Weather Satellite Costs Have Increased:

Problems Have Occurred in Their Manufacturing Quality Control

RCED-86-28: Published: Oct 31, 1985. Publicly Released: Nov 20, 1985.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) policies and practices for planning and procuring its weather satellites, including quality assurance practices and the reasons for the increasing weather satellite costs.

GAO found that two problems occurred in the quality control of weather satellite manufacturing: (1) both polar orbiting and geostationary satellites were built with unapproved parts; and (2) the number of quality control personnel needed to ensure reliable production were not provided at some of the plants. GAO also found that, allowing for inflation, the average cost of a satellite and launch increased 117 percent, because: (1) the contractors could not purchase the parts in economical quantities; (2) the cost of some satellite equipment escalated faster than aerospace inflation; and (3) there were additional costs for launch vehicle testing and the user fees associated with maintaining launch readiness capability.

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