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    Subject Term: "Communication satellites"

    4 publications with a total of 7 open recommendations
    Director: Cristina Chaplain
    Phone: (202) 512-4841

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: In order to improve DOD's procurement of SATCOM, to address DOD's fragmented procurement of commercial SATCOM, to better position DOD to identify needs, manage and acquire commercial SATCOM, and to address the incomplete data on commercial SATCOM spending and demand, the Secretary of Defense, in coordination with the Joint Chiefs, U.S. Strategic Command, combatant commands, military services, and DISA, should enforce current policy requiring DISA to acquire all commercial SATCOM for DOD.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD has reiterated, but not yet enforced, its policy requiring the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) to procure all commercial satellite communications (SATCOM). DOD published Instruction 8420.02, titled DOD Satellite Communications (SATCOM), in September 2016. This instruction prescribes the actions DOD component heads should follow in requesting commercial SATCOM capability through DISA, as required by the 2013 Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Instruction (CJCSI) 6250.01E, "Satellite Communications". It also outlines methods by which DISA can obtain and the DOD Chief Information Officer can analyze data that could inform commercial SATCOM resource usage, allocation, and requirements. While establishing a new policy to emphasize and assign SATCOM procurement responsibilities is a step in the right direction, policy requiring that DISA acquire all commercial SATCOM for DOD already existed at the time of GAO's report. Further, DOD Commercial Satellite Communications (COMSATCOM) users may still be out of compliance with the CJCSI, according to an October 2016 U.S. Strategic Command report on COMSATCOM usage which states that "DoD COMSATCOM users should compete their services through DISA, as outlined in CJCSI 6250.01E, as soon as practicable."
    Recommendation: In order to improve DOD's procurement of SATCOM, to better leverage DOD's buying power and help DOD understand its military and commercial SATCOM spending, and enable DOD to reform its commercial SATCOM acquisition and management processes, the Secretary of Defense, in conjunction with the Air Force and DISA, should complement the pathfinder efforts by conducting an assessment of whether further centralization of military and commercial SATCOM procurement, such as the identification of a single focal point within DOD to decide how to meet the overall demand or a central procurement knowledge focal point, could further save money and improve performance.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: Although we reported in 2016 that the Joint Requirements Oversight Council approved a commercial satellite communications "Centralized Management Concept of Operations, which intends to implement a three-phased approach to centralize management of military and commercial wideband SATCOM," we have yet to obtain a copy of the Concept of Operations and assess the extent to which DOD conducted an assessment of whether further centralization of commercial and military procurement of satellite communications would save money and improve performance.
    Director: Dave Powner
    Phone: (202) 512-9286

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To address risks in the GOES-R program development and to help ensure that the satellite is launched on time, the Secretary of Commerce should direct the NOAA Administrator to address shortfalls in defect management identified in this report, including the lack of clear guidance on defect definitions, what defect metrics should be collected and reported, and how to establish a defect's priority or severity.

    Agency: Department of Commerce
    Status: Open

    Comments: NOAA agreed with this recommendation. The agency subsequently reported that contractors are required to report defects and that the agency can place a hold or put liens against contractors if defects are not addressed. NOAA also provided documentation to support its recurring meetings at which defects are addressed. Additionally, NOAA provided documentation on its defect reporting requirements and definitions. However, NOAA did not provide documentation showing what defect metrics should be collected and reported, and how to establish a defect's priority or severity. We will continue to monitor the agency's actions on this recommendation.
    Director: Cristina Chaplain
    Phone: (202) 512-4841

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: Before making decisions on whether to disaggregate DOD's protected satellite communications, SBIRS, or environmental monitoring satellite systems, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics to develop common measures for resilience.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD has not yet developed common measures for resilience, but has stated standard metrics are under development. Results from a recent study by the National Security Space Enterprise Vision Tiger Team are expected to develop resilience requirements and options for attaining resiliency. DOD plans to use the Space Based Infrared System Follow-on as a test case for describing resilience as a system requirement. The Air Force approved a draft capability development document in February 2017, and a full capability development document is under development. In addition, DOD has identified mission assurance and resiliency as priorities for the next Space Strategic Portfolio Review. GAO's ongoing review of hosted payloads, to be conducted over the next year, will likely review issues related to this area.
    Recommendation: Before making decisions on whether to disaggregate DOD's protected satellite communications, SBIRS, or environmental monitoring satellite systems, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics to expand demonstration efforts to examine the operational feasibility of disaggregation by empirically quantifying its benefits and limitations as well as addressing longstanding barriers that could hinder its implementation.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD has not yet empirically quantified the benefits and limitations of disaggregation, or addressed longstanding barriers that could hinder its implementation, through a demonstration of operational feasibility. However, DOD stated it has considered the disaggregation of certain capabilities in previous war games, and lessons learned will be carried forward into future war games. For example, the most recent war games focused on ways to increase space system resilience by expanding and integrating international and private sector capabilities, and increasing the number of sensors and associated coverage.
    Recommendation: Before making decisions on whether to disaggregate DOD's protected satellite communications, Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS), or environmental monitoring satellite systems, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics to comprehensively examine--either through the Analysis of Alternatives studies or through other assessments--the full range of disaggregation issues, including those that go beyond the satellite systems themselves.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD has made progress toward assessing disaggregation through its analysis of alternatives (AOA) efforts for individual satellite programs within three areas: protected satellite communications services (PSCS), space-based environmental monitoring (SBEM), and the Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS). However, DOD has not yet completed a comprehensive examination of the full range of disaggregation issues. DOD completed the SBEM AOA in October 2013, the SBIRS Follow-on AOA in December 2015, and the PSCS AOA in February 2016. These AOAs each included cost, capability, and risk analyses for aggregated and disaggregated alternatives, though each did not assess the full range of disaggregation issues for the subject area. For example, the SBEM AOA evaluated options including placing sensors on host satellites, placing satellites in different orbits, and relying on international and U.S. civil partners to provide some capabilities, but it focused on the space segment and did not analyze alternative ground segment components. The AOA team determined impacts to the ground segment would need to be assessed more thoroughly once DOD decided on a solution. In October 2016, the Air Force approved an acquisition strategy for the planned solution, called the Weather System Follow-on - Microwave. The program has not yet assessed ground segment impacts, but the Air Force stated it will be assessed further once a contract is awarded. For the PSCS and SBIRS areas, the Air Force conducted subsequent studies on resiliency in 2016, which evaluated the benefits of resiliency in future architectures for satellite communications missions and informed resilience requirements for the SBIRS Follow-on. GAO has ongoing work in these areas and plans to complete reviews of the AOAs in the fall of 2017 and a hosted payload review in the next year.
    Director: Goldstein, Mark L
    Phone: (202) 512-2834

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To provide clarity on how sponsorship identification requirements apply to activities not directly addressed by FCC's current guidance, such as the use of video news releases, and to update its guidance to reflect current technologies and recent FCC decisions about video news releases, the Chairman of the FCC should initiate a process to update its sponsorship identification guidance and consider providing additional examples relevant to more modern practices.

    Agency: Federal Communications Commission
    Status: Open

    Comments: In August 2017, GAO contacted FCC for an update on this status of this recommendation, but received no information from the agency.