3D Elevation Program (3DEP)

Broad Agency Announcement Frequently Asked Questions

Last Updated: October 28, 2020

► FAQs will be updated regularly; new FAQs will be highlighted for easy recognition 

FY20/21 BAA Information Portal

 

Jump to Sections:  Funding  |  SeaSketch, Geographic Areas of Interest  | Technical, Lidar Base Specifications...

 

Proposal Submissions

 

1.1  After submitting a proposal, what type of confirmation does the applicant receive to know that the submission has been received?

Acquisition proposals (for projects to be contracted through the USGS GPSC) must be submitted electronically to the Contracting Officer Vickie Floyd at gs_baa@usgs.gov. Applicants will receive confirmation of their submission, generally within 1 week of the date of submission as well as an official acknowledgement of the receipt by the Contracting Officer immediately following the closing date of the announcement. 

Financial assistance (cooperative agreements) proposals (for projects being acquired through the applicant’s contract) must be submitted electronically through the grants.gov portal. To apply through the grants.gov portal, go to https://www.grants.gov/web/grants/home.html. Applicants will receive an automatic response from grants.gov acknowledging that the application was successfully submitted to grants.gov. In addition, the applicant will receive an official acknowledgement of the receipt by the Contracting Officer immediately following the closing date of the announcement. 

 

1.2  If an acquisition is planned for the upcoming 2020-2021 winter season, will submitting a proposal early result in an earlier approval/denial notification? 

The 3DEP Team will not begin evaluation and ranking of proposals until after the submission deadline has passed. The proposed submission window is not considered when ranking the proposals, HOWEVER once proposals have been ranked, the USGS will notify those applicants with time sensitive submissions as early as possible in the notification cycle. It is important to note that final award is based on the availability of funding. Applicants to the FY20/21 BAA should be targeting an acquisition window between February 2021 and January 2022. 

 

1.3  During the 2019 public webinar, the 3DEP team noted that over the last three years the average BAA award has covered approximately 35% of the total project cost. What is the average rate of awarded applicants? For projects that have not been chosen for funding, can you highlight some of the common reasons a project may not receive funding. 

In FY19, the BAA provided funding to support 84% of the requests. It is important to note: 
 

  • The acceptance rate has been going up as the stakeholders become more familiar with and structure their submissions to align with the criteria for selection as defined in the annual solicitation 
  • The 3DEP program reserves the right to negotiate with the applicant on the scope of a project should the request exceed the available funding 

  • Project support is based on the availability of funding. All projects are scored and ranked based on the stated criteria. The program’s ability to support the current FY  projects recommended for award will be based on the final FY budget.  

 

Every year we have a number of projects that are not selected for award. The final score of a project is the sum total of the score for the individual criterion. As noted in section VI. Proposal Review Information of the solicitation: 

Each proposal will be evaluated based on the overall value and benefit to the government based on project location and areal extent of proposed data acquisition, cost realism (cost per square mile for defined geographic area), cost share (funds contributed by applicant), maturity of applicant’s proposal and designated funding, technical approach and past performance as applicable and related to the subject of this BAA. The most important factors are project location, geographic overlap with areas identified by federal agencies as areas of interest for lidar acquisition, project cost and cost share (funds contributed by applicants) and technical approach. These factors are equally valued. Secondary factors include areal extent and maturity of applicant’s proposal and (maturity of) designated funding sources. Past performance is the factor with the least weight."

At the end of each BAA cycle the program provides feedback to all unsuccessful applicants. The feedback is relative to the criteria as stated in the BAA. Applicants who take note of the opportunities to modify their submissions to align their projects with the published criteria have a greater opportunity of success in the next BAA cycle.  

 

1.4  I am interested in possibly investing in the 3DEP program and I have a few specific questions: 

  • Does our company need to be State Certified or have a Registered Surveyor (PLSS) for the State in which we propose to acquire data? 
  • Is this a requirement per State or is each State different? 

  • Does there have to be a partnership agreement with another private firm or can one private entity take on the entire task of a specific AOI if they have the capability? 

Proposals are invited from applicants who wish to propose a partnership with 3DEP to fund lidar data acquisition and the creation of lidar derived elevation products. Applicants may fund an acquisition project through the USGS Geospatial Products and Services Contract or they may request 3DEP funds to apply towards a lidar data acquisition project where the requesting partner uses their own contracting vehicle. Federal agencies, State and local governments, Tribes, academic institutions and the private sector are eligible to submit proposals. The government will review proposals based on the project’s alignment with the evaluation criteria identified in the annual BAA solicitation.  

Your question suggests that you would be proposing to use your own contract vehicle. While the BAA itself does not contain language that specifically addresses the certification requirements, submission of a proposal includes a technical proposal and reference to past performances. During the evaluation period the evaluation team would verify that a company proposing to do work on behalf of 3DEP does have the appropriate expertise, license(s) and certification(s) to work in the state where they are proposing to acquire data.  

With regards to the specific question, there is no requirement that a private firm must work with another private firm to assure acquisition of an entire project area. It is important to note that 3DEP is a partnership program. Each applicant (in your case a private firm) is requesting to enter into a partnership with 3DEP to acquire data over an area of mutual interest and benefit. In FY19 partners offered up between 50% and 95% of the project costs. Cost share is one of the criteria against which proposals are rated. The larger the cost share, the higher the score for that criteria. All of the selection criteria are outlined in the annual BAA solicitation. The BAA does not designate specific project areas; as a national program we encourage proposals for any area of the country that does not yet have 3DEP compliant data (as noted in Attachment E: 3DEP Status Graphic). 3DEP encourages proposals and provides a higher score for those proposals that overlap with current 3DEP priorities as noted in Attachments F - H. All attachments are available as part of the full solicitation. In addition, the attachments will be available for download from the https://usgs.gov/3DEP/FY21BAA .

