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GAO Reviews Air Force Report on GPS Acquisition
(Oct 21) On October 17, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released its assessment of the Air Force's first quarterly report on GPS acquisition. The FY 2016 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) requires the Air Force to provide quarterly reports to GAO on GPS acquisition programs. It further directs GAO to brief the congressional defense committees on the Air Force's initial report. GAO found that the first Air Force report lacked key information needed to track the quarterly progress of GPS III, OCX, and military user equipment. GAO also made recommendations for improving the transparency and effectiveness of future quarterly reports.
DoD Certifies GPS OCX Program to Congress
(Oct 14) On October 13, Under Secretary of Defense Frank Kendall sent Congress the certification required by law to avoid termination of the GPS Next Generation Operational Control System (OCX) program. The Air Force had declared a critical Nunn-McCurdy breach (cost overrun) in the OCX budget on June 30, triggering a mandatory process to either cancel or restructure the program. The OCX system will command all modernized and legacy GPS satellites, manage all civil and military navigation signals, and provide improved cybersecurity and resilience for the next generation of GPS operations. The alternatives to certifying the program included several options, including program termination, but this was deemed simply unworkable, due to the extended time it would require to design and field a new ground system for the vital GPS III network.
House Passes Legislation on "Backup Global Positioning System"
(Sep 28) On September 26, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 5978, which includes language promoting the need for a complement to and backup for GPS.
Senate Hearing Includes Discussion of GPS Alternatives
(Sep 15) During a September 15 hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) asked what was being done in relation to celestial navigation training and what was being done to remove dependency from electronic devices. Navy Admiral John Richardson responded, "with respect to minimizing our vulnerability to electronic navigation — Global Positioning Systems and those sorts of systems — really a multifaceted approach. We have started teaching celestial navigation, and so those types of courses are back in the curriculum at the Naval Academy and other places.... there are other ways to get precision navigation and timing into our systems, which is so critical not only for navigation, but also for weapon systems performance and everything across the board. And so that's an area of emphasis as well, and these would be systems that would be independent of GPS and potentially more precise than GPS."
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