Freesteel Blog » The fate of the Autodesk sponsored THREE-D Act

The fate of the Autodesk sponsored THREE-D Act

Saturday, November 3rd, 2012 at 9:14 pm Written by:

A few weeks ago, while doing some background homework on this here Autodesk company that appears to have bought out my life, my work and my life’s work, I did some homework and uncovered this 2009-05-10 article:

Autodesk CEO Carl Bass said in a recent interview that he wants to see the government “mandate” the use of 3-D technology to prevent mistakes, reduce waste and achieve the best results.

…[Autodesk] sees a potential windfall in such requirements and has a lobbyist in Washington, D.C., as well as advocates talking to state officials who oversee how federal funds will be used.

I approve of the idea of forcing the administration of the built landscape to get beyond the paper and pencil age and into the era of proper digitization, so we could browse live maps on the internet that accurately represented all the current infrastructure — and all proposed plans of changes submitted by developers to that landscape.

Such a map could lead towards cracking the much more severe issue of the screwed-up legal infrastructure — Who owns this piece of land that I am standing on? — for the law is totally tangled and obscured and cannot be wrangled by the simple application of a shovel. It is far easier to dig a ten foot hole to find out whether an electricity cable passes underneath than to determin who controls the corporate entity that owns the corporate being that has shares in the commercial organization that leases a particular parcel of land.

For Washington DC lobbying, we have disclosures.house.gov or Senate/LDA_reports
on the search term “Client name”=”Autodesk”.

The whole lobby disclosure thing (like most legal things) is badly formatted data. It seems that Mr David Crane claims at least $0.5Million/year on Autodesk expenses for various activities. Here is one such activity, disclosed on 2012-01-19:

[Now, I would have dearly loved to have used the Sunlight Foundation’s Influence Explorer, specifically their page of data for Autodesk, but they seemed to have merged all the disclosures together, done a regular expression for (S|HR)[s.]*([0-9]+) to obtain the list of Bills, and thrown away the rest of the information without even bothering to provide links to the source pages so that I could recover it. Idiots! I am going to have a rant about this later, but not right now.]

Let’s check those two bills out, starting with S.1816:

SECTION 1. MINIMUM PENALTIES FOR REPEAT OFFENDERS FOR DRIVING WHILE INTOXICATED OR DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE.

Hmm. Some mistake here. Let’s have a look at H.R.2089:

H.R. 2089: Technology Helps Revamp, Evaluate, and Expedite Designs [THREE-D] Act of 2011

With respect to transportation projects that receive Federal funding, the Secretary of Transportation shall identify and encourage the use of advanced technologies, including 3-dimensional modeling and simulation software, during environmental, planning, financial management, design, simulation, and construction processes related to the projects.

The Secretary shall… serve as a clearinghouse for States with respect to best practices relating to the use of advanced technologies.

A project management plan… shall include an analysis and documentation of the use of advanced technologies, including 3-dimensional modeling and simulation software.

The Secretary of Transportation is authorized to develop and implement incentives to accelerate the use of advanced technologies… [and] shall develop and publish on the Internet Web site of the Department of Transportation a detailed and comprehensive plan…

Introduced 2011-06-02 by Rep. Frank Guinta [R-NH1]

Bingo! I’ll bet that ridiculous THREE-D acronym cost fifty grand right there.

The old Sunlight Foundation related OpenCongress website doesn’t list any supporters for HR2089 (although it lists over 70 supporters of S515 patent reform with no apparent source), so it’s probably not scraping this lobbyist data. Who can tell, if none of these webpages ever link to the goddamn sources? However, on pagenation 7 of news_blogs for the bill I was able to salvage a broken link to a url that lead to the National Electrical Contractors Association and an undated press release:

“The bill recognized the opportunity for BIM to improve results in the delivery of projects, delivering higher quality, and enhancing the efficiency of the process,” said Lake Coulson, NECA executive director, government affairs. “We’re pleased that Rep. Guinta recognizes the advantages BIM offers contractors and end-users, and we would encourage him to consider similar legislation with respect to other federally-funded building construction projects.”

Increased use of three-dimensional modeling and simulation software on construction projects has improved the project-delivery process by decreasing the need for change orders, compressing time tables and improving overall efficiency.

According to the prognosis on the Sunlight Foundation independent of, but sort of related Govtrack.us:

This bill has a 4% chance of being enacted.

What a waste of time, I thought. It’s not like it was even very ambitious or interesting, or seeming to require a change in the law anyway.

But wait, what’s this on Frank Guinta’s website?

Introduced H.R. 2089, the Technology Helps Revamp Evaluate and Expedite Designs Act of 2011, or Three-D Act

Three-dimensional modeling improves highway safety by replicating the exact location of the highway in a model to analyze and adjust sight lines and design the highway to eliminate dangerous curves or obstructed views.

