A list of Q&As filling common knowledge gaps. FAQs will be updated regularly and new items highlighted for easy recognition.
► last refreshed: Oct. 18, 2023
1.01 What are the Fiscal Year (FY) 2024 DCA Due Dates?
The FY24 DCA was released on September 7, 2023. Project submissions must be received by email by 5:00 PM ET on Friday October 20, 2023.
Project submissions received after the deadline will be considered for review after initial project selections are made.
Preliminary IGCE requests should be submitted by Friday September 29, 2023 to receive the estimate in time to meet the October 20, 2023 project submission deadline
Project submissions will be considered for review until no remaining FY24 funds are available for obligation.
1.02 What application materials are required and where can I find them? Do you have a link to a full sample project submission and associated deliverables?
There is not a sample application package available. Applicants can find instructions and required materials on the current fiscal year pages linked at the DCA Portal. Application materials are available as soon as the DCA is released.
The DCA Participation Process is four steps: (1) Find Partnerships, (2) Select Project Approach, (3) Gather Project Submission Materials, (4) Submit Completed Materials
Required materials for a 3DEP or 3DHP DCA project submission include:
Form 3DEP-A or 3DHP-A: DCA Project Summary Form
Form 3DEP-C or 3DHP-C: Request for Preliminary Independent Government Cost Estimate (IGCE) (as appropriate)
Form 3DEP-D or 3DHP-D: Applicant Validation of Funding Partners for each funding partner
Vector GIS file defining the coverage area of the project submission represented by a polygon in shapefile, GeoPackage, or KML/KMZ format.
Instructions regarding additional information that may be required for selected financial assistance projects will be provided after project selection.
1.03 How do I submit my project for consideration?
It is very important that the project submission email indicates which part of this DCA is being submitted to (i.e., 3DEP or 3DHP).
Project submissions to the FY24 DCA should not include co-collected topographic and bathymetric lidar. Future DCA cycles may allow for topobathymetric lidar projects.
Joint 3DEP-3DHP applications or applications for simultaneous data acquisition of 3DEP and 3DHP will not be accepted.
**View the Navigate the DCA infographic for a step-by-step overview of the Data Collaboration Announcement application process.
1.04 After submitting a project, what type of confirmation does the applicant receive to know that the submission has been received?
Applicants will submit projects via email regardless of the data acquisition approach they choose (GPSC or financial assistance) and will receive an email confirmation of their submission, generally within 1 week of the date of submission.
1.05 What is the average rate of awarded applicants? Can you highlight some of the common reasons a project may not receive funding?
In FY23, the process (formerly a Broad Agency Announcement (BAA)) provided funding to support 81% of requests. It is important to note:
The process previously only included 3DEP.
The acceptance rate increased over time as 3DEP stakeholders became familiar with the project evaluation considerations.
Project support is based on availability of funding. All projects are evaluated based on evaluation considerations. The programs’ ability to support the current FY project submissions will be based on the final FY budget.
The 3DEP and 3DHP reserve the right to negotiate with the applicant on the scope of a project should the request exceed available funding.
At the end of each DCA cycle the program provides feedback to all unsuccessful project submissions. The feedback is relative to the evaluation considerations provided on the DCA Portal. Applicants taking note of the opportunity to align their projects with the considerations have a greater chance for success in the next DCA cycle.
1.06 Can an applicant submit more than one DCA project?
Yes, an applicant can submit multiple projects. However, joint 3DEP-3DHP applications or applications for simultaneous data acquisition of 3DEP and 3DHP will not be accepted.
1.07 Should we use multiple submissions for large regional projects?
If the project is made of noncontiguous areas or hydrologic units (HU) that are separated by large expanses, it is advised to split into more than one application. If the proposed project is a contiguous area it is recommended to submit as one application unless the total acquisition cost is over 5 million dollars for 3DEP or over 1 million dollars for 3DHP. If the total acquisition cost will exceed these guidelines, it is recommended to split the application into multiple submissions. There is no limit to how many applications can be submitted.
1.08 How would a request for a multi-year project be presented in a DCA application?
The DCA only accepts submissions for single-year funding. Partners are encouraged to reference multi-year plans where applicable. For example, including information like “this submission is requesting funding for phase 1 of a 3-year plan” or include a link to a website that includes information about your multi-year goals and objectives. This information should be included in the Project Summary and/or Additional Project Details or Clarifications sections of Form 3DEP-A or 3DHP-A.
1.09 What is the benefit of a state partnering with the 3D Elevation or 3D Hydrography Program?
Both 3DEP and 3DHP are partnership-driven programs that provide consistent, high-quality, publicly available, application-ready topographic data that spans project and jurisdictional boundaries. There are numerous benefits to partnering with 3DEP or 3DHP, 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 managing internal data acquisitions.
