Status of the NAVSTAR Global Positioning System

PSAD-77-23: Published: Mar 2, 1977. Publicly Released: Mar 2, 1977.

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The NAVSTAR Global Positioning System (GPS) is a space-based radio navigation system designed to provide users with worldwide three-dimensional position and velocity information. The system consists of three segments: (1) space satellites that transmit radio signals; (2) ground-based monitoring equipment; and (3) user equipment for a variety of service applications. Initial operational capability is planned for 1983.

Performance requirements relating to specific user needs have not been established. As with most development programs, technical development problems have developed; not all solutions to these problems have been tested. Development problems with user equipment and satellites caused a schedule delay of almost a year, but by compressing the testing from 22 to 14 months, officials expect to limit schedule slippage to 2 or 3 months. This revised test schedule provides no leeway for unforeseeable problems. Estimated cost for the initial phase of the program has increased significantly because of additions to support a Navy program. The total report cost is over $1.3 billion; this amount does not include the cost for user equipment or replenishment satellites. GAO believes that the total program will cost in excess of $3 billion.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

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

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should: (1) review GPS to determine operational system performance required by users; (2) establish testing criteria for evaluating the adequacy of GPS development progress; and (3) assess the time allotted for the phase I test program. He should explore alternatives to the planned solicitation of contractor proposals before testing and determine the total cost for GPS development and related activities.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense


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