In talking with a mobile laser scanning service provider today he recommended that the departments of transportation in the US adopt the same approach with MLS as they did with photogrammetry over the past 30+ years. Namely, that they leave the data acquisition to the service providers and focus internally on data processing and management.
Given the rate of change in technology and the size of the investment this would seem to be a reasonable approach, but without knowing the facts in each DOT it is probably not wise to prejudge. I would think that if the DOTs could be assured of the availability of in-state service provider, or at least one nearby then they might look at the situation differently.
I was told by one savvy survey company owner a few months back that he did not see how the national MLS service provider model was going to survive. It certainly would seem to be inefficient to drive a thousand miles just to collect a few days data, but we live in a free country, thankfully, so we will have to see how it all shakes out.