Data validation processes and controls that ensure delivery of consistent, high quality topographic data products that adhere to published specifications.
A process that ensures data will be placed in the public domain for the benefit of all, with a goal to eliminate unnecessary and wasteful duplicate data collection.
1.10 Does a small county have a chance at being selected for a DCA award?
For 3DEP, the goal of the DCA is to help achieve the 3DEP goal of nationwide coverage of high-resolution elevation, 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 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 DCA has, in the past, supported several projects under 500 square miles.
For 3DHP, the DCA will help USGS to provide the first systematic update of the nation’s hydrography data in several decades. Data for 3DHP must be collected by whole hydrologic units (HU) from the Watershed Boundary Dataset (WBD). Project areas cannot be clipped to a political boundary except where the project is adjacent to the US-Canada or –Mexico border. USGS prefers to fund hydrography data acquisition for whole 8-digit HU or large-area collections of 10-digit HU to realize economies of scale. Smaller projects or projects made up of 12-digit HU will be considered on a case-by-case basis:
To fill gaps in coverage.
For projects that represent significant cost share by the applicant.
1.11 Is there a published evaluation process?
Project submissions will be reviewed considering the overall value and benefit to the government. Considerations will include project location and areal extent of proposed data acquisition, cost realism, cost share (i.e., funds contributed by the applicant), the maturity of applicant’s project submission, and the technical approach and past performance as applicable and related to the project submission. Considerations specific to 3DEP or 3DHP is available from the DCA Portal.
1.12 Is the age of existing lidar an evaluation consideration for submitted 3DEP projects?
The age of existing 3DEP lidar will be considered for DCA project submissions for areas:
With existing 3DEP baseline data coverage as defined in Map 3DEP-E: FY23 Status of 3DEP Quality Data in areas where significant changes to the landscape have occurred or data are 5 or more years old as defined in Map 3DEP-K: Lidar 5 or More Years Old and is documented in the project submission.
In Alaska, Hawaii, or U.S. territories where no lidar coverage exists or where there is existing lidar but significant changes to the landscape have occurred or data are 8 or more years old as defined in Map 3DEP-K: Lidar 5 or More Years Old and is documented in the project submission.
Examples of significant changes to the landscape include urban development or natural disasters (e.g., flooding, hurricane, and wildfire).
1.13 Is it necessary to complete past performance if you plan to submit a project using GPSC?
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 Form 3DEP-A or Form 3DHP-A. They also do not need to make any references to a data acquisition vendor in the Past Performance Section of the Project Submission Forms. As appropriate, however, applicants may wish to include information on their ability to manage large data acquisition projects with multiple partners or work with their funding authority to secure and commit the funding.
1.14 Who can be a contractor?
GPSC-selected firms are listed on the Geospatial Products and Services Contracts webpage. For Financial Assistance projects, there is no requirement to use a GPSC contractor, but there is the expectation that the data will meet USGS specification.
1.15 For DCA applicants selecting the Geospatial Products and Services Contracts (GPSC) project approach, if a preferred vendor is specified in the application does this guarantee that the vendor will win the project? Where specifically in the DCA application should the preferred vendor be listed?
If a GPSC contractor has participated in the planning or partnership coordination of the project submission, applicants can identify that contractor as a suggested source (preferred vendor/contractor). USGS is not obligated to award the project to the preferred vendor. USGS’s selection of a vendor for any given project is based on several factors designed to result in successful completion of the project on behalf of the funding partners.
If a GPSC contractor is identified as a preferred vendor, the selection can be included in Form 3DEP-A or Form 3DHP-A: Project Summary Form under Suggested Source and Rationale for Suggested Source. Identification of a selected source is not mandatory, but if one is identified, a rationale for the selection is required.
1.16 Is there any preference for Disadvantage Business Enterprise (DBE) outside of a GPSC mechanism?
For projects choosing to manage the data acquisition outside of GPSC through the financial assistance mechanism, single entities or teams from Federal agencies, state and local governments, tribes, academic institutions (43 U.S.C. 36d), and not-for profits (43 U.S.C. 1457b) are eligible to submit projects.
1.17 Where in the application do we indicate we have received a PRELIMINARY Independent Government Cost Estimate (IGCE) and are using that as our cost estimate?
The first section of the “Project Finances” area of DCA Form 3DEP-A or Form 3DHP-A: Proposal Summary includes checkboxes (highlighted in the image below) for indicating the source of the cost estimate. The first checkbox should be used if the applicant has a preliminary IGCE from the USGS Geospatial Products and Services (GPSC) Commercial Partnership Team. Applicants can submit DCA Form 3DEP-C or Form 3DHP-C: Request for a PRELIMINARY Independent Government Cost Estimate (IGCE) to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org to request an IGCE.
The second checkbox, along with an explanation of the source of the estimate, should be used if using an estimate from a data acquisition vendor or 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.
