[Federal Register Volume 70, Number 84 (Tuesday, May 3, 2005)]
[Notices]
[Pages 22851-22852]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 05-8816]


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DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration


Contracting Policy for Mapping and Charting Services

AGENCY: National Ocean Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric 
Administration (NOAA), Department of Commerce.

ACTION: Notice and request for comment.

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SUMMARY: The NOAA National Ocean Service (NOS) established a 
contracting policy for mapping and charting services in 1996 that the 
NOAA Hydrographic and Shoreline Mapping Programs have followed since 
that time. NOAA seeks public comment on this policy in accordance with 
the FY 2005 Consolidated Appropriations Act request to work with the 
private mapping community to develop a strategy for expanding 
contracting with private entities to minimize duplication and take 
maximum advantage of private sector capabilities in fulfillment of 
NOAA's mapping and charting responsibilities. Comments on the 
contracting policy and strategies to expand contracting will be 
factored into the NOAA Hydrographic Services Review Panel (http://
nauticalcharts.noaa.gov/ocs/hsrp/hsrp.htm) Federal Advisory Committee's 
(HSRP FAC) recommendations to NOAA on the same issues. NOAA will 
consider both HSRP FAC recommendations and comments from the public in 
its update of the current contracting policy. NOAA will publish a draft 
revised policy and seek a second comment period before publishing the 
final contracting policy by March 2006.

DATES: Comments must be submitted within 60 days of the date of this 
notice.

ADDRESSES: Written comments should be submitted to Ashley Chappell, 
Office of Coast Survey, National Ocean Service, NOAA (N/CS), 1315 East 
West Highway, Station 6113, Silver Spring, MD 20910. Written comments 
may be faxed to (301) 713-4019, Attention: Ashley Chappell. Comments by 
e-mail should be submitted to ashley.chappell@noaa.gov.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Ashley Chappell, Office of Coast 
Survey, National Ocean Service, NOAA (N/CS), 1315 East West Highway, 
Station 6113, Silver Spring, Maryland 20910; Telephone: (301) 713-2770 
ext. 148.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The following documentation is the current

[[Page 22852]]

contracting policy for surveying and mapping within the National 
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), National Ocean Service 
(NOS): National Ocean Service, Contracting Policy for Surveying and 
Mapping Services, June 4, 1996.

Background

    A National Ocean Service (NOS) mission, as authorized by the Coast 
and Geodetic Survey Act of 1947 (33 U.S.C. 883a-i)1 is to provide 
nautical and aeronautical charts and other information products that 
support safe navigation for marine and air commerce, and to establish 
and maintain a high precision national coordinate system to provide 
basic reference data products for engineering and scientific purposes 
in support of commerce and industry.
    This mission encompasses those activities associated with the field 
collection of surveying and mapping data, the analysis and compilation 
of the data, and the dissemination of the data in useful products for 
the full public benefit. For the purposes of this policy, the term 
``surveying and mapping'' is defined as including, but not limited to, 
the following activities; geodetic control, hydrography, 
photogrammetry, topography, remote sensing, geophysical (gravity, 
seismological, geomagnetic) measurements, tide and current 
observations, and specialized data compilation processes.
    The Coast and Geodetic Survey Act also authorizes NOS to utilize 
state-of-the-art technology to improve the efficiency, as well as the 
scientific and engineering knowledge, of surveying and mapping 
activities.
    NOS recognizes that qualified commercial sources can provide 
competent, professional, cost-effective surveying and mapping services 
to NOS in support of the above mission. In general, it is the intent of 
NOS to contract for mapping and surveying services when qualified 
commercial sources exist, and when such contracts are the most cost 
effective method of conducting these functions. This policy statement 
documents the framework and conditions under which contracting for 
surveying and mapping services will be employed to ensure an open, 
consistent, approach. To support this policy, NOS will maintain a 
dialogue with professional and business organizations and constituent 
groups.

Policy

Private Sector Role

    It is NOS policy to procure surveying and mapping services from 
qualified commercial sources in accordance with Federal acquisition 
regulations and other applicable laws when such procurement is the most 
cost effective source, unless (l) A product or service is inherently 
governmental in nature; (2) there is no commercial source capable of 
providing a needed product or service to NOS at the required standard 
of performance, and at a price equal to or less than existing 
government services; (3) Government production, manufacture, or 
provision of a product or service is necessary for national defense; 
or, (4) the procured services cannot reasonably be quality controlled 
to ensure safety of navigation in the national airspace or coastal 
waters.
    NOS surveying and mapping activities considered inherently 
governmental in nature include services necessary to: (l) Monitor the 
quality of NOS products; (2) promulgate and promote national technical 
standards and specifications; (3) conduct basic research and 
development and ensure the rapid transfer to the private sector of the 
technology derived therefrom; and (4) maintain the Federal geodetic and 
navigational data bases. To carry out the above activities, and to 
adequately monitor contracted services, NOS will maintain a core 
capability of field and office expertise.
    NOS decisions regarding contracting will include consideration of 
factors such as (l) Sufficiency of resources appropriated to support 
national programs, (2) Federal laws, regulations, policies, and 
procedures governing contracting, and utilization of the private sector 
for commercial activities, (3) Federal laws, regulations, and 
collective bargaining agreements that ensure fair and equitable 
treatment for Federal employees, (4) availability of critical in-house 
technical and managerial capability needed to use commercial sources 
effectively, (5) Federal policies regarding the liability of 
independent contractors for their acts or inactions, and (6) Federal 
requirements to regulate and manage the national airspace and coastal 
waters.

Contracting Basis

    In general, it is NOS policy to award contracts for surveying and 
mapping services in accordance with Title IX of the Federal Property 
and Administrative Services Act of 1949 (40 U.S.C. 541 et seq.) 
commonly known as the ``Brooks Act''. NOS may, however, elect to employ 
other contracting methods in accordance with federal acquisition 
regulations and other applicable laws when conditions determine that 
alternative contracting methods best serve the Government's interest.
    The Brooks Act enables the Government to contract for surveying and 
mapping services on the basis of demonstrated competence and 
qualifications for the type of professional services required, and at 
fair and reasonable prices. NOS has determined that the Brooks Act is 
the appropriate contract basis for surveying and mapping services 
because the professional nature of the services to be procured require 
that potential contractors have specialized technical expertise. 
Surveying and mapping services are of a highly technical nature, and it 
is critical that all activities, from collection through compilation be 
performed to high standards of accuracy and quality control to meet the 
NOS mission of accurate, reliable products. By employing the Brooks 
Act, NOS is able to utilize a selection process that places priority on 
potential contractors' qualifications and expertise.
    To view the Brooks Act, Pub. L. 92-582 or the Hydrographic Services 
Improvement Act (which established the HSRP FAC), visit http://
nauticalcharts.noaa.gov/ocs/hsrp/archive/library.htm.

    Dated: April 28, 2005.
Peter Gibson,
Acting Deputy Director, Management and Budget.
[FR Doc. 05-8816 Filed 5-2-05; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3510-ME-P