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Satellite Control Systems: Opportunity for DOD to Implement Space Policy and Integrate Capabilities

NSIAD-99-81 Published: May 17, 1999. Publicly Released: May 17, 1999.
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO: (1) reviewed the Department of Defense's (DOD) progress in integrating and improving its satellite control capabilities and in fostering integrated and interoperable satellite control within the government, as directed by the 1996 national space policy; and (2) determined whether opportunities exist for DOD to standardize its satellite control capabilities by using commercial products and practices.


Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Defense The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretaries of the Air Force and the Navy to: (1) consolidate their plans to replace existing Air Force and Navy satellite control capabilities; and (2) consider using commercial off-the-shelf satellite control products and best commercial practices in making a selection among alternative systems to satisfy core satellite control requirements, thus limiting the need for unique capabilities.
Closed – Implemented
DOD has been actively pursuing COTS solutions for satellite control since July 1999. For example, the integrated satellite control system planned for military satellite communications utilizes COTS Integrated Systems. Also, the Space and Telemetery Missile Systems Center Test and Evaluation Directorate employs an open architecture.
Department of Defense In consonance with the development of DOD's plans to replace its satellite control capabilities, the Secretary of Defense should take the lead in ensuring that the National Security Space Senior Steering Group serves as the forum for fostering and overseeing the integration and interoperability of satellite control for all government space activities in accordance with 1996 national space policy guidelines.
Closed – Implemented
DOD agreed with the recommendation by stating that significant actions have already been undertaken (1999) by implementing revised procedures for management of national security (defense and intelligence) space programs and activities, as directed by a Presidential Decision Directive, including the establishment of a National Security Space Senior Steering Group. This Group, according to DOD, appears to be the forum to accomplish GAO's recommendation because all national security and civil agencies are to be invited as members in the Group's deliberations.
Department of Defense The Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Technology; the Under Secretary of Defense (Controller/Chief Financial Officer); and the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Command, Control, Communications, and Intelligence to only consider funding requests for such replacement efforts that make maximum use of commercial products and practices to achieve integrated satellite control capabilities within DOD.
Closed – Not Implemented
In July 1999, DOD stated that there are a number of high quality products to fly satellites that have been demonstrated, and are being used to fly R&D and non-operational defense satellite communications system and Defense support program satellites. DOD is committed to using commercial vendors.

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