1.18 Will the USGS include Tidal Coordination in their Preliminary Independent Government Cost Estimates (IGCE) for 3DEP?
If an applicant has a requirement for 3DEP tidal coordination, the requirement should be noted in Form 3DEP-A under Additional Collection Conditions and/or Products and Services and associated costs should be included in the project estimate. For those utilizing Form 3DEP-C to secure a preliminary government IGCE, the form provides an opportunity for you to note a requirement for tidal coordination. Please keep in mind that coastal tidal coordination requires preplanning and will increase project costs depending upon degree of coordination, size of project, number of tidal stations to be referenced, water level to be attained, and other considerations. Tidal coordination requirements should be noted as early in the project planning phase as possible.
1.19 Does collection have to be in the fall? Can it be in the summer?
Acquisition is not required to be completed in the spring or fall. 3DEP prefers leaf-off and snow-free environmental conditions; however, we can work with applicants for their desired season including leaf-on acquisitions. 3DHP does not have a specific data acquisition season.
1.20 If a 3DEP project is planned for the upcoming winter season, will submitting a project early result in an earlier approval/denial notification?
The 3DNTM team will not begin evaluation of project submissions until after the submission deadline has passed. The project submission window is not considered during evaluation; HOWEVER once evaluation is complete, 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 project acceptance is based on the availability of funding.
1.21 The 3DEP DCA timeline in any year is for projects that occur from spring of the federal fiscal year (FY) through winter of the following FY. For example, acquisition for projects accepted through the FY24 DCA will occur spring of 2024 through winter 2025. Can a same-year winter acquisition be considered; for example, winter of 2024 for a project awarded through the FY24 DCA? 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 DCA 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, limiting our ability to issue DCA awards.
Exact timelines vary but DCA submissions are normally due in October or early November. We expect to complete our review and have a prioritized list of projects in early December. All Financial Assistance (Cooperative Agreement) project submissions 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 Financial Assistance (Cooperative Agreement) project submission may take up to 60 days. Expenses cannot be authorized until the award has been issued; if needed the USGS has 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.
1.22 Can a 3DEP DCA financial assistance project submission request funding from the current/upcoming DCA to collect data for the following winter leaf-off season?
If feasible you should consider postponing your submission until the next DCA cycle. If not feasible, please move forward with the submission and include details and a justification in the “Additional Project Details or Clarifications” box of Form 3DEP-A-Project Summary Form. If necessary, the USGS evaluation team will ask clarifying questions through the Contracting Officer during project evaluation.
1.23 Is there any way to ensure that task orders are awarded in time to permit 3DEP data acquisition during the spring season? Some state partners have trouble spanning state fiscal years.
DCA awards are based on the availability of funding in any given fiscal year (FY). The USGS will evaluate and rank all project submissions shortly after the submission deadline which typically occurs in October or 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:
Applicants requesting a winter acquisition of the current FY
Applicants requesting a spring acquisition of the current FY
The USGS recognizes that the spring acquisition season occurs earliest in the South and 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 northern states.
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 DCA award, successful applicants will be contacted by their state USGS National Map Liaison 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 ensure that 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 ensure that the award to support the project is completed in time to meet the targeted acquisition dates.
1.24 Can you explain whether projects planned for acquisition prior to the selection of this year's projects 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 project evaluation considerations available from the DCA Portal. 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 or later versions but the data was not in the public domain; 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 or later versions 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 standards (including the deliverables) as defined in the Lidar Base Specification v1.3 or later versions 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 DCA to expand the acquisition to include areas A and B.
3DHP has not developed specific protocols for funding projects that include data acquired prior to the DCA but will require a sample dataset to evaluate how the data compares to current specifications. 3DHP will not consider funding for projects acquired prior to the initial publication of the EDH specifications and READ rules.
1.25 Will 3DEP cost-share on Quality Level (QL) 1 or just QL2?
The USGS is prioritizing partnerships to complete the 3DEP baseline, while also transitioning towards the next generation of 3DEP coverage for areas where the baseline data are 5 or more years old (8 years in Alaska, Hawaii, and U.S. territories). For locations where there is:
No 3DEP baseline data – The USGS anticipates lidar projects for QL2 data. Applicants can submit projects for the acquisition of higher quality (QL1 or better) data in these locations. The USGS will only contribute funds for the cost of QL2 data. Any costs associated with the upgrade to higher quality data will be borne solely by the applicant.
Existing 3DEP baseline data – The USGS anticipates selecting lidar projects for QL1 or QL2 data. Applicants can submit projects for the acquisition of higher quality (QL0) data in these locations, however, the USGS will only contribute funds for the cost of QL1 or QL2 data. Any costs associated with the upgrade to higher quality data will be borne solely by the applicant.
