Recommended Activities at the National Level
Three fundamental components of a multipurpose cadastre have been identified in this report: (1) a geodetic reference framework. (2) a base map, and (3) a cadastral overlay. Only where these technical components are adequately provided can the development of the cadastre proceed on a sound basis and eventually support permanent linkage mechanisms among real-property title, fiscal, and administrative records. Moreover, only where these technical components are adequately provided can the multipurpose cadastre eventually be expanded to a multipurpose land-data system incorporating natural resource base and land-related socioeconomic data.
The outline of required standards and procedures presented is intended primarily for those who would support the organization, design, or administration of a multipurpose cadastre at the county level. This concluding chapter offers suggestions for steps that might currently be taken by federal agencies and national associations that support these recommendations.
There are many federal programs that could use a county-level cadastre in support of their operations, some of which were listed in Section 7.2.5. The cadastre would provide the vehicle for recognizing and preserving a high quality of cadastral surveys locating the boundaries of federal ownership and interests in land. A wealth of land data would be more readily available for site evaluations for energy facilities, for federal installations, for historic preservation, for management of agricultural programs, for development of natural resources, and for control of pollution. A common vehicle would be available for permanent recording of the decisions reached in these programs. National accounts could be more readily compiled for evaluations of national assets and who controls them.
Other federal programs will benefit from the cadastre not so much by using it
as by depending on it to support their objectives directly. Examples are the programs of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) established by the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA), seeking lower costs for buying homes, and the many federal programs aimed at developing and employing the professional human resources of the nation.
CLEAR STATEMENTS OF OBJECTIVES NEEDED
Any federal initiatives in this field will be in an intergovernmental context. One of the first items on any federal agenda for a multipurpose cadastre should be to resolve a clear statement of the objectives of federal initiative, whether by one agency or an interagency consortium. Land-Information Systems can mean so many different things to different people that confusion of objectives is one of the greatest risks to success of a federal effort.
The list following this paragraph offers a few suggestions of the general areas into which the long-range objectives of a federal initiative might fall. The more immediate, short-range objectives are too varied and too specific to individual agencies and programs to attempt any listing here.
Promote sharing of technology and of data through use of common standards for definitions of terms and for data quality.
Encourage volume production of software and equipment, to realize lower costs.
Encourage and support the establishment of centers of excellence in land-information science.
Create opportunities for useful employment of young people with professional education.
Speed up the delivery of benefits of the multipurpose cadastre in each locality, as detailed in Table 1.1, for example:
Better access for individual land owners and citizens to land records that may affect their personal interests.
Better informed public decisions through access to shared records of all public actions affecting specific land parcels.
More effective land-use planning and protection of scarce land-based resources through accurate records of land qualities and existing restrictions.
More fair and equal taxation of real estate through total accounting of real property.
Clearing up of confusions or inconsistencies in present records relating to adjacent land parcels.
More effective management of public lands.
Lower costs for public utilities through sharing of basic geographic data.
DRAFTING AND PROMOTION OF STANDARDS
Federal agencies are in a difficult position to proceed with the drafting and promotion of standards for a multipurpose cadastre without being accused of seeking to take over control of the data systems from state and local governments. However, by working with the designated representatives of the local governments through their national associations as participants from the very beginnings of a federal initiative, the initiative should be more informative and also more effective in gaining acceptance of the results by the county and municipal governments.
We urge the National Association of Counties (NACo), through its appropriate constituent organizations and staff, to organize a review of the findings and recommendations of this report that involves representatives of local user agencies and identify the areas in which more specific standards and procedures are most needed to make the approach described here operational. We urge that the federal offices with the technical skills required for defining standards for geodetic surveying, base mapping, cadastral mapping, and land-attribute data be invited by NACo to contribute to these processes at the appropriate points.
A number of other national associations also might play important roles in the research, drafting, or publication of recommended procedures and standards, depending on how NACo chooses to define its own role in this effort. The prime candidates are the other national associations and agencies that will be involved in the development, operation, and use of multipurpose cadastres, including those affiliated with the Institute for Modernization of Land Data Systems (MOLDS).
RECOGNITION OF STANDARDS BY FEDERAL AGENCIES
The Committee on Geodesy (1980) report recommended (in Section 4.3.2) that any federal agencies that produce or fund components of a multipurpose cadastre (such as right-of-way surveys or large-scale maps) should be required to adhere to a federal plan that establishes the “format” for these components or, until such a plan is adopted, to the individual state plan, if any. Given the materials presented in Chapters 2 through 5, the word “format” should be changed to read “procedures and standards” and should include the more detailed recommendations that might result from further initiatives by organizations such as NACo, as recommended in the preceding section.
There remains an urgent need for designation of a single lead agency in the federal government in the field of surveying and mapping to provide a structure for the formal recognition of procedures and standards for a multipurpose cadastre, as described above, and to oversee compliance with them by the federal establishment. The need for designation of such an agency was stated in the report to the Office of Management and Budget by the Federal Mapping Task Force (1973), was endorsed
in the concluding chapter of the Committee on Geodesy (1980) report, and was reiterated in the Committee on Geodesy (1981) report.
ORGANIZING A PROGRAM OF FEDERAL ASSISTANCE
Standards and procedures of the scope recommended in this report will not by themselves assure that cadastres will be organized on any broad scale. If the development of a multipurpose cadastre is left to wait for local leadership. the results will be slow to be realized, disjointed, and of uneven quality. There will be a risk of general rejection of this approach across the nation if the first few localities to attempt it are not successful.
The risks of such failures can be minimized with an adequate federal commitment to follow through with support for the cadastres and to maintain high standards of quality for the programs that are assisted. The stability that a federal assistance program would lend to development of local cadastres will foster many of the other long-range commitments that are important to its success, such as participation by private utility companies and the attraction of talented young people into the professional fields where they will be needed. The federal-aid highway program provides an example of the potential effect of such a program in generating high standards of professional work and productivity in the responsible offices of state governments throughout the nation.
The dimensions of a recommended program of federal assistance (see Section 7.5.5) with an estimated annual budget of $90 million, which represents 40 percent of the annual costs, are vaguely defined in this report. There is much that can be done at present to define more specifically how the program would work in states and counties, which would be bearing 60 percent of the costs (see Table 7.4), and to build a plan and budget for a federal program with enough specifies to be considered by the Congress.