It expedites environmental review by capturing critical environmental data (i.e. wetlands, endangered species and utilities in the model, for instantaneous consideration of alternatives earlier in the planning process).

It significantly improves design accuracy and allows precise execution in construction through automated machine guidance. Using the 3-D computer program to guide earthmoving and paving equipment will help reduce time and costly errors.

This was included in the final version of H.R. 7

Now, that’s a little more than what it said in the Bill, but he’s a politician and is liable to oversell his successes.

Did I say success?

Guinta writes:

Voted for H.R. 7, the American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act

As a Member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee specifically the Highways and Transit Subcommittee that helped author this legislation, I am proud to report it follows through on this Congress’s pledge to fundamentally reform how Washington works. This bill… Consolidates or eliminates nearly 70 federal programs…

Passed the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on February 3, 2012.

Hm. Let’s see how that Bill shows up on www.opencongress.org/bill/112-h7:

H.R.7 – Sportfishing and Recreational Boating Safety Act of 2012

Some mistake, surely.

Try view all titles (13):

All Bill Titles

Short: Sportfishing and Recreational Boating Safety Act of 2012 as introduced.
Short: Surface Transportation Extension Act of 2012 as introduced.
Short: American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act of 2012 as introduced.
Short: Hazardous Material Transportation Safety, Efficiency, and Accountability Act of 2012 as introduced.
Short: Motor Carrier Safety, Efficiency, and Accountability Act of 2012 as introduced.
Short: Public Transportation Act of 2012 as introduced.
Official: To authorize funds for Federal-aid highway, public transportation, and highway and motor carrier safety programs, and for other purposes. as introduced.
Short: American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act of 2012 as reported to house.
Short: Hazardous Material Transportation Safety, Efficiency, and Accountability Act of 2012 as reported to house.
Short: Motor Carrier Safety, Efficiency, and Accountability Act of 2012 as reported to house.
Short: Public Transportation Act of 2012 as reported to house.
Short: Sportfishing and Recreational Boating Safety Act of 2012 as reported to house.
Short: Surface Transportation Extension Act of 2012 as reported to house.

What a pile of crap!

Govtrack.us/112/hr7 is not a lot better. Let’s go to the source on thomas.loc.gov?d112:hr7: to find that we’re talking 832 pages here. It was introduced on 2012-01-31 and passed the Transport Committee (with amendments) on 2012-02-13. And in among all this, there it is:

Section 106 is amended by adding at the end the following:
`(j) Use of Advanced Modeling Technologies-

(1) IN GENERAL- With respect to transportation projects that receive Federal funding, the Secretary shall encourage the use of advanced modeling technologies during environmental, planning, financial management, design, simulation, and construction processes related to the projects.
(2) ACTIVITIES- In carrying out paragraph (1), the Secretary shall–
(A) compile information relating to advanced modeling technologies, including industry best practices with respect to the use of the technologies;
(B) disseminate to States information relating to advanced modeling technologies, including industry best practices with respect to the use of the technologies; and
(C) promote the use of advanced modeling technologies.
(3) COMPREHENSIVE PLAN- The Secretary shall develop and publish on the Internet Web site of the Department of Transportation a detailed and comprehensive plan for the implementation of paragraph (1).
(4) ADVANCED MODELING TECHNOLOGY DEFINED- The term `advanced modeling technology’ means an available or developing technology, including 3-dimensional digital modeling, that can accelerate and improve the environmental review process, increase effective public participation, enhance the detail and accuracy of project designs, increase safety, accelerate construction and reduce construction costs, or otherwise expedite project delivery with respect to transportation projects that receive Federal funding.

It would appear to me that this consolidation was overlooked by the Library of Congress, and all of Joshua Tauberer’s and Sunlight Foundation’s fancy schmancy databases of legislative text that seemingly they can’t be bothered to have run a plagiarism tool through. Had I not spotted that obscure press release of one congressman in New Hampshire, I would have reported that Autodesk’s attempt at crafting US legislation had been a total failure, as opposed to nearly successful.

And we may see that it will get there in the next legislative cycle, now that I know what to look for.

This particular case of corporate law-making does appear fairly benign, but it isn’t usually. Who is out there tracking this stuff at all? And shouldn’t those who are running a company disclose on the company website what they are paying lobbyists for if they are proud of it? What would it be like if people cared and had high expectations?

1 Comment

  • 1. Greg H. replies at 12th November 2012, 8:26 pm :

    Julian,
    Your determination to get to the bottom of this mess is amazing. No wonder
    you write algorythms for machining kernels.

    Greg

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