GAO: AF GPS Study Good Start, But More Work Needed for Investment Decisions

GAO: AF GPS Study Good Start, But More Work Needed for Investment Decisions

A recent Air Force study on alternatives to lower the cost of the Global Positioning System (GPS) is a good start, but is not sufficient to guide decisions on future investment decisions according to a new Government Accountability Office (GAO) report.

The House Armed Services Committee (HASC) directed the Air Force to conduct an assessment of how to lower the cost of the GPS system as plans are being made to modernize it.  HASC also directed GAO to review the Air Force report, a task it fulfilled in today’s report.

GAO’s fundamental conclusion is that although the Air Force did a good job, especially considering time constraints, in weighing nine alternatives for the GPS space segment, it did not address the ground control segment or user equipment.   GAO is also concerned that the Air Force assessment assumed a constellation of 30 satellites rather than the baseline 24, and some cost drivers were not taken into account.  Furthermore, GAO noted that the Air Force did not get input from stakeholders in the GPS positioning, navigation and timing advisory community.  “Consequently, without conducting a more comprehensive assessment that addresses each of these concerns, the Air Force is not yet in a position to make sound future investment decisions.”

GAO recommended that the Air Force:

  • “affirm the future size of the GPS constellation it plans to support,”
  • include all three segments — space, ground control, and user equipment — in future assessments, and
  • obtain input from the broad stakeholder community.

It adds that the Air Force concurred in all three recommendations.  The report is available on GAO’s website.

The Air Force’s report to HASC, “Lower Cost Solutions for Providing Global Positioning System Capability,” does not appear to be posted on the Internet yet.

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