1.26 How should the cost of upgrades to QL1 specification be noted within the DCA project submission package?
Reference to QL1 areas without baseline 3DEP coverage should be noted in the following locations in Form 3DEP-A: Project Summary Form:
Delineate QL1 / QL2 AOIs in the Project Diagram
Delineate QL1 / QL2 AOIs in the Project Shapefile, KML/KMZ, or GeoPackage 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 ensure a fair evaluation of project costs
Under Additional Project Details or Clarifications provide any text that will further explain those areas you wish to upgrade to QL1
1.27 Does the USGS cost share on additional derivative products (contours, hydroenforced DEM)?
No. Additional derivative products requested as part of the project submission can be identified in the DCA Form 3DEP-A: Project Summary Form and in the DCA Form 3DEP-C: Request for a *PRELIMINARY Independent Government Cost Estimate (IGCE) to be considered as part of project cost estimation. However, the cost of these products is the sole responsibility of the applicant(s). 3DHP does not offer options for derivative products in on the project submission forms.
1.28 With regard to a recent geologic hazard, for example an earthquake, is there a process to get emergency status to acquire lidar over the area?
The DCA 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 thus 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 rapid 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.
1.29 Is there a repository of prior DCA project submissions for reference?
We do not make past project submissions publicly available as they contain financial, contact, and other potentially sensitive information. You can find descriptions of projects that have been selected for funding on the 3DNTM DCA Portal in the Resources links on the DCA Portal.
1.30 Are the slides available from the annual public DCA instructional webinar?
The slides are not available for download. A recording of the presentation is available via the DCA portal.
1.31 Are GPSC contractors allowed to submit projects?
No, GPSC contractors and subcontractors are excluded from applying to the 3DNTM DCA.
1.32 Is there a Funding Opportunity or Solicitation Number for the 3DNTM DCA?
If you are applying using the GPSC project approach, there is no opportunity/solicitation number. For project submissions using the financial assistance project approach, the funding opportunity number and corresponding SF-424 forms will be provided after the project has been submitted, reviewed, and accepted by the 3DEP or 3DHP Team.
1.33 Can a local government submit their application for the DCA via cooperative agreement when there isn’t a current contract in place for lidar services, but when such contract will be awarded in the next few months?
Yes, financial assistance project submissions can be submitted without having a current contract in place with a vendor/contractor. The Project Summary Form (3DEP-A & 3DHP-A) has a section for Technical Approach where you can provide information on how a vendor/contractor will be chosen and when. The review team will take this into account when reviewing the entire project submission.
2.01 As the full/final cost of a project may not be known at the time of submission (applicant enters a cost ESTIMATE), will the USGS matching funds 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 applicants applying for Financial Assistance through a cooperative agreement or cost-share contract, the final 3DNTM cost share amount is set and cannot be modified. Your technical approach as well as the estimated project cost will be evaluated to determine if the price represents a fair market value for the project submission. Applicants are encouraged to research data acquisition costs in advance of submitting a project. The DCA team may request additional information or request negotiation with the partner 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 after the project selection process is complete. The estimated cost will be evaluated to determine if the price represents a fair market value for the project submission. The DCA team may request additional information or negotiation with the partner prior to project selection. The 3DNTM cost share may be increased/decreased to reflect final project costs. The applicant may also have an opportunity to increase/decrease the project size to reflect the available funding.
2.02 For DCA applicants seeking to use the Geospatial Products and Services Contracts (GPSC), will the preliminary IGCE include the 6% USGS assessment?
No, the assessment is not included in the preliminary IGCE. Applicants utilizing the GPSC option 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 final cost of the project calculated in the funding table will include the acquisition cost plus the 6% assessment.
2.03 Regarding partner contributions, does a project submission need to have both state and local contributions to be considered?
No. Federal agencies, state and local governments, Tribal Nations, academic institutions, and the private sector are eligible to submit projects. An application may be submitted on behalf of one or more partners. While the programs encourage 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.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Federal agencies and the private sector are not eligible to apply for or receive a cooperative agreement, but they may participate as a funding partner in cooperative agreement submissions.
2.04 Is there a minimum cost-share threshold for project submissions?
There is no minimum state and local cost share. However, applicable statutes dictate that the USGS may not pay more than one-half the cost of topographic mapping (which includes lidar and derived elevation products, including hydrography mapping) carried on in cooperation with States and municipalities (43 USC 50). This law limits the USGS contribution to the project but does not limit the total contribution by the Federal government. Multiple Federal agencies may contribute to a project and collectively contribute greater than 50%. The submitted project funding package will be reviewed to ensure that the USGS contribution does not exceed 50%. This should not be construed as an offer from the USGS to fund 50% of a project submission.
2.05 Our state agency receives a portion of our funding from a federal source. Should this funding be listed as a “federal” contribution or a “state” contribution?