 

1.5  Is there a published scoring process?  

The USGS does not reveal the specific points for each criterion, however the annual solicitation notes the following: 

"The most important factors are project location, geographic overlap with areas identified by federal agencies as areas of interest for lidar acquisition, project cost and cost share (funds contributed by applicants) and technical approach. These factors are equally valued. Secondary factors include areal extent and maturity of applicant’s proposal and (maturity of) designated funding sources. Past performance is the factor with the least weight."

 

1.6  Can an applicant submit more than 1 BAA proposal? 

Yes. There is no limit to the number of proposals that an applicant can submit. Each proposal will be evaluated independently against the criteria as noted in the BAA. 

 

1.7  Is the partner commitment letter/Attachment D the same this year as last year? I ask because I've had partners filling out that for several months and I used last year’s form. 

BAA attachments are revised each year to reflect new program requirements and to incorporate feedback from our applicants on the functionality of the forms. The USGS requires that applicants submit the forms associated with the current open solicitation. 

Attachment D : Validation of Funding Partner is required for all Federal, State, local, Tribal, non-project and private sector funding partners listed in your funding table. 

 

1.8  If you plan on using GPSC is it necessary to complete past performance?

Applicants choosing to make use of the services of the Geospatial Products and Services (GPSC) Suite of Contracts do not need to complete the Technical Evaluation component of Attachment A: Proposal Submission Tool. They also do not need to make any references to a lidar vendor in the Past Performance Section of the Proposal Submission Tool. As appropriate, however, applicants may wish to include information on their ability to manage large lidar acquisition projects with multiple partners or work with their funding authority to secure and commit the funding.

 

1.9  For those applicants proposing to use the GPSC Suite of Contracts, if a preferred vendor is specified in the application does this guarantee that the vendor will win the project?  Where specifically in the BAA application should the preferred vendor be listed?

The selection of a vendor for any given project is based on several factors designed to result in a successful completion of the project for the USGS and for the funding partners. The USGS will make every effort to award the task order to the identified contractor, however USGS is not obligated to award the project to the preferred vendor and the selection cannot be guaranteed.

This information is not mandatory but can be included in Attachment A: Proposal Submission Tool under Suggested Source and Rationale for Suggested Source. If a suggested source (preferred vendor/contractor) is identified, a rationale for the selection must be included.

 

1.10  What percentage of awardees are new applicants in each cycle?                 

The percentage of new applicants varies year-to-year. Returning applicants are generally those who have state or regional plans and are strategically working across their entire area of interest (AOI), acquiring a portion of their entire AOI each year.

 

1.11  The BAA timeline in any year indicates the BAA is for acquisitions that occur spring of the federal fiscal year through winter of the following fiscal year. For example, acquisition for projects awarded through the FY21 BAA will occur spring of 2021 through winter 2022. Can a same year winter acquisition be considered, for example winter of 2021 for a project awarded through the FY21 BAA? It can be difficult to obtain a quote for a project more than a year out.

It may be possible, however there are several considerations and caveats:
 

  • The USGS must have the authority to allocate funding to BAA projects before any awards can be made. USGS authority is based on federal appropriations. The federal FY begins on October 1. If Congress fails to pass a full and final budget before October 1, the government will be operating under a Continuing Resolution (CR). Spending under a CR is restricted, thus limiting our ability to issue BAA awards. 
     
  • Exact timelines vary but BAA Submissions are normally due in late October or early November. We expect to complete our review and have a prioritized list of projects early December. All cooperative agreements must be reviewed and approved by the USGS and DOI, the level of approval is based on the size and scope of the award. The USGS cannot issue awards until all approvals have been received. The USGS Office of Acquisition and Grants may (pending budgets, USGS and DOI reviews and approvals) be able to begin processing awards by mid-December, processing may be slowed during the holiday season.
     
  • Processing of a Cooperative Agreement may take 30 to 60 days. Expenses cannot be authorized until the award has been issued; if needed the USGS does have the authority to issue a pre-agreement to cover limited expenses while the final award is being processed, however a pre-agreement CANNOT be guaranteed.

 

1.12  Where in the application do we indicate we have received an Independent Government Cost Estimate (IGCE) and are using that as our cost estimate?

The first section of the “Project Finances” area of BAA Attachment A: Proposal Submission Tool includes checkboxes (highlighted in the image below) that are used to indicate the source of the cost estimate. The first checkbox should be used if the applicant has an IGCE from the USGS Geospatial Products and Services (GPSC) Commercial Partnership Team. Applicants can submit BAA Attachment C: Request for a *PRELIMINARY Independent Government Cost Estimate (IGCE) to gs_baa@usgs.gov to request an IGCE.  Attachment C must be submitted no later than October 1 of any BAA year.

The second checkbox, along with an explanation of the source of the estimate, should be used if using an estimate received from a lidar acquisition vendor or using another source or method.

Whichever source is used, the cost estimate and project square miles will be used to populate either the total estimated cost or the cost per square mile in the following section. After values are entered using the chosen method, hitting “TAB” will calculate a total project cost that will be auto populated in the funding table on the following page.

Location on the FY20/21 BAA application form to indicate receipt of an Independent Government Cost Estimate (IGCE) 

Click to enlarge 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1.13  What is the benefit of a state partnering with the 3D Elevation Program as a whole?

