Environmental Satellites: Polar-orbiting Satellite Acquisition Faces Delays; Decisions Needed on Whether and How to Ensure Climate Data Continuity

GAO-08-899T Published: Jun 19, 2008. Publicly Released: Jun 19, 2008.
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The National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS) is a tri-agency acquisition--managed by the Department of Commerce's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Department of Defense (DOD), and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)--which has experienced escalating costs, schedule delays, and technical difficulties. These factors led to a June 2006 decision to restructure the program thereby decreasing its complexity, increasing its estimated cost to $12.5 billion, and delaying the first two satellites by 3 to 5 years. GAO was asked to summarize a report being released today that evaluates progress in restructuring the acquisition, assesses the status of key program components and risks, and assesses the agencies' plans for obtaining the data originally planned to be collected by NPOESS sensors, but eliminated by the restructuring.

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