USGS could outsource IT-based mapping operations

The U.S. Geological Survey, which issues most official maps, is considering outsourcing or eliminating most of its major geospatial technology functions.

In recent years, USGS had transformed its role from mapmaker to map gatekeeper. Now the agency has begun a public/private competition to consolidate those geospatial information access services.

The functions of 400 federal employees at five locations will either be eliminated or transferred to an operations center in Colorado.

Last Friday, USGS began a one-year study to determine which functions will be consolidated and which the government should no longer be perform.

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.

USGS spokeswoman Denver Makle stressed that nothing has been outsourced yet.

“All we are doing at this point is studying our organization and looking at how we can get a more efficient organization based on what our customers needs are, based on changes in technology,” she said.

The new facility, called the National Geospatial Technology Operations Center, will generate map graphics, maintain an archive of print maps and integrate geospatial data. Workers will also conduct technical support, administrative duties and contract management.

Employees will assist all production activities and technical services associated with the Federal Geographic Data Committee and Geospatial One-Stop.

Responsibilities will include researching and developing new mapping software and applications.

USGS officials expect to release a solicitation for open bidding in January 2006.

Geospatial operations are spread across Reston, Va.; Rolla, Missouri; Lakewood, Colo.; Menlo Park, Calif.; and Sioux Falls, S.D.

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