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National Geodetic Survey

Outsourcing Workshop - September 28, 2000

Morning Sessions, Questions and Answers*

Introduction - Questions for Charles Challstrom

Q: What are the prospects for new money in the program with FAA (Federal Aviation Administration)?

A: That depends somewhat on the FAA's WAAS (Wide Area Augmentation System) program. We're uncertain of the Department of Transportation's budget outlook for WAAS and other programs. Senior managers for both the Department of Commerce and the Department of Transportation have cooperated for visits to Capitol Hill.

Q: You mentioned that NOAA will contract 80 percent of new money. What's the other 20 percent for?

A: The remaining 20 percent is allocated for quality analysis and quality control, as well as planning and project support. This is our best estimate and corresponds with our experience in past cooperative mapping projects in Louisiana.

Q: You talked about contracting “based on budgeting.” What total dollar amount are you asking for?

A: We work several years ahead [in the budget process]. The 2001 budget we're looking at now was planned several years ago. For shoreline mapping we identified a long-term need of $10 million per year. The Proposed Budget asked for less, and we'll be pleased to get at least $1.5 million of new money. Part of our success depends on learning how much to request. Our official request is expressed in the President's budget.

Q: How many contracts will you put out and what will be the total dollar amount for those contracts?

A: We will monitor the language in the Congressional appropriations, and we expect the language may direct us geographically. We think we can do contracts valued at about $0.5 million each, or maybe somewhat higher.

Q: Do you still have the NOAA aircraft that were involved in the photogrammetry program?

A: The Turbo Commander has been redirected to other demands in NOAA, and the Citation is being focused on research and development projects due to its unique capabilities.

Q: What is the procurement process?

A: As I summarized before, the qualifications of potential contractors will be evaluated by a source evaluation board. Once the money [for contracting] is available, we estimate 2 to 3 months for the announcement of opportunities which leads to the selection of contractors.

Q: Do you anticipate contract-specific contracts?

A: We anticipate the indefinite-delivery type contracts and then issue task orders on those contracts.

Q; You mentioned software development opportunities. Will this be done in-house?

A: Historically we've done a lot [of software development] in-house. We're now supplementing our data base management expertise with a mixture of in-house and contract [resources]. The major portion of our software development will continue to occur in-house.

Shoreline Mapping Program - Questions for Jon Bailey

Q: Is there any reason you limit your data collection to film?

A: We have no experience with digital cameras, but we're collecting data for camera calibration at the Harrisburg airport. We're not yet familiar with collecting [digital aerial photo] data and evaluating the results. We're not excluding digital imaging.

Q: Where are the long-term contracting opportunities?

A: Hydrographic surveys are concentrating in Alaska. Some areas there have not ever been mapped. The draft plan is on the Web; anyone can see where the contracting opportunities are. But everything can change on midnight September 30 [the beginning of a new fiscal year]. NGS gets the specific areas to be surveyed from the Coast Survey.

Q: Is there one uniform standard for delineating shoreline?

A: Our standard will be in the statement of work. It's based on the scale of map we want to create and could vary from project to project. Our requirements have ranged from one-half meter up to 5 meters.

Q: To follow up on the film-versus-digital question, if you specify ground-level resolution, that will eliminate the need to specify a data collection medium.

A: We're typically looking for 1-meter resolution (for a 1:12,000 scale survey).

Aeronautical Survey Program - Questions for Jon Bailey

Q: What's the difference between your program and NIMA's [the National Imagery and Mapping Agency] Ron Brown initiative?

A: We have 40 years' experience and we created the standards. We try to ensure everyone uses the same standards. They [NIMA] are patterning their program after ours.

Q: Will you announce where the pilot programs are?

A: We're in negotiations now with FAA [the Federal Aviation Administration]. There will be at least two or three in mountainous areas.

Q: Do you provide software to identify the [obstruction] surfaces you mentioned?

A: We're developing software, working with a Contractor and NIMA, but we don't have software available now. We've been drawing the surfaces on USGS [U.S. Geological Survey] quads.

Q: When will you develop standards for obtaining data?

A: We have standards for acquisition and ground control, and we're addressing these now. This afternoon we'll have the opportunity to obtain suggestions from you.

Height Modernization - Questions for Ed Carlson

Q: Are you cooperating with FEMA [Federal Emergency Management Agency] on height modernization?

A: Yes, we're cooperating with FEMA on flood plain mapping.

Q: Are there software equivalents to PAGES NT?

A: We don't know at present. We don't have the resources to evaluate [a variety of] software programs. We'll promote standard results. We will develop a standardized data set to evaluate software developed outside NGS.

Q: Will we need to have a geoid model to produce orthometric heights?

A: A geoid model is in the software.

Q: What's being done on the software side to prepare for GPS modernization?

A: (Charles Challstrom) We're helping to refine the L5 signal structure, and we'll have the opportunity to include use of the additional civil signals in updated guidelines.

Q: Will height modernization happen before all the bench marks are destroyed?

A: (Charles Challstrom) It's true that the most important bench marks are [located] where the most activity is. It's a challenge because there is so much development in coastal areas, and judging from the number that are appearing on my desk and on Internet auction sites, there are many persons who don't realize bench marks are not supposed to be removed.