Global Positioning System: Observations on Quarterly Reports from the Air Force   [open pdf - 245KB]

From the GAO website: "The satellite-based GPS [Global Positioning System] provides positioning, navigation, and timing data to users worldwide. GPS is an essential U.S. national security asset and a key component of economic growth, national infrastructure, and transportation safety. For nearly 9 years, the Air Force has been in the process of modernizing all three GPS segments to enhance performance and security. This effort is divided into three major programs to modernize the segments: GPS III, OCX [Operational Control System], and MGUE [Military GPS User Equipment]. The warfighter needs all three modernization programs successfully developed and deployed in order to benefit from the M-code signal and increased cybersecurity. As GAO [Government Accountability Office] reported in 2015, OCX software development has experienced significant cost growth and schedule delays in the past few years that have subsequently delayed the implementation of M-code and cybersecurity for the military. To mitigate multi-year delays developing OCX and to maintain the current constellation above the minimum of 24 satellites, the Air Force created a fourth program called COps [Contingency Operations], which according to the Air Force will modify the current GPS ground system to operate the GPS III satellites at a reduced level of functionality until the first block of OCX is deployed. The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016 contained a provision that the Air Force provide quarterly reports to GAO on the next generation GPS acquisition programs. The Act also contained a provision that GAO brief congressional defense committees on the first report and at GAO's discretion for subsequent quarterly reports. The Air Force delivered the first quarterly report to GAO on April 22, 2016. GAO assessed the report and briefed congressional committees in June 2016. This report conveys information presented during that briefing on (1) the extent to which the Air Force's report provided transparent information on the GPS acquisition program's quarterly progress, risks, and short-term acquisition plans; and (2) observations for improving future Air Force quarterly reports on GPS. To conduct this work, GAO analyzed the Air Force's report and assessed it using federal internal control standards, Office of Management and Budget guidance, and prior GAO work regarding the appropriate content to include in such a quarterly report."

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