March 09, 2007

Comments on Brooks litigation (MAPPS lawsuit) and QBS - qualifications based selection

This past week at GITA conference 30 there was a panel discussion that touched on the topic of certification and licensing (don't confuse the two as they are very different!). After lengthy discussion the topic then turned to the pending MAPPS vs US government litigation and the ramifications the proceedings could have on the industry. In a recent GISuser newsletter I included the following statement in an item regarding litigation associated with the Federal procurement policy currently pending before a Federal court:
‘Simply put, an adverse outcome of this case would exclude everyone but licensed architects, engineers, and surveyors from being awarded US federal government contracts for "mapping" services’.
That statement made it appear that I was stating a fact. I've was contacted by John Palatiello, Executive Director, MAPPS, and informed that in his judgement the statement is not a fact, but rather the opinion of groups opposed to the litigation (GITA, URISA, UCGIS, and GISCI) - indeed the statement was derived from a document published by GITA and distributed at the conference. To clarify, Palatiello tells me that among those Federal agencies that presently use the Brooks Act process of qualifications based selection, many have awarded contracts for mapping and geospatial services to firms other than those with licensed architects, engineers, and surveyors. As Brant Howard of CompassData, Centennial, CO, a member of the Board of Directors of MAPPS, one of the plaintiffs in the legal case, said at the associations panel session at the GITA conference in San Antonio, firms such as ESRI and many others have won Brooks Act procurements by Federal agencies, via the qualifications based selection process, and they are not considered licensed architecture, engineering or surveying firms.
Following that,  a reader from seattle contacted me to share his opinion... Have you considered (in Mr. Palatiello's reponse) that companies like ESRI have won Brooks Act procurements precisely because the definition of "mapping" has previously been inclusive of non-engineering applications of GIS. Whether these companies would continue to be eligible for Brooks Act procurements appears to be the central issue with the MAPPS lawsuit. A statement that had been qualified with this distinction may have been clearer. 
This topic is by no means cut and dry and there are obviously differing opinions (to say the least!) If you have an opinion on the MAPPS legal proceedings, the Brooks Act, or perhaps on the topic of QBS (qualifications based selection) for federal procurement contracts I'd be glad to hear from you. It should be noted that one one side of the camp we seem to have Management Association for Private Photogrammetric Surveyors (MAPPS), American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), National Society of Professional Engineers (NSPE) and Council on Federal Procurement of Architectural and Engineering Services (COFPAES)... in opposition to their position we have GITA, URISA, UCGIS, and GISCI. For more information see for an opposition opinion see - Call For Help To The Geospatial Community - MAPPS lawsuit update from GITA GEOXchange - of note: Palatiello will be speaking on this topic this week-end at the ACSM event. For details on this see Brooks Act Litigation Will be Subject of Presentation at ACSM Convention (

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