DOT Should Terminate Further LORAN-C Development and Modernization and Exploit the Potential of the NAVSTAR/Global Positioning System

MASAD-81-42: Published: Sep 18, 1981. Publicly Released: Sep 18, 1981.

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GAO performed a follow-up review of a previous report which concluded that the Department of Defense's satellite-based NAVSTAR/Global Positioning System (GPS) could be a national asset and could replace many existing navigation systems at substantial savings. The report considered these systems, including the Department of Transportation's (DOT) LORAN-C system, to be unneeded by the early 1990's and cautioned against further investment in LORAN-C. It also recommended that the Secretary of Transportation become more involved in the GPS program to ensure the timely availability of low-cost civil receivers.

DOT has continued to develop, expand, and improve navigation systems which GPS could replace. Further, DOT has devoted little effort to evaluating the GPS capability as a marine and land navigation system and has not initiated a program to develop and demonstrate the technology necessary to ensure the availability of low-cost receivers for marine and land users. More specifically, GAO found that the Coast Guard: (1) plans to make a recommendation in 1982 to the Secretary of Transportation which should clarify the future role of GPS versus LORAN-C without adequately developing the technology necessary to ensure the availability of low-cost GPS receivers that are essential to effect widespread acceptance of GPS by the civil marine community; (2) plans to continue operating LORAN-C until at least the year 2000 although GPS is scheduled to provide coverage equivalent to LORAN-C as early as 1986; and (3) plans to spend at least $25 million to replace certain existing LORAN-C transmitters without adequately demonstrating either the need for or the cost effectiveness of the replacement.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of DOT should direct the Coast Guard to discontinue developing and demonstrating new and additional LORAN-C marine applications which GPS has the potential to satisfy and focus efforts and resources on developing and demonstrating the GPS potential as a marine navigation system, especially the low-cost GPS user equipment technology essential to civil acceptance and use of GPS.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

  2. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: THe Secretary of DOT should direct the Coast Guard to develop a tentative timetable to phase out LORAN-C by the early 1990's and, if the DOT preliminary decision in 1983 supports GPS, inform the public at that time of this tentative timetable so as to allow users to make informed decisions on replacing current LORAN-C receivers.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

  3. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of DOT should direct the Coast Guard to terminate its planned replacement of certain existing LORAN-C vacuum-tube transmitters with new solid-state transmitters unless the Coast Guard can validly demonstrate on a station-by-station basis that this upgrade will be cost effective by the early 1990's.

    Agency Affected: Department of Transportation

 

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