3DEP and 3DHP are partnership programs that rely on the collaborative efforts of federal, state, local, Tribal, non-profit, and private stakeholders to provide funding to support the programs. The programs track 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.
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 receive funds directly from the federal agency (via an Interagency Agreement) 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 Form 3DEP-A or 3DHP-A.
Applicants applying for Financial Assistance (Cooperative Agreements) should be as explicit as possible to support the reporting requirements of the DCA; however, the minimum requirement is to list the agencies 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 project submission 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. The programs encourage applicants to note any collaboration with federal partners in their project summaries.
2.06 Do contributions from partner federal agencies (like USFS) count towards the applicant's cost share?
Federal funding that comes from state or regional federal agency offices should be included in the DCA application and should be counted towards the applicant’s cost share. Generally federal funding that comes from a federal headquarters organization will be counted towards the 3DEP or 3DHP cost share.
2.07 Can a project be accepted if it does not have a non-federal match component; for example a high-priority area with no current 3DEP or 3DHP coverage?
Inclusion of non-federal funding is not a requirement for submitting a project to the DCA.
2.08 Is there an upper limit (dollar amount) for DCA projects?
The USGS does NOT set either a minimum or a maximum dollar amount for DCA projects. Because each project is a different size, both the partner contribution and the 3DEP or 3DHP award are project-dependent. The common factor between all projects is the percentage of the project funding provided by the partner. The USGS has a limited amount of funding to support DCA awards. 3DEP and 3DHP reserve the right to negotiate with the applicant if a project submission is sound is worthy but exceeds the available funding. In several cases USGS and the partner have agreed to a smaller project to reflect available funding.
2.09 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 DCA project?
The due date for DCA submissions is generally around October or November (check the DCA Portal for this year's exact due dates). Project submissions received by the due date will receive priority consideration for funding. DCA project submissions will be considered for review until no remaining FY24 funds are available for obligation.
To meet the submission deadline, we suggest you submit the project 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.
2.10 What is the expected USGS federal budget for the upcoming year's awards? Approximately how much is expected from FEMA, NRCS, and other federal partners? How do you expect this year's award amounts to compare to previous awards?
The FY24 federal budget has not yet been finalized and signed into law. Until the final budget is set, federal funding partners (including the USGS, FEMA, NRCS and others) are unable to determine their FY24 support for 3DEP and 3DHP. Over the past 9 years (FY15 - FY23), the federal budget to support 3DEP DCA-equivalent awards has remained consistent, approximately \$10 - \$12 M each year, and support for the program within the 3DNTM federal community remains high.
3DEP and 3DHP annual acquisition plans include partnerships developed through the DCA, federal partnerships developed through the 3DEP and 3DHP Working Groups, and direct federal, state and local data acquisitions that are acquired to 3DEP and 3DHP specifications. Annual acquisition plans are displayed on our 3DEP and 3DHP web pages.
2.11 For funding contributions, when would we have to have the money available?
Funding timelines depend on the date of acquisition. We ask that partners have their funding agreements in place 60 days in advance of acquisition and no later than mid-July of the coming calendar year (actual date TBD). The USGS could hold project submissions with a large percentage of pending funding until more certainty is provided around the available funding.
2.12 For 3DEP data acquisition windows in spring, getting the funding agreement in order 60 days in advance of acquisition may limit collection opportunities for spring leaf-off. Would allowances or exceptions be made in this case?
3DEP will prioritize projects that indicate a spring collection and will do everything we can meet the desired collection season. It is dependent on when spring occurs in your state and how quickly agreements can be put in place.
2.13 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 DCA 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).
2.14 When you refer to “cost share", does that mean the state contribution part?
“Cost Share” reflects the partner (applicant) funding. Applicants can be federal agencies, states, localities, Tribal Nations, non-profits, or private industry. If you are a state agency applying for DCA funding, then your state funds would be the state “cost share”. The funding package for each DCA Partnership Project consists of the “partner funding” and the “funds requested from either 3DEP or 3DHP”. The funding partner(s) and their proposed contribution are listed in the “Proposed Funding Table” in the Project Summary Form (Form 3DEP-A or Form 3DHP-A).
2.15 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).
2.16 Will in-kind data be accepted as a match for project submissions, and what are the requirements?
Yes. Proposed in-kind data will be assessed to establish its value (see Question 2.18). Note that project submissions are expected to also include new data acquisition.
2.17 What is eligible for in-kind contribution and is there a difference for GPSC and Financial Assistance 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 whether the contribution represents a good value to the government. There are two primary forms of in-kind contribution commonly offered in DCA project submissions: services and data.
Services like surveying or data validation will not be accepted as in-kind contributions to the DCA. 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 DCA 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 DCA 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 DCA project submission. Questions about the applicability of a specific in-kind contribution can be sent to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org for review and discussion.
2.18 For Financial Assistance 3DEP projects funded through in-kind contributions, can the USGS contribution fund QL1 specification processing of the in-kind data?