3DEP is a partnership-driven program that provides consistent, high-quality, publicly available, application-ready elevation data that spans project, jurisdictional, and watershed boundaries. There are numerous benefits to partnering with 3DEP, including: 

  • A cost-share process that allows project funds from Federal, State, local, Tribal, non-profit, and private partners to be leveraged toward large data collections - reducing acquisition costs by as much as 25%
  • An end-to-end data acquisition and publication process that allows partners to concentrate on their business activities and mission rather than on contract management
  • Data validation processes and controls that ensure delivery of consistent, high quality elevation products that adhere to published specifications
  • A process that ensures data will be placed in the public domain for benefit of all, with a goal to eliminate unnecessary and wasteful duplicate data collection

     

1.14  Will 3DEP cost-share on QL1 or just QL2?

The National Enhanced Elevation Assessment (NEEA) of 2012 (https://usgs.gov/3DEP/NEEA) and the subsequent 3DEP Call for Action (https://pubs.usgs.gov/circ/1399/) concluded that the most need could be met by a national baseline of QL2 data. 3DEP strongly prefers to fund baseline QL2 lidar to further the goal to complete nationwide coverage of high-resolution elevation data in less than a decade.

Requirements for higher density data should be clearly defined and justified in your BAA proposal. 3DEP prefers that partner funds are used to “buy up” to QL1 or better, however, the program will make every effort to accommodate stated requirements to ensure that stakeholder needs are met.

 

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Funding 

 

2.1  Regarding partner contributions, does a project need to have both state and local contributions to be considered for a BAA award? 

No. Federal agencies, State and local governments, Tribes, academic institutions and the private sector are eligible to submit proposals. An application may be submitted on behalf of 1 or more partners. While the program encourages applicants to work across levels of government to determine mutual areas of interest and seek additional funding sources to help support the project, there is no requirement to do so. 

 

2.2  As the full /final cost of a project may not be known at the time of submission (applicant enters a cost ESTIMATE) will the award amount be increased / decreased to maintain the requested % contribution match once the final cost of the project has been determined?  The final contract price the partner signs with a vendor may be higher or lower than the estimate. 

For those applicants applying for financial assistance through a cooperative agreement or cost-share contract the final amount of your award is set and cannot be modified. The BAA evaluation team reviews your technical proposal as well as the estimated price to determine if the price represents a fair market value for the proposed acquisition. Applicants are encouraged to research lidar acquisition costs in advance of submitting a proposal. The Contracting Officer (CO) may request additional information or request to negotiate with the partner prior to award if the evaluation team has concerns that the ESTIMATED cost does not reflect a realistic cost to acquire the data. 

For applicants applying to use the Geospatial Products and Services Contract (GPSC), the final price of the project will be determined post award. The BAA evaluation team reviews the project cost in the proposal to determine if the price represents a fair market value for the proposed acquisition. The Contracting Officer (CO) may request additional information or request to negotiate with the partner prior to award. The award amount may be increased / decreased to reflect final project costs. The applicant may also choose to increase / decrease the project size to reflect the available funding. As noted in BAA Attachment A: Proposal Submission Tool, applicants may send a request to the GPSC prior to submission to obtain an Independent Government Cost Estimate (IGCE) for a specific AOI. However please note that the request must be submitted by October 1st to assure sufficient time to generate the estimate. 

 

2.3  For those seeking to use the Geospatial Products and Services Suite of Contracts, will the IGCE include the 6% USGS assessment?  

Yes. In addition to the acquisition and delivery cost, applicants utilizing the GPSC contracts are subject to a 6% assessment on the value of their contribution. This assessment covers both the DOI and USGS assessments. The USGS portion of the assessment supports the cost of contract management. The total cost of the project will include the acquisition cost plus the 6% assessment. 

The image is used to highlight the location where this assessment is charged on the 3DEP BAA application.     

 

2.4  Can you please further explain and / or provide examples of the following statement (from solicitation Section IV.B.2).: "State and local applicants requesting an award in the form of a cooperative agreement must contribute a minimum of 25% State and/or local funds to the collective applicant cost share. Federal partners are welcome participants in State / local applications, but their contributions may not represent more than 75% of the applicant’s cost share."

This 25% rule only applies to state and local applicants applying for financial assistance in the form of a cooperative agreement. If an applicant is proposing to commit $100,000 to the project (Funding Partner Total on Attachment A), a minimum of $25,000 must come from a State or local partner. See the chart below for other examples. The 25% is based on the “Funding Partner Total”. The “Total Estimated Project Cost” and the “Funds Requested from 3DEP” are NOT considered in this calculation. 

 

Total Estimated Project Cost  $500,000  $500,000  $500,000 
Funding Partner Total  $100,000 $200,000 $300,000
25% Minimum Contribution From a State/Local Partner(s) $25,000 $50,000 $75,000
75% Maximum Contribution from Federal Partner(s)  $75,000 $150,000 $225,000
Funds Requested From 3DEP  $400,000  $300,000  $200,000 

2.5  Our state agency receives a portion of our funding from a federal source. Should this funding be listed as a “Federal” contribution or should it be listed as a “State” contribution?

3DEP is a partnership program that relies on the collaborative efforts of Federal, State, local, Tribal, non-profit and private stakeholders to provide funding to support the program. The program tracks the percentage of federal and non-federal contributions. For accurate reporting we encourage applicants to list the full suite of funding partners who contribute funds to a project.   

However, many State agencies receive a portion of their annual operating expenses from a federal source and use it as they see fit based on the authorities under which the funds were transferred to the state. An applicant must adhere to any specific instructions or conditions noted in the original agreement. 

If the USGS will be receiving funds directly from the federal agency (via an IA) or will need to invoice the federal agency directly the applicant MUST list the federal agency as a funding partner and note the contribution as “Federal” in the funding table of Attachment A.  

