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3DEP By The Numbers

Tracking progress towards the 3D Elevation Program (3DEP) goal to complete the first-ever baseline of consistent high-resolution elevation data - both bare earth and 3D point clouds. 

The 3D Elevation Program Initiative - A Call for Action, documented the process to analyze the NEEA requirements and benefits, the comparison of program scenarios (varying quality level and replacement cycle across the nation by cells measuring one degree latitude by one degree longitude), and the recommendation to acquire Quality Level 2 data nationwide (Quality Level 5 in Alaska). 


A nearly 5:1 return on investment 

The 3D Elevation Program Initiative - A Call for Action, states... 

The strategy is to leverage funding from partners and to increase contributions from all sources so that the investment rises from the current level of approximately \$50 million to \$146 million annually… At the full funding level, 3DEP could return more than \$690 million annually in new benefits directly to the private sector and indirectly to citizens through improved government program services. When 3DEP data are widely available, further private sector and government innovations will follow for years to come.” (2014, p1). 

This would result in a nearly 5:1 return on investment, informing critical decisions that are made across our Nation every day that depend on elevation data, ranging from immediate safety of life, property, and environment to long term planning for infrastructure projects. 


3DEP is based on community-wide partner investments 

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) was designated by the Office of Management and Budget (in 2002 through OMB Circular A–16) as the lead Federal agency for terrestrial elevation data. The 3DEP initiative is designed to fulfill that leadership responsibility and to ensure that the needs of the Nation for high-quality 3D elevation data are being met. This role cannot be filled by the USGS alone, and 3DEP is a collaborative effort that includes many partners—Federal agencies and State, Tribal, and local governments—who are working together to build on existing programs to complete the national collection of 3D elevation data. Private sector firms, under contract to the Government, are collecting the data and providing essential technology solutions to manage and deliver these data and services.  

Progress towards the goal to complete a nationwide baseline is due in large part to community-wide partner investments: from fiscal year (FY) FY15 - FY23, USGS funded 32% of 3DEP costs for data acquisition and data processing and management, while the community-wide partners funded 62% for data acquisition, with the remaining 6% of funding coming from disaster supplemental appropriations.  The information below summarizes community-wide partner 3DEP expenditures from FY15 – FY23.  


Bar graph showing 3D Elevation Program data acquisition Federal and non-Federal investments for fiscal years 2015 - 2023
Figure 1: Bar graph showing 3D Elevation Program data acquisition Federal and non-Federal investments for fiscal years 2015 - 2023. 
3D Elevation Program Fiscal Year 2015 - 2022 Expenditures
Figure 2: Bar graph showing 3D Elevation program fiscal year 2015-2023 expenditures. 


Note: The USGS received \$18.3 million in FY18, \$10.2 million in FY19, \$5.3 million in FY21, and \$7.3M in FY23 in disaster supplemental funds for lidar acquisition, plus supplemental funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act. The chart shows the funding by year obligated. For example, the FY19 supplemental funding was received at the end of the fiscal year, and \$2.8 million was obligated in FY19 with the remainder obligated in FY20 and FY21. 

The USGS funding for 3DEP is part of the Core Science Systems - National Geospatial Program line item funded by the FY23 appropriations at \$93.650 million. The National Geospatial Program line-item funds 3DEP, the 3D Hydrography Program, US Topo, The National Map viewer, and other components. The FY23 enacted budget included \$42.9 million for acquiring, validating, processing, and delivering 3DEP-quality data to meet the community-wide goal.