Federal Land Asset Inventory Reform (FLAIR) Act
On March 5, 2008, U.S. Representative Ron Kind (D-Wis.) and Chris Cannon (R-Utah) introduced the Federal Land Asset Inventory Reform (FLAIR) Act (H.R. 5532), which was then referred to the Committee on Natural Resources. The intent of the proposed FLAIR Act is “to improve Federal land management, resource conservation, environmental protection, and use of Federal real property, by requiring the Secretary of the Interior to develop a multipurpose cadastre of Federal real property and identifying inaccurate, duplicate, and out-of-date Federal land inventories, and for other purposes.” Currently, fourteen representatives co-sponsor the bill, including Wisconsin’s Rep. Tammy Baldwin and Rep. Thomas Petri. As of March 10, 2008, the proposed FLAIR Act is under review by the Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources.
As reported in the GeoWorld (May 2008, p. 15), FLAIR Act supporters assert that existing inventories of federal land are outdated, inaccurate, and uncoordinated. Theron Hatch, writing for the GEO-Jobe Blog (March 21, 2008), adds “the Government Accountablity Office (GAO) has repeatedly (108th, 109th, 110th Congresses) designated Federal Real Property Asset Management one of the high-risk areas within the Federal government most prone to waste, fraud and abuse. One of the reasons cited by GAO is the fact that the government does not have a current, accurate inventory of the land it owns.”
Linking this to our discussion on a National Land Parcel Database, the NSGIC Blog (3.18.08) comments that “the federal government, as a land-holder and manager is in a similar situation [to state and local governments], where individual agencies hold parcel data (similar to county data) and that data should be coordinated up to a national system.”
The FLAIR Act, if passed, would require the Department of Interior (DOI) to develop a single, multipurpose cadastre of federal real property, to make that cadastre interoperable with the Federal Real Property Profile established under Executive Order 13327 (2004), and to pursue contracts as “surveying and mapping” services.* As highlighted in the GeoWorld article, this bill would require that the DOI “integrate with and leverage to the maximum extent practicable current cadastre activities of units of state and local government.”**
* What constitutes “surveying and mapping” and who is allowed to perform such services under Federal contracts are a matter of some debate and litigation between the GIS and surveying communities. For more information, visit URISA Policy Watch(postings starting in January 2007 Brooks Act Litigation) and MAPPS QBS Litigation Update, as well as the January 2007 Directions Magazine article, among many others.
** The National Governor’s Association issued a policy position (NR-17) on February 8, 2008, calling for increased state involvement in the management of federal lands through new collaborative partnerships.