For applicants applying for cooperative agreements, applicants should be as explicit as possible to support the reporting requirements of 3DEP; however, the minimum requirement is to list the agencies which are providing funds in direct support of the project. For example, if a state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is providing $100,000 to support a project, the proposal can list the state DNR as the funding partner, regardless of whether the state DNR received any portion of their funding from a federal source. 3DEP would encourage the applicant to note any collaboration with federal partners in their project summaries. 

 

2.6  Is there an upper limit (dollar amount) for 3DEP BAA Awards?   

The USGS does NOT set either a minimum or a maximum dollar amount for BAA Awards. Because each project is a different size, both the partner contribution and the 3DEP award are project dependent. The common factor between all projects is the percentage of the project funds that a partner is willing to fund. The evaluation team looks at the percentage of the project that the partner is proposing to fund.  

Although project scores are based on % and not on actual $$ amount, the USGS does have a limited amount of funding to use to support BAA awards. 3DEP reserves the right to negotiate with the applicant if a project is worthy but exceeds the available funding. In several cases 3DEP and the partner have agreed to a smaller project to reflect available funding. 

 

2.7  When you refer to “cost share", does that mean the state contribution part? 

Cost Share” reflects the partner (applicant) funding. Applicants can be Federal, State, localities, Tribes, non-profits or private industry. If you are a state agency applying for BAA funding, then your state funds would be the state “cost share”. The funding package for each BAA Partnership Project consists of the “partner funding” and the “funds requested from 3DEP”. The funding partner(s) and their proposed contribution are listed in the “Proposed Funding Table” in the Proposal Submission Tool (Attachment A). 

 

2.8  We have applied for a state grant to cover a portion of our state cost share. Notification on this grant will not occur until December. Can we still submit a BAA proposal? 

The due date for this year’s BAA submissions is November 13, 2020. Proposals received by the due date will receive priority consideration for funding. The BAA remains open all year; however, subsequent awards are based on the availability of funding.  

To meet the submission deadline, we suggest you submit the proposal and note the contribution as "Pending" (see example below) and provide the date when a decision on the funding will occur. The USGS reserves the right to hold the submission until such time as the certainty of the funding has been determined.  

The image is used to highlight where a proposal would note the contribution as "Pending" and provide the date when a decision on

 

2.9  How should the cost of upgrades to QL1 specification be noted within the BAA Submission package?

Reference to QL1 areas should be noted in the following locations in Attachment A: Proposal Submission Tool:

  • Delineate QL1 / QL2 AOIs in the Project Diagram
  • Delineate QL1 / QL2 AOIs in the Project Shapefile or KML/KMZ file
  • Under the Project Finance Section use Option 1 to enter the total cost for the full project
    • We recognize that a total project cost that includes both QL1 and QL2 AOIs will generate a cost per square mile that does not reflect a valid QL2 cost for the project. The 3DEP team will take that into consideration and will make the necessary adjustments to assure a fair evaluation of project costs.
  • Under Additional Project Details of Clarifications provide any text that will further explain those areas you wish to upgrade to QL1

 

2.10  What is the expected USGS federal budget for FY21 3DEP awards? Approximately how much is expected from FEMA, NRCS, and other federal partners? How do you expect the overall FY21 award amounts to compare to FY20 awards?

The FY21 federal budget has not yet been finalized and signed into law. Until the final budget is set, the 3DEP federal funding partners (including the USGS, FEMA, NRCS and others) are not yet able to determine their FY21 support for 3DEP. Over the past 6 years of the BAA (FY15 - FY20), the federal budget to support 3DEP BAA awards has remained consistent, approximately $10 - $12 M each year and support for the program within the 3DEP federal community remains high.

All projects are ranked against the criteria identified within the solicitation. Should the funding levels be reduced, the program will support those projects with the highest overall rankings. 

The 3DEP annual acquisition plan includes partnerships developed through the BAA, federal partnerships developed through the 3DEP Working Group and direct Federal, State and Local lidar acquisitions that are acquired to 3DEP specifications. 3DEP annual acquisition plans are displayed on our 3DEP web pages: https://usgs.gov/3DEP

 

2.11  How would a request for a multi-year project be presented in a BAA application?

The 3DEP BAA only accepts submissions for single year funding. As appropriate we do encourage reference to multi-year plans, such as “this submission is requesting funding for phase 1 of a 3-year plan” or you can point to a website that includes information about your multi-year goals and objectives. This information should be included in Attachment A: Project Summary or Attachment A: Additional Project Details or Clarifications.

 

2.12  Could you explain if projects that are planned for acquisition prior to the selection of FY20 awards can still be considered for funding? Is there a limit for applying for funding to support past projects (e.g., acquisitions that are more than 1-5 years old?)

Each project is considered on a case by case basis, based on alignment with the criteria for selection as defined in Section VI. A. of the 3DEP BAA Program Announcement (Proposal Review Information Criteria). 3DEP will not consider funding for any project that was acquired prior to the Lidar Base Specification v1.3. Examples of projects that have been funded in the past include:

 

  • The partner completed an acquisition which meets the 3DEP Standards (including the deliverables) as defined in the Lidar Base Specification v1.3  - v2.1  but the data was not in the public domain; the 3DEP funding was requested to provide the data to the USGS to be made available to the public through The National Map.
  • The partner completed a lidar point cloud acquisition which meets the accuracy specs as defined in the Lidar Base Specification v1.3 - v2.1 but did not include the generation of breaklines which results in a hydroflattened DEM. The partner requested funding to support the generation of breaklines / DEM and the delivery of the data to the USGS to be made available to the public through The National Map.
  • The partner funded or plans to fund a lidar project which meets the 3DEP specifications (including the deliverables) as defined in the Lidar Base Specification v1.3 -  v2.1 and wants to report the recent / proposed acquisition as an “in-kind” match to request additional funds for an adjacent project. This is generally presented as a state or local partner who has acquired or plans to acquire Area A regardless, but requests funding through the 3DEP BAA to expand the acquisition to include areas A and B.
Part of question 2.12, bullet point 3. The graphic illustrates a hypothetical project area 'A'  expanded to include project area

 

2.13  Is there any way to ensure that task orders are awarded in time to assure acquisition during the Spring acquisition season? Some state partners have trouble spanning state fiscal years.

