Weather Satellites:

Cost Growth and Development Delays Jeopardize U.S. Forecasting Ability

NSIAD-89-169: Published: Jun 30, 1989. Publicly Released: Jun 30, 1989.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) cooperative arrangement for the development and procurement of the next series of geostationary operational environmental satellites (GOES), focusing on the: (1) award of the prime contract and its principal subcontract; (2) current cost and schedule status of the contract; and (3) two agencies' coordination and contract oversight.

GAO found that: (1) throughout the contract award process for new GOES, NASA followed the required procedures associated with determining the contracting method, establishing and applying source selection criteria, and disseminating proposal and contract information; (2) estimated contract costs increased from $294 million in 1984 and $725 million in March 1989, but the total cost, including launch services, would exceed $1 billion; (3) NASA delayed the GOES launch date from July 1989 to at least late 1990; (4) the GOES system includes two satellites, but only one satellite currently operates, jeopardizing U.S. ability to provide real-time early warning and to continuously track potentially destructive storms; (5) NOAA does not have direct contract management authority, but participates with NASA in all program and status reviews; (6) NASA has increased its contract oversight efforts; and (7) NASA and NOAA have adequately coordinated the program since its inception.

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