Our nation's current operational polar-orbiting environmental satellite program is a complex infrastructure that includes two satellite systems, supporting ground stations, and four central data processing centers. In the future, the National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS) is to combine the two current satellite systems into a single state-of-the-art environment monitoring satellite system. This new satellite system is considered critical to the United States' ability to maintain the continuity of data required for weather forecasting and global climate monitoring through the year 2020. Because of changes in funding levels after the contract was awarded, the program office recently developed a new cost and schedule baseline for NPOESS. GAO was asked to provide an interim update to (1) identify any cost or schedule changes as a result of the revised baseline and determine what contributed to these changes and (2) identify factors that could affect the program baseline in the future. In commenting on a draft of this report, DOD, NOAA, and NASA officials generally agreed with the report and offered technical corrections, which we incorporated where appropriate.
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