BAA awards are based on the availability of funding in any given fiscal year (FY). The USGS will evaluate and rank all proposals shortly after the submission deadline which typically occurs near the first of November. If the USGS has fiscal authority to obligate funds (contingent upon the status of the federal Budget), the USGS will begin to notify partners of the status of their awards in late November or early December. Notification letters are sent out in the following order:

 

  1. Applicants requesting a Winter acquisition of the current FY
     
  2. Applicants requesting a spring acquisition of the current FY
    • The USGS recognizes that the Spring acquisition season occurs earliest in the South; later in the North. With that in mind notification letters are prioritized based on geographic location. Applicants in the south are likely to receive notification of award before those in the northern states.
       
  3. Applicants requesting a Fall/Winter acquisition for the end of the current FY or early the following FY

 

IMPORTANT NOTE: For those choosing to use the Geospatial Products and Services Contracts (GPSC), the USGS cannot issue a task order until all project funding has been obligated to the USGS by means of a Joint Funding Agreement (JFA) for non-federal partners or Interagency Agreement (IA) for federal partners. Immediately following notification of a BAA Award, successful applicants will be contacted by the USGS National Map Liaison for your state to begin the agreement process. The USGS National Map Liaison will also facilitate a meeting with a project officer representing the GPSC to help finalize the technical details and cost of your project. Partner participation is critical to assure the agreements to support the project are signed in time to meet the targeted acquisition dates.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Applicants requesting and receiving financial assistance by means of a cooperative agreement or cost-share contract will be notified by a Contracting Officer to complete the award process. Additional paperwork may be required. Partner participation is critical to assure the award to support the project is completed in time to meet the targeted acquisition dates.

 

2.14  Will the USGS include Tidal Coordination in their Independent Government Cost Estimates (IGCE)?

The USGS no longer provides an average cost per square mile for BAA applicants to use to estimate project costs. Each applicant must secure a cost estimate by means of:

  • An Independent Government Cost Estimate (IGCE) received from the USGS Geospatial Products and Services Contracts (GPSC) Commercial Partnership Team (CPT). Applicants should follow the instructions and submit Attachment C: Request for Preliminary Independent Government Cost Estimate (IGCE) as soon as possible and no later than October 1 to receive the estimate in  time to meet the BAA submission deadline.
     
  • An estimate received from a lidar acquisition contractor. The USGS will complete an independent review during the evaluation period to determine if the proposed cost estimates reflect valid industry cost for the specific geographic area and reflect a good value to the government.
     
  • An estimate from another source together with an explanation of how the cost estimate was derived to enable an evaluation of the proposed project costs. The USGS will complete an independent review during the evaluation period to determine if the proposed cost estimates reflect valid industry cost for the specific geographic area and reflect a good value to the government

If an applicant has a requirement for tidal coordination, the requirement should be noted in Attachment A under Additional Collection Conditions and/or Products and Services and associated costs should be included in the project estimate. For those utilizing Attachment C to secure a government IGCE, the form provides an opportunity for you to note a requirement for tidal coordination.

 

2.15  Does a small county have a chance at being selected for a BAA award?

The goal of the BAA is to help achieve the 3DEP goal of nationwide coverage of high-resolution elevation data in 8 years, beginning in 2016. To accomplish this goal, the USGS prefers to fund lidar surveys over a relatively large area to achieve economies of scale. Currently, the minimum preferred project size is 1,500 square miles, but smaller projects are considered on a case by case basis:

 

  • To fill in gaps in coverage
     
  • Where the project AOI defines a complete physical (such as a watershed) or political (such as a county) unit
     
  • For projects that represent significant cost share by the applicant
     
  • When the proposed acquisition covers an area over which significant changes to the landscape have occurred

 

We encourage you to work with surrounding counties to gauge interest in a regional acquisition to achieve economies of scale but also encourage you to submit an application. The BAA has, in the past, supported several projects under 500 square miles.

 

2.16  Some of my funding may be from a non-profit foundation. Can the USGS implement an agreement directly with that funding entity as part of the funding for a BAA project?  

Yes, funding agreements with private and non-profit institutions are done through a Collaborative Agreement (CA) or, less commonly, a Technical Assistance Agreement (TAA).

 

2.17  What are the agreements called between the USGS and local and federal partners for a GPSC contract?

For those choosing to use the Geospatial Products and Services Contracts (GPSC), non-federal and local partners provide their portion of the project funding to the USGS through a Joint Funding Agreement (JFA). Federal funding is managed through Interagency Agreements (IA).

 

2.18  With regards to a recent geologic hazard, for example an earthquake, is there a process to get emergency status to acquire lidar over the area?

3DEP is not designed for immediate operational or disaster response and so emergency data collection is not available.  The program is designed to provide complete baseline national coverage of high-resolution data and so is focused on larger project areas, particularly in areas that lack lidar coverage. The 3DEP data project lifecycle can be 18-24 months, or longer, from project formulation to product delivery. Data acquisition requiring fast response and data delivery may need to be contracted directly through a lidar acquisition vendor or, if the project size is appropriate, acquired using alternate modalities like UAS. The National Geospatial Program User Engagement Hazards Focus Area may be able to connect you with additional resources.