Each project is considered on a case-by-case basis. The DCA evaluation team will review the project submission and determine if the data and the processing cost of QL1 represent a good value to the government.
2.19 Is the funding for 3DEP and 3DHP separate? Approximately what percent of DCA funds will be for 3DEP vs. 3DHP?
Funding is appropriated separately for the two programs and the programs are managed separately. Thus, there is no percent ratio; however, 3DEP is an established program and has enjoyed robust funding; 3DHP is new and funding is expected to increase over time.
2.20 What does funding for 3DEP look like now that the national baseline is nearing completion? Will funding continue for new lidar?
Funding for in recent years has remained relatively stable. It is anticipated that demands for new quality levels and refresh rates will increase and the 3DEP budget will remain focused on elevation data acquisition and distribution, while the 3DHP budget will be focused on deriving hydrography from elevation.
2.21 Is the cost of a 3DHP project less if the area has been recently covered by 3DEP data?
The vintage of existing 3DEP data does not affect 3DHP project cost. 3DHP project cost can be influenced by a number of factors including complexity of the terrain, project size, and number of water bodies.
3.01 Are you required to submit your project in SeaSketch?
No. The 3D Elevation Program and the Integrated 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. The NOAA-sponsored SeaSketch site: U.S. Mapping Coordination, A Collaboration Site for Mapping Data Acquisition provides a comprehensive look at federal requirements and offers an opportunity for you to identify potential funding partners. The tool is useful for DCA project formulation; however, there is no requirement for an applicant to enter their project in SeaSketch, nor is registration in SeaSketch used as part of the DCA evaluation process. 3DHP does not yet have a process for using SeaSketch.
3.02 Does SeaSketch include both 3DEP and 3DHP priorities?
SeaSketch only includes 3DEP priorities at this time, but there are plans to add 3DHP priorities to SeaSketch for the FY25 DCA.
3.03 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 lacking this level of detail, the USGS can provide you with contact information for the federal agency representative to the 3DEP Working Group (WG). These representatives work at the national level; if they are unable to provide direct assistance, they may direct you to the appropriate regional POC. Inquiries on specific project AOIs can be submitted to email@example.com for resolution and follow-up.
3.04 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 for opportunities to collaborate on lidar acquisition. You are also encouraged to contact your USGS National Map Liaison. USGS National Map Liaisons are available to all potential applicants to help facilitate meetings between partners.
3.05 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 their proposed project area to develop funding packages. If a POC isn’t listed for an AOI, contact firstname.lastname@example.org. The USGS, working with the 3DEP Working Group member agency POCs and the network of USGS National Map Liaisons, will help connect you with federal and non-federal partners.
3.06 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 DCA Form 3DEP-A. USGS may request negotiations to evaluate removal of the waterbody if necessary.
3.07 Am I required to buffer my project boundary?
For 3DEP, The Defined Project Area (DPA) must be the Area of Interest (AOI) plus a 100-meter buffer. In addition, all tile indices must be clipped to the DPA.
Instructions for how to buffer your 3DEP project boundary are included with the DCA release materials in Form 3DEP-B: Instructions for Creating 3DEP Defined Project Area and Tile Delivery Scheme.
For 3DHP, The Defined Project Area (DPA) must be comprised of whole 10-digit or larger hydrologic units (HU) from a current version of the Watershed Boundary Dataset (WBD) with no buffer applied. Instructions for creating a 3DHP DPA are included with the DCA release materials in Form 3DHP-B: Instructions for Creating 3DHP Project Boundaries.
3.08 Am I required to use a specific tiling scheme or coordinate reference system?
3DEP DCA project deliverables will be delivered in the coordinate reference system(s) (CRS) and tiling scheme of the applicant’s choosing. If the applicant does not have a preferred tiling scheme, the 3DEP National Indexing Scheme is available for use. The 3DEP National Indexing Scheme is designed to be used with Albers Equal Area CRS (EPSG 6350). It is available as a map service for visualization and also for download as a File Geodatabase, a Shapefile, or a GeoPackage.
The Watershed Boundary Dataset (WBD) serves as the tiling scheme for 3DHP. Project area boundaries must be extracted from WBD data downloaded from http://usgs.gov/NHD/DataAccess no more than one month prior to application submission to ensure the boundary is derived from a current version of WBD. 3DHP data must be produced in the Albers NAD83(2011) (EPSG 6350) coordinate reference system (CRS) to maintain national consistency. The vertical CRS will be NAVD88 (EPSG 5703).
3.09 Can I clip my 3DHP project boundary to a political or administrative boundary?
No. Project boundaries that include partial hydrologic units such as those clipped by a political boundary will not be accepted except where HU cross over the international boundary with Canada or Mexico or to remove areas of open water area where a HU extends into ocean to the NOAA 3 Nautical Mile Line.
