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The National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS)--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)--is considered critical to the United States' ability to maintain the continuity of data required for weather forecasting (including severe weather events such as hurricanes) and global climate monitoring. Since its inception, NPOESS has experienced escalating costs, schedule delays, and technical difficulties. As the often-delayed launch of its demonstration satellite (called the NPOESS Preparatory Project--NPP) draws closer, these problems continue. GAO was asked to summarize its report being released today that (1) identifies the status and risks of key program components, (2) assesses the NPOESS Executive Committee's ability to fulfill its responsibilities, and (3) evaluates efforts to identify an alternative system integrator for later NPOESS satellites.

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