The U.S. Geological Survey, which issues most official maps, is considering outsourcing or eliminating most of its major mapping technology operations because commercial remote-sensing products and other advanced technologies have replaced field surveyors.
Federal cartographic specialists say they will not easily find new jobs when their positions are consolidated. The functions of 400 federal employees at five locations will either be eliminated or transferred to an operations center in Colorado. Employees there will provide the bulk of USGS’ digital mapping service operations.
In recent years, USGS has transformed its role from mapmaker to map distributor now that federal agencies and state, industry and nongovernmental organizations generate an increasing amount of geospatial data. A public/private competition could soon further redefine USGS’ role in providing geographical information services. The public/private contest, known as competitive sourcing, will be conducted under the Office of Management and Budget’s Circular A-76 guidelines, with federal employees and companies bidding for the work.
Employees will generate map graphics, maintain an archive of print maps and integrate geospatial data at a new facility, the National Geospatial Technical Operations Center. They will assist all production activities and provide technical services associated with the Federal Geographic Data Committee, Geospatial One-Stop and the National Map.
Some of the center’s responsibilities will include researching and developing new mapping software and applications. USGS officials expect to release a solicitation for open bidding in January 2006 and award a contract next September.