3.10 For areas of the country identified on Form 3DEP-E-H as In-Progress or Existing Lidar Data, what is the best way to identify the 3DEP QL of the lidar point cloud?
All 3DEP data is included in the United States Interagency Elevation Inventory (USIEI) and the quality level is included as illustrated below. The quality level of the data is also available through The National Map (TNM) Viewer.
3.11 When identifying priority areas, what is the best online resource to identify the age of existing 3DEP data in the subject area?
A map product may be developed for the DCA Portal that identifies the age of 3DEP datasets or identifies datasets older than a certain age. In the meantime, the U.S. Interagency Elevation Inventory is a good source for this information.
3.12 Is there a size limitation for project areas?
For 3DEP, the minimum preferred project size is 1,500 square miles. Smaller projects are considered on a case-by-case basis:
To fill in gaps in coverage
Where the project AOI defines a complete geophysical (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 where significant changes to the landscape have occurred
For 3DHP, DPA comprised of full 8-digit HU are preferred but combinations of 8- and 10-digit HU will be considered, particularly where full 8-digit HU cross political boundaries such as state or county lines. Projects entirely based on or including one or more stand-alone 12-digit HU will not be accepted except where required to fill data gaps or with express permission from the USGS Hydrography Data Acquisition Lead.
Applicants interested in very small 3DEP project areas are encouraged to use SeaSketch to find partners and expand that area into a larger project. SeaSketch is not yet available for 3DHP.
3.13 How do we create a 3DHP project when a watershed boundary extends beyond our state boundary? The neighboring state does not have 3DEP data along our border.
Projects must be mapped along hydrologic units for consistency. Smaller hydrologic units entirely within the state boundary could be selected for the project. The remaining area would have to wait until 3DEP data is available.
3.14 Where/how can 3DHP data and status information be accessed?
The first version of 3DHP will be published by end of this fiscal year and will be comprised mostly of NHD data. As new hydrography derived from 3DEP comes through the DCA and is accepted, it will replace existing NHD data. Spatial metadata will identify hydrologic units with updated hydrography. Status maps of available and in progress 3DHP will be available at usgs.gov/3dhp.
3.15 Are samples of final 3DHP project data available to improve understanding of how this data may be used at the local level?
No samples are currently available. An 8-digit unit (19050401- Noatak River) of Alaska data (derived from ifsar) will be available when the first version of 3DHP is published. Data for the conterminous U.S. will be published as soon as it is available.
3.16 Have best practices or recommended workflows for 3DHP been developed? Will more USGS guidance become available on standards such as automated processes and/or level of hydro enforcement needed to get a DEM ready to generate elevation-derived flowlines.
USGS is does not plan to develop or provide recommended workflows or guidance for generating elevation-derived flowlines to avoid unnecessary limitations on innovative methods for producing EDH for input to 3DHP. Data must meet the EDH specifications and READ rules available at www.usgs.gov/3DHP/HydroSpecs before it can be ingested into 3DHP.
3.17 In the August webinar it was noted that 3DHP won’t be focused in areas with ongoing work. What is the spatial extent for determining that?
A shapefile of available or in-progress EDH for 3DHP is available as part of the 3DHP DCA application materials linked from www.usgs.gov/3dntm/dca. The shapefile can be accessed from the link to Map 3DHP-E - 3DHP Status.
3.18 What is the anticipated turnaround time for a 3DHP project?
The timeframe for data to go from collection through validation is currently estimated at approximately 1.5 years, dependent upon project size and complexity of terrain.
3.19 For 3DHP, does the lidar data need to be collected in the same year as contract award or can historical data within the last year be used if it meets the specification?
There is no requirement regarding the vintage of the lidar collection but Elevation-derived hydrography (EDH) for 3DHP must be produced from existing, published 3DEP data. Lidar data that has not been validated and published by 3DEP as meeting the Lidar Base Specification (LBS) or meeting the LBS with an accepted variance may not be used for 3DHP DCA projects.
4.0 Technical, Lidar Base Specifications, Lidar Products and Services, Non-Conventional Technologies
4.01 Are lidar-derived products like bare-earth model covered by DCA?
The DCA 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 USGS Geospatial Products and Services Contracts (GPSC), additional products and services are available; however, the full cost of the upgrades are the responsibility of the applicant.
4.02 Can you explain the conditions under which Geiger Mode and Single Photon Lidar would be considered?
Data collected using Geiger Mode and Single Photon lidar systems do not currently meet the 3DEP Lidar Base Specification, which was written to specifically address conventional lidar systems. Applications for the use of non-conventional technologies will be considered and reviewed against the project evaluation considerations, with noted exceptions to the lidar base specifications. All exceptions to the lidar base specifications and other data anomalies resulting from the use of non-conventional lidar systems will be discussed, documented, and agreed upon prior to GPSC task order or cooperative agreement award.
