Polar-Orbiting Environmental Satellites: Changing Requirements, Technical Issues, and Looming Data Gaps Require Focused Attention
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Why GAO Did This Study. Environmental satellites provide critical data used in forecasting weather and measuring variations in climate over time. NPOESSa program managed by NOAA, DOD, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administrationwas planned to replace two existing polar-orbiting environmental satellite systems. However, 8 years after a development contract for the NPOESS program was awarded in 2002, the cost estimate had more than doubledto about 15 billion, launch dates had been delayed by over 5 years, significant functionality had been removed from the program, and the programs tri-agency management structure had proven to be ineffective. In February 2010, a presidential task force decided to disband NPOESS and, instead, to have NOAA and DOD undertake separate acquisitions. GAO was asked to evaluate 1 efforts to transfer responsibilities from the NPOESS program to the separate NOAA and DOD programs, 2 NOAAs progress in developing its satellite system, and 3 NOAAs efforts to mitigate key project risks. To do so, GAO analyzed program management, contract, cost, and risk data, attended executive program reviews, and interviewed agency and contractor officials.
- Unmanned Spacecraft
- Economics and Cost Analysis