 

2.19  What is eligible for in-kind contribution and is there a difference for GPSC and COOP projects?

Proposed in-kind contributions will be assessed on an individual basis to determine how well the proposed resource enables or benefits a project and if the contribution represents a good value to the government. There are two primary forms of in-kind contribution commonly offered in BAA proposals: services and data.

Services like surveying or data validation, will generally not be accepted as in-kind contributions to the BAA. As a rule, if the government would not ordinarily pay for a proposed service, the service won’t be accepted as an in-kind contribution.

Data that is not already in or expected to be in the public domain may be considered for in-kind, within limits. Care must be taken when offering data collected under a grant from another federal agency where the terms of the grant include a requirement to put the data in the public domain. These types of data may be considered for an in-kind contribution if the grant data collection is scheduled to occur during or very close to the same year as the proposed BAA data collection. Data that should be in the public domain should not be held back to use it as in-kind contributions to future planned BAA applications. 

In short, organizations should carefully consider the value of the prospective in-kind contribution to the project and specifically outline how the contribution will benefit the project in the BAA application. Questions about the applicability of a specific in-kind contribution can be sent to gs_baa@usgs.gov for review and discussion.

 

2.20  Does the USGS cost share on additional derivative products (contours, hydroenforced DEM)?

No. Additional derivative products requested as part of the proposal can be identified in the BAA Attachment A: Proposal Submission Tool and in BAA Attachment C: Request for a *PRELIMINARY Independent Government Cost Estimate (IGCE) to be considered as part of project cost estimation. However, costs of these products are the sole responsibility of the applicant(s). 

 

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SeaSketch, Geographic Areas of Interest (AOI) 

 

3.1  Are you required to submit your project in SeaSketch? 

No. The 3D Elevation Program and the Interagency Working Group on Ocean and Coastal Mapping (IWG-OCM) have established a system to share information about areas of interest and proposed and planned elevation projects.  Federal, State and local requirements are available at the NOAA sponsored SeaSketch site: U.S. Federal Mapping Coordination, A Demonstration Site for Federal Mapping Data Acquisition  (http://fedmap.seasketch.org). This mapping site is comprehensive and provides a look at federal, state and local requirements and provides an opportunity for you to find potential funding partners. The tool is useful for BAA project formulation; however, there is no requirement for an applicant to enter their project in SeaSketch. Registration of your project AOI in SeaSketch is not used as part of the BAA evaluation process. 

 

3.2  If the project information associated with an Area of Interest (AOI) in SeaSketch has generic Point of Contact (POC) information, such as "USACE", how can we find out more about who to contact regarding potential collaboration opportunities? 

The USGS encourages all submissions to SeaSketch to include specific POC information. For federal projects that do not have this level of detail, the USGS will provide you with the contact information for the federal agency representative to the 3DEP Working Group (WG). These representatives work at the national level; if they are not in a position to provide direct assistance, they may direct you to the appropriate regional POC. Inquiries on specific project AOIs can be submitted to gs_baa@usgs.gov for resolution and follow up.

 

3.3  We are aware of several stakeholders who share requirements over our area of interest (AOI) but have no current funding. Should these stakeholders enter their AOIs into Seasketch? Is there value to listing these stakeholders in our project summary in our BAA submission?

3DEP encourages you to update all your requirements to Seasketch. Although the priority is to enter and recognize high priority, near term requirements (1 to 3 years) that would benefit from immediate collaboration, the program has a requirement for national coverage and is interested in partnership opportunities across the nation. To enter your requirements please use The 3DEP BAA Public Areas of Interest Project Collector Tool: https://communities.geoplatform.gov/ngda-elevation/sharing-proposed-3dep-areas-of-interest/

BAA Applicants are encouraged to note other stakeholders who may benefit from your lidar acquisition in your project summary if desired. We recognize that there are many stakeholders whose budgets do not currently support data acquisition; however, these same stakeholders may be in a position to utilize the data to create products and services of value to society. It is common for one or more state and / or local agencies to be responsible for procuring data on behalf of all state or local agencies.

 

3.4  Our agency has a suite of requirements, some have progressed to active planning, others are program needs to be addressed in future years. Is it permissible to upload all these requirements to SeaSketch or do we need to start the active planning process first? ­

3DEP encourages you to update all your requirements to SeaSketch. Although the priority is to enter and recognize high priority, near term requirements (1 to 3 years) that would benefit from immediate collaboration, the program has a requirement for national coverage and is interested in partnership opportunities across the nation. To enter your requirements please use The 3DEP BAA Public Areas of Interest Project Collector Tool: https://communities.geoplatform.gov/ngda-elevation/sharing-proposed-3dep-areas-of-interest.

 

3.5  How long does it take for an AOI to show up in Seasketch once it has been entered through the 3DEP BAA Public Areas of Interest Project Collector Tool.

Links to the public collector tool can be found at https://communities.geoplatform.gov/ngda-elevation/sharing-proposed-3dep-areas-of-interest/

Projects will generally show up 48 to 72 hours following submission. The USGS must manually enter the projects into the database after it is submitted through the collector tool. It may then take up to 24 hours for the viewer to refresh.

 

3.6  Do partners get an alert when there is an overlapping AOI in SeaSketch

The SeaSketch application is not currently set up to provide alerts when AOIs overlap. You are encouraged to check back regularly to check for opportunities to collaborate on lidar acquisition. You are also encouraged to contact your USGS National Map Liaison. The USGS National Map Liaisons are available to all potential applicants to help facilitate meetings between partners.