4.03 Our 3DEP 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 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 acquisition and publication of airborne lidar for tribal lands requires tribal notification. All DCA projects, regardless of funding instrument used, are subject to this policy. 3DHP data will be derived from previously available, lower resolution 1/3 arc-second 3DEP elevation data or from data already present in the National Hydrography Dataset over areas where tribes have objected to public release of high resolution 3DEP lidar data products for their lands.
USGS will initiate and manage the tribal notification and consultation process on behalf of all DCA project recipients shortly after project selection. USGS will identify any tribal/ANCSA lands within the project boundary and send a notification letter to those tribes. The DCA project 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 for their lands, the data may not be published. All other project area data outside of the tribal land boundaries will be published. All non-federal entities must receive written permission from the tribe to receive a copy of the restricted data regardless of their status as a funding partner. Entities who receive a copy may not further distribute the restricted tribal data.
4.04 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 the applicant prior to award. Other concerns or questions about restricted areas within your AOI should be listed in Form 3DEP-A or 3DHP-A under Additional Project Details or Clarifications.
4.05 Does USGS have a definition of tribal lands? Does this include fee title lands as well as trust lands?
Per the DOI Tribal Consultation Policy, the USGS notifies and offers consultation based on federally recognized reservations and trust lands. The USGS does not notify on fee title or fee simple land. For the DCA tribal notification and consultation process, the USGS determines the location and extent of federally recognized tribal trust lands using the combined data of the Census TIGER American Indian Areas Related National Geodatabase and the Bureau of Indian Affairs American Indian and Alaskan Native Land Area Representations.
►Please note that the Census layer also includes state recognized tribal lands, but we do not offer consultation to those Tribes per the DOI Tribal Consultation policy.
USGS Definition of Tribal Lands: Tribal trust lands are lands held in trust by the U.S. Government (the trustee) on behalf of a federally recognized Indian tribe. These lands are subject to federal oversight for sale or leasing. Tribal trust lands are predominantly, though not solely, termed reservations but may also be called pueblos or rancherias, based on the unique history of each tribe. In some cases, a tribe may have trust lands that are located outside the exterior boundaries of its reservation, pueblo, or rancheria. A tribe may also own land in fee simple where it does not have the same jurisdictional power that it does on its tribal trust lands, nor does the sale or alienation of these fee lands necessitate the federal oversight required with tribal trust lands.
4.06 Is DCA funding available for mobile terrestrial lidar or Uncrewed Aircraft System (UAS) collection efforts?
No, the goals and objectives of 3DEP are currently best served through large aerial surveys. The goal of the DCA is to help achieve the 3DEP goal of nationwide coverage of high-resolution elevation, 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 and UAS have 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.
4.07 Is 3DEP DCA funding available to support research in the use of drones to collect lidar data?
The 3DEP DCA 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 DCA.
4.08 For flood risk mapping projects (using FEMA funds) and using 3DEP cost share, is hydroflattening 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.
4.09 The 3DEP DCA instructions note “exceptions for non-conventional technologies”. Would inland bathymetry sensors (a) be considered a non-conventional tech and (b) be subject to consideration by 3DEP?
The DCA funding is set aside to support partnerships for the acquisition of topographic lidar. The goal of the 3DEP is nationwide topographic lidar (IfSAR in Alaska). The DCA program funding is designated to support this goal. 3DEP recognizes the need for research in new technologies and the need to develop acquisition strategies that support a complete landscape model which may require the acquisition of both topographic 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 DCA 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 project submissions through the DCA that include a requirement for both topographic and bathymetric data. However, the USGS will only offer partnership dollars to support the topographic component of the acquisition. Any costs associated with the addition of bathymetric data will be borne solely by the applicant.
4.10 Does ancillary data mapping, such as geohazard mapping, help a 3DEP project’s chance of being awarded?
The USGS Geospatial Products and Services Contract (GPSC) can support the acquisition of ancillary mapping data. The team can help define project needs and can develop an independent government cost estimate (IGCE) for a project area. The USGS welcomes project submissions through the DCA that include a requirement for other ancillary data. However, the USGS will only offer partnership dollars to support the terrestrial lidar component of the acquisition. Any costs associated with the addition of ancillary data will be borne solely by the applicant.
4.11 When will Lidar Base Specifications for next gen 3DEP be determined? We want to ensure the new RFP for our lidar contract in FY24 has the specs needed for a 3DEP project.
A 3DEP Call for Action document is currently in circulation for comments. The quality levels and update frequencies stated in the webinar are consistent with the Call for Action. The Lidar Base Specification Online always provides the current version.
4.12 Do DCA GPSC and financial assistance project approaches require that data processing work be done within the United States?
The USGS requires all data processing for GPSC and financial assistance DCA projects to be performed within the United States.