The Future of NSPS

To surveyors everywhere, and in reply to the July Editor’s Desk:
 
 I ask that each of you give NSPS some time and read the following, and to consider each of the matters before your profession and your national society. I suggest this is the perfect time for all of us to unify as professionals, and commence a cooperative effort that will define our vision for the future of the profession.
 
By the spring of 2010, it had become apparent that ACSM would not be sustainable financially without some serious changes. ACSM was hit by myriad factors. Conferences were no longer revenue generators, the economy affected the profession and subsequently the membership counts, etc., combining into a “perfect storm” that rendered its traditional means of doing business and funding programs no longer functional. The ACSM governance structure left NSPS with little ability to institute change despite being 95% of the ACSM membership.
 
The one significant action NSPS could take was to initiate NSPS withdrawal from ACSM. During the mandatory withdrawal period, NSPS worked to unify the three independently incorporated ACSM member organizations (each representing a specific practice area with the surveying profession) into a single entity that represents the entire profession.
 
Did this process take too much time? Absolutely! For obvious reasons, withdrawal from the ACSM Congress was structured to be a deliberative process requiring a significant amount of time.  If Congress members could withdraw at a moment's notice, chaos would have ruled the day. However, this time was not spent idly waiting for the clock to strike twelve. Throughout this two-year period, NSPS continued to work at varying degrees, and with varying levels of success, to avoid withdrawal. Finally, this past March a NSPS/ACSM Plan of Merger was approved, and the appropriate merger papers were filed in Washington, D.C. and Maryland.
 
With the merger, NSPS can now devote all its resources to maintaining and enhancing its successful programs like Government Affairs, through which we have been on the forefront of the battle over LightSquared. Before most members of the surveying and mapping community had heard of LightSquared, NSPS was already on the ground running as the national voice for the surveying profession, protecting the high-precision user community.
 
Even with so much of our energy and focus consumed by LightSquared and devoted to the merger discussions, NSPS stayed active on all the issues affecting the profession nationally. Among those issues are federal prison industry services and its affect on private-sector surveying and mapping opportunities, and federal procurement of professional services, defending Qualifications Based Selection (QBS) where our success in turning around improper procurement solicitations is virtually 100%. The list could go on and on.
 
The NSPS is, and will continue to be, more than the profession’s voice in the halls of government. During this time of transition, NSPS has continued its efforts to strengthen its affiliations with the state surveying societies. NSPS provided national assistance to the state societies whenever and wherever requested. Our leadership has embraced an interactive role with leadership of the state societies as never before.
 
The NSPS dedication to promoting the profession in its broadest possible definition is exemplified by its diverse programs. Certified Survey Technician (CST) provides an advancement track for non-licensed practitioners. CST is not only a benefit to the technicians; it is also a benefit to all of us who employ these technicians. The NSPS role in the ABET, as the lead society for the accreditation of surveying/geomatics educational programs, is one way NSPS helps to maintain the high standard of the surveying profession while helping to shape the future vision and scope of the profession. 
 
While I invite you to visit the NSPS Website at www.nspsmo.org to review all of the activities, programs and benefits of NSPS, this discussion is not about what NSPS has been and how to preserve it, but what NSPS and the profession can and should be in the future. Immediately upon the approval of the Plan of Merger at the spring NSPS meeting in Charlotte, NC, NSPS initiated several actions that we believe will begin to define the NSPS future.
 
The first order of business will be determining ways to ensure that NSPS revenues/resources are used in the wisest, most efficient manner. To help facilitate this, cost-savings measures have already been taken. In August, the headquarters office will be moved to a new location in Frederick, Maryland. This is not only a significant cost savings; we believe that this is a better space for the NSPS office, as well.
 
The publications provided to our members as a benefit will now be provided in digital format. Initial projections indicate this could move the publications from budget-red to budget-black. This was not a decision taken lightly; it is our intention to make whatever adjustments we can that will allow NSPS to devote the maximum possible percentage of our revenues to the programs with the greatest positive impact on our profession, now and into the future.
 
One immediate impact is that NSPS has initiated plans to devote far greater resources to the Governmental Affairs Program, thus making a successful program even stronger.
 
A review of the NSPS bylaws is in progress. The bylaws will be edited in ways that will ensure that NSPS membership and participation can be all-inclusive. It is our hope to truly represent, through membership, all of us who make careers in surveying and mapping, regardless of how we define our practice.
 
It has long been an NSPS goal to strengthen its affiliations with each of the state surveying societies. NSPS is formulating a new affiliation program that will facilitate cooperation among the state and the national organizations and, at the same time, foster greater participation by the state affiliates in the operation of the national organization. The plan is to offer NSPS membership at a significantly reduced rate to all members of any state affiliate that commits its full membership to NSPS membership. All state societies that participate will have a voting seat on the NSPS board of directors.
 
With greater participation of both the affiliate and its membership in the operation of the national organization, there will be an immediate impact on who we are, who and how we speak for the profession, and how our vision for the profession will evolve. NSPS will speak with a voice that truly reflects the diversity of its membership and our goals for the profession.
 
As a professional surveyor, and a small business owner, I appreciate all the opportunity surveying has accorded me. I am prepared to speak with, and/or meet with, any of you about this or any other matter you feel is critical to the advancement of our profession. 
 
What do we ask of you? Take the time to reflect on all of this. Consider all that your profession has meant to you, how you would like to see it evolve, and what you are willing to do to help that come to be. As we have seen with LightSquared, we can be both strong and effective when we commit to acting in concert.
 
I ask each of us to make a commitment to the future of our profession. It is not in the profession’s best interest to simply sit back and wait a year to see what NSPS will do. Instead, I invite each of you to roll up your sleeves and embrace the worthy goal of improving the profession and be a part of what NSPS will do. Do more than simply ask what our vision will be, share all that you can to help shape that vision. The greatest success will come from the greatest voice.
 
Surveying is a constantly evolving profession. Our vision should be built in that image. 
 
Respectfully,
Robert Dahn, NSPS President
bdahn@meehangoodin.com
860-643-2520

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