 

3.7  Areas shown in SeaSketch cross our proposed AOI - can those entities be brought in as partners?

We encourage applicants to reach out to all Points of Contact (POCs) listed for Areas of Interest (AOIs) that intersect with their proposed project area to develop funding packages. If an POC isn’t listed for an AOI send a note to gs_baa@usgs.gov. The USGS, working through the 3DEP WG member agency POCs and the network of USGS National Map Liaisons will help you to connect with federal and non-federal partners.

 

3.8  Attachment E: 3D Elevation Program: FY Status of 3DEP Quality Data includes reference to “Other lidar data”. Can you please elaborate on what is included in this category?

Lidar and derived products for 3DEP projects must adhere to the USGS Lidar Base Specifications and must meet the current definition of Quality Level 2 (QL2) or greater as follows: “Classified lidar point cloud data, with a minimum point density of 2 points per square meter, a nominal lidar pulse spacing of no greater than 0.7 meter, and a relative vertical accuracy of no greater than 10-cm root mean squared error (RMSEz)” 

The US Interagency Elevation Inventory (USIEI) is a comprehensive, nationwide listing of all known high-accuracy topographic and bathymetric data for the United States and its territories. Data included in the inventory that meet 3DEP requirements show up on Attachment E as dark green and are noted in the Explanation as “In-Progress and Existing Data that meet 3DEP Specifications”. Data included in the inventory that DO NOT meet 3DEP Standards and Specifications are depicted in the grey and noted as “Other lidar data”.

 

3.9  For those areas of the country identified on Attachments E-H as In-Progress or Existing Lidar Data, what is the best way to identify the 3DEP QL of the lidar point cloud? Is default coverage QL2? 

Default coverage for 3DEP projects is QL2, however a number of partners have chosen to pay to upgrade their project and secure the higher density QL1 to satisfy specific requirements and applications. All 3DEP data is included in the United States Interagency Elevation Inventory (USIEI) and the quality level is included as illustrated below.  The quality of the data is also available through The National Map (TNM) Viewer.

View of The National Map Web Interface

View of The National Map Web Interface

Graphic showing metadata location showing 3DEP quality level data on the United States Interagency Elevation Inventory (USIEI) w

3DEP Quality Level shown within the USIEI Interface

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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3.10  Should large lakes be removed from 3DEP project boundaries?   

Large bodies of water can be removed from your defined project area (DPA) but the collection area must fully capture both the waterbody shoreline and any islands of a size required to meet hydroflattening requirements defined in the Lidar Base Specification. Please describe the omission from the DPA in the “Additional Project Details or Clarifications” section of the BAA Attachment A. USGS may request negotiations to evaluate removal of the waterbody if necessary. 

 

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Technical, Lidar Base Specifications, Lidar Products and Services, Non-Conventional Technologies 

 

4.1  Are lidar-derived products like bare earth model covered by BAA? 

The BAA covers the acquisition, data validation and delivery of all products as defined in the “Deliverables” section of the Lidar Base Specification. A bare earth DEM is included as a standard deliverable. For applicants selecting to make use of the Geospatial Products and Services suite of contracts (GPSC), additional products and services are available however the full cost of the upgrades are the responsibility of the applicant. 

 

4.2  We have a requirement to generate one foot contours. Can the contours be generated from QL2 data or do we need to acquire the higher density QL1 data? 

Contours are automatically generated from the point cloud data. The technology will allow the generation of 1-foot contours from either QL2 or QL1 data, however the higher density QL1 data will result in a more accurate product. To best address the requirement, additional information is needed. To make contours useful for engineering work you will likely need to generate additional hydro breaklines, slope breaklines, and perhaps even some aspect of hydroenforcement work to support the process of contour generation.

Additional information on the subject has been published in professional journals by scientists, engineers, surveyors, GIS Professionals and other subject matter experts familiar with the topic.

  1. One such article Abdullah, Q.A. (2009) Mapping Matters Your Questions Answered The layman’s perspective on technical theory and practical applications of mapping and GIS, Photogrammetric Engineering & Remote Sensing, March 2009, 231-232 may provide useful information.
  2. You may also find the following article useful: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Coastal Services Center. 2012. “Lidar 101: An Introduction to Lidar Technology, Data, and Applications.” Revised. Charleston, SC: NOAA Coastal Services Center. 

For those planning to use the USGS GPSC suite of contracts to acquire your data, we would strongly recommend you discuss your specific needs with the USGS Commercial Partnership Team (CPT). The subject matter experts in this team can assure the development of a task order that will result in data that satisfies your requirements. For those planning to manage their own contract by means of a Cooperative Agreement, we would suggest you discuss your specific needs with the vendor you have selected to complete the acquisition, processing and generation of the contours. These professionals have the expertise to support your requirements. 

 

4.3  Our AOI intersects with an area of culturally sensitive archeological artifacts that we do not wish to be published. Can the USGS restrict the public distribution of lidar data over these areas.

The BAA currently states the following:

"The DOI Policy on Consultation with Indian Tribes and the DOI Policy on Consultation with Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) Corporations requires that DOI Agencies provide federally-recognized Indian Tribes or ANCSA Corporations the opportunity to consult with the Agency before taking any action affecting tribal or ANCSA Corporation interests. USGS has determined that the publication of airborne lidar over tribal lands requires tribal notification. BAA award recipients, both those using GPSC as well as Financial Assistance recipients, are subject to this policy.

