs, impacts on critical national programs, and the ability of NMD to produce the information within standard production programs. Because the A-16 requirements are evaluated within the framework of congressionally-appropriated funds, budget constraints have a major effect on the degree of responsiveness that NMD can offer. During the last 10 years, approximately two-thirds of the Federal agencies contacted have replied to the solicitation with about half of these identifying requirements. Each year participating agencies in the A-16 process are requested to provide their first, second, and third priority requirements. To assist them, NMD provides status indexes and instructions on submitting requirements. The Division also offers to meet with agency representatives to further explain program objectives and production techniques. As submissions are received, NMD separates the requests into programs such as 1:24,000-scale map revision, 1:100,000-scale mapping, and digital data by category and scale. A status check is performed to ascertain whether the product requested is in the queue for work initiation, is currently in work, or has been recently completed. This check results in some requests being filtered out of the evaluation process. In the instance of primary map (1:24,000-scale) revisions, the requests are further filtered by comparing the composited requirements against the results of a map/aerial photography inspection activity that the Division has established. These inspections determine the need to revise maps based on noticeable changes to land features. Should an agency revision request cover an area not deemed by NMD to need revision, the request is filtered out. Once the appropriate requests are filtered out, the validated requirements are entered into an evaluation system so that production priorities can be determined. Priorities are based on whether the requestor is a Federal or State office, the priority set by that office, the product requested, and the geographic area covered by the request. By subjecting these factors to a weighting algorithm, overlapping requests of highest priority for each product provide NMD with a ranked list of production priorities, essentially identifying where maximum benefits would be obtained per dollar expended. After a composite is completed, a further prioritization is performed which incorporates such factors as how many agencies have requested the same product, whether these agencies are Federal or State, and what priority was assigned by the requestor. Each request is thereby assigned a weight and production priorities are determined. Such an approach insures that a maximum number of agencies can be satisfied and improves NMD’s responsiveness. The resulting prioritized requirements information is provided to production planners as a prioritized list from which planners can choose projects for the upcoming fiscal year. Their decisions are based on the availability of source materials (primarily imagery) and known production capabilities. The A-16 requirements also are used by NMD to review the level of funding necessary to meet the Federal and State agencies’ highest priority needs and to reassess the mix of resources necessary to be responsive. The Office of External Coordination issues a report to each requesting agency identifying those data currently
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Spatial Data Needs: The Future of the National Mapping Program available, in work, or planned for production. Also, those requests that cannot be addressed within NMD’s budget are identified. These reports provide the participating agencies with information so that they can seek other approaches to acquiring the data. Federal and State agencies can approach NMD in a number of additional ways to obtain data for their programs. Whereas the A-16 process is funded by congressional appropriations, production through cost-share, work-share, and data exchange arrangements extends NMD’s funding base and increases its ability to respond favorably to agency requests. Some agencies offer funding for mapping or proposals for data collection to accelerate the initial production of maps, or to update existing maps or data. Where the requirement results in the production of standard maps and/or digital data, cost-share or work-share agreements often are negotiated. Usually these agreements commit the NMD to production of maps or data in a shorter timeframe than is normal for an A-16 request. Such agreements also extend NMD’s production capabilities either through use of existing resources or through contracting. In instances where the requirement is for a single purpose product for use strictly by the requestor, provided NMD resources are available, fully reimbursable projects may be negotiated. Another avenue for meeting agency requirements is through data exchange agreements. The National Mapping Division provides guidelines for establishing exchange agreements with Federal, State, or private organizations. Digital data provided by organizations other than NMD are evaluated against a minimum level of acceptability based on accuracy, content, format, and lineage. Valuation of data and options for sharing production resources and providing training are designed to encourage exchange agreements. Both parties benefit; NMD obtains data for the National Digital Cartographic Data Base; and the cooperating agency essentially doubles its data collection capabilities. The NMD requirements process is a continuous process and those requests received outside the formal OMB A-16 solicitation are added to the requirements data base and priorities are adjusted as appropriate. Whenever adjustments are made, a revised priority list is sent to the production planners. In this way, project designs can reflect the most up-to-date, highest priority requests.
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