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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