USGS will initiate and manage the tribal notification and consultation process on behalf of all BAA award recipients shortly after award. USGS will identify any tribal/ANCSA lands within the project boundary and send a notification letter to those tribes. The BAA award recipients will receive a copy of the tribal notification letter. If the tribe objects to public release of the products resulting from the lidar acquisition over their lands, the data may not be published. All other project area data outside of the tribal land boundaries will be published. Funding partners will be provided a copy of the entire project data for their own needs but may not further distribute the data concerning the tribal lands."

Additional language for projects on surveyor access to tribal lands:

"USGS requests that the data acquisition contract contain language regarding access to tribal lands by survey teams. The contract should state that the lidar vendor should avoid sending survey teams onto tribal lands if possible. If the teams need to collect data on tribal lands it should be limited to Federal, State, county or Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) road right of ways. If a project requires additional points outside of these areas, the survey team will contact the tribe to determine their procedures for access to tribal lands."

 

4.4  Are Tribal lands the only potential exception to the 3DEP acquisition and / or public distribution policy. 

The Department of Defense (DOD) imposes some restrictions over military and other DOD installations. Any known restrictions in your proposed area of interest (AOI) will be identified and discussed with an applicant prior to award. Other concerns or questions about restricted areas within your AOI should be listed in Attachment A under Additional Project Details or Clarifications.

 

4.5  Is BAA funding available for mobile or terrestrial lidar collection efforts? 

No, the goals and objectives of 3DEP are currently best served through aerial surveys. The goal of the BAA is to help achieve the 3DEP goal of nationwide coverage of high-resolution elevation data in 8 years, beginning in 2016. To accomplish this goal, the USGS prefers to fund lidar surveys over a relatively large area to achieve economies of scale. Currently, the minimum preferred project size is 1,500 square miles but smaller projects are considered on a case by case basis:

 

  • To fill in gaps in coverage
  • Where the project AOI defines a complete physical or political unit
  • For projects that represent significant cost share by the applicant
  • When the proposed acquisition covers an area over which significant changes to the landscape have occurred
  • If the proposed acquisition will provide critical information to support a significant scientific or societal concern

 

Although mobile terrestrial lidar has been proven to produce lidar point clouds that easily exceed the point density and accuracy requirements of 3DEP, the project footprints are so small that we would likely be required to recollect these very small areas when contracting for lidar surveys over the surrounding area. 

 

4.6  Is the 3D Elevation Program (3DEP) Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) funding available to support research in the use of drones to collect lidar data?

The 3DEP Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) does not provide funding for research. 3DEP recognizes the need for continued research as noted on page 25 of The 3D Elevation Program Initiative – A Call for Action, Research Requirements., however, research needs will not be addressed through the BAA.

The 3DEP BAA is open to applicants who wish to propose a partnership for the acquisition of lidar data over designated areas in the US. The goal of the program is to acquire nationwide data. As such the program prefers projects over 1500 square miles. While we do not specify the technology, and applicants are welcome to submit proposals suggesting the use of alternate technologies; applicants should consider the limitations of drone technologies to support large scale acquisitions. In addition all acquisitions must adhere to the current USGS Lidar Base Specification except as specifically noted in the most current BAA Program Announcement/Solicitation.

 

4.7  For Flood Risk mapping projects (using FEMA funds) and using 3DEP cost share, is hydro-flattening required for the 3DEP requirement even though it is not required for FEMA's Policy for Standards for Flood Risk Analysis and Mapping? 

All data acquired in support of the 3D Elevation Program (3DEP) must adhere to the current Lidar Base Specification which notes a requirement for the delivery of a hydroflattened bare-earth DEM. FEMA is a contributing partner to 3DEP and has adopted the Lidar Base Specification for all partnership projects.

 

4.8  The BAA solicitation indicates “consideration of proposals requesting non-conventional technologies”, would inland bathymetry sensors (a) be considered a non-conventional tech and (b) be subject to consideration by 3DEP?

The BAA funding is set aside to support partnerships for the acquisition of terrestrial lidar. The goal of the 3DEP program is nationwide terrestrial lidar (with IfSAR in Alaska). The BAA program funding is designated to support this goal. 3DEP recognizes the need for research on new technologies and the need to develop acquisition strategies that support a complete landscape model which may require the acquisition of both terrestrial and bathymetric (inland, coastal) data. 
 

  • Since FY19, the USGS has provided some funding to support research projects that included the acquisition of inland bathymetry, however those projects were not supported through BAA funding.
     
  • The USGS Geospatial Products and Services Contract (GPSC) can support the acquisition of bathymetric data. The team can help define project needs and can develop an independent government cost estimate (IGCE) for a project area.
     
  • The USGS welcomes proposals through the BAA that include a requirement for both terrestrial and bathymetric data. However, the USGS will only be offer partnership dollars to support the terrestrial component of the acquisition. Any costs associated with the addition of bathymetric data will be borne solely by the applicant.

 

4.9  Will the recent 3D Nation study results change the 8-year old data window for this FY20/21 BAA offering?

Section VI.A.1 of the BAA Solicitation defines how a proposed project’s location is used as a proposal review criterion. Specifically, preference is given to geographic areas with no lidar coverage; areas with existing data where the quality level is QL3 or lower; areas with existing data that is more than 8 years old; or in areas with existing data where significant changes to the landscape have occurred.

The 3D Nation Study will not be complete before the FY20/21 BAA is released so this criterion will remain unchanged from previous years.

 

4.10  Can you explain the conditions under which Geiger Mode and Single Photon Lidar would be considered?

Applicants can propose to use either Geiger Mode Lidar (GML) or Single Photon Lidar (SPL) technologies for BAA projects. The applicability, risks, and benefits of GML or SPL for a project will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis during proposal review. 

 

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Contacts

Questions related to the BAA

3D Elevation Program (3DEP)