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United States Government Accountability Office: 


Before the Subcommittees on Investigations and Oversight and Energy 
and Environment, Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, House of 

For Release on Delivery: 
Expected at 10:00 a.m. EDT:
Friday, September 23, 2011: 

Polar Satellites: 

Agencies Need to Address Potential Gaps in Weather and Climate Data 

Statement of David A. Powner, Director:
Information Technology Management Issues: 


GAO Highlights: 

Highlights of GAO-11-954T, a testimony before the Subcommittees on 
Oversight and Investigations and Energy and Environment, Committee on 
Science, Space, and Technology, House of Representatives. 

Why GAO Did This Study: 

Environmental satellites provide critical data used in weather 
forecasting and measuring variations in climate over time. In February 
2010, the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy 
disbanded the National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental 
Satellite System (NPOESS)-—a tri-agency satellite acquisition that had 
encountered continuing cost, schedule, and management problems-—and 
instructed the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) 
and the Department of Defense (DOD) to undertake separate 
acquisitions. Both agencies have begun planning their respective 
programs—-the Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS) and the Defense 
Weather Satellite System (DWSS)—-including creating program offices 
and transitioning contracts. 

GAO was asked to summarize the status of ongoing work assessing (1) 
NOAA’s and DOD’s plans for their separate acquisitions and (2) the key 
risks in transitioning from NPOESS to these new programs. In preparing 
this statement, GAO relied on the work supporting previous reports, 
attended monthly program management meetings, reviewed documentation 
on both programs, and interviewed agency officials. 

What GAO Found: 

In May 2010, GAO reported on the transition from NPOESS to two 
separate programs, and recommended that both NOAA and DOD expedite 
decisions on the cost, schedule, and capabilities of their respective 
programs. Since that time, both agencies have made progress on their 
programs, but neither has finalized its plans or fully implemented the 
recommendations. NOAA is currently focusing on the October 2011 launch 
of the NPOESS Preparatory Project satellite—a demonstration satellite 
that the agency now plans to use operationally in order to minimize 
potential gaps in coverage. In addition, NOAA has transferred 
contracts for satellite sensors from the NPOESS program to the JPSS 
program. However, NOAA officials stated that the agency slowed down 
the development of the first JPSS satellite due to budget constraints, 
causing a delay in the launch date. As a result, NOAA is facing a 
potential gap in satellite data continuity. Such a delay could 
significantly impact the nation’s ability to obtain advanced warning 
of extreme weather events such as hurricanes. 

Figure: Potential Gaps in Satellite Coverage: 

[Refer to PDF for image: illustration] 

Years noted are fiscal years: 

Satellite: NPOESS Preparatory Project; 
On-orbit check out: 2012-2013; 
Expected life: 2013-2017; 
Potential gap if NPP fails after 3 years: 2015-2017; 
Potential gap if JPSS-1 has further delays: 2017 and beyond. 

Satellite: First JPSS Satellite; 
On-orbit check out: 2017; 
Expected life: 2017-2024; 
Potential gap if NPP fails after 3 years: 2015-2017; 
Potential gap if JPSS-1 has further delays: 2017 and beyond. 

Source: GAO analysis of NOAA data. 

[End of figure] 

Meanwhile, DOD began planning for its satellite program. Department 
officials reported that DWSS is to consist of two satellites with 
three sensors: an imager, microwave imager/sounder, and a space 
environment sensor. The first satellite is to be launched no earlier 
than 2018. The department has not, however, finalized the cost, 
schedule, and functionality of the program. It expects to do so in 
early 2012. Until both NOAA and DOD develop and finalize credible 
plans for their respective programs, it will not be clear what the 
programs will deliver, when, and at what cost. 

In its prior report, GAO also recommended that NOAA and DOD establish 
plans to mitigate key risks in transitioning from NPOESS to the 
successor programs, including ensuring effective oversight of JPSS 
program management, and addressing cost and schedule implications from 
contract and program changes. Both agencies have taken steps to 
mitigate these risks, but more remains to be done. For example, NOAA 
could not provide firm time frames for completing its management 
control plan or addressing residual contracting issues. Moving 
forward, it will be important for the agencies to continue efforts to 
mitigate these risks in order to ensure the success of their 
respective programs. 

What GAO Recommends: 

GAO is not making new recommendations in this statement. 

View [hyperlink,] or key 
components. For more information, contact David A. Powner at (202) 512-
9286 or 

[End of section] 

Chairman Broun, Chairman Harris, Ranking Member Miller, Ranking Member 
Edwards, and Members of the Subcommittees: 

Thank you for the opportunity to participate in today's hearing on 
efforts to disband and replace the National Polar-orbiting Operational 
Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS). NPOESS was planned to be a 
state-of-the-art, environment-monitoring satellite system that would 
replace two existing polar-orbiting environmental satellite systems. 
Managed jointly by the Department of Commerce's National Oceanic and 
Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Department of Defense 
(DOD)/U.S. Air Force, and the National Aeronautics and Space 
Administration (NASA), the program was considered critical to the 
nation's weather forecasting and climate monitoring needs through the 
year 2026. However, to address continuing cost, schedule, management, 
and technical challenges, the White House's Office of Science and 
Technology Policy decided in February 2010 to disband the NPOESS 
acquisition and, instead, to have NOAA and DOD undertake separate 
acquisitions. As requested, this statement summarizes ongoing work we 
are doing for your full committee to assess the status of NOAA's and 
DOD's plans for separate acquisitions and key risks in transitioning 
from NPOESS to these new programs. 

In preparing this testimony, we relied on the work supporting our 
previous reports[Footnote 1] and on observations from our ongoing 
work. To obtain updated information, we attended NOAA's monthly 
program management council meetings, reviewed briefings for both 
programs, and interviewed officials from NOAA, NASA, and DOD. All of 
our work for the prior reports and this testimony was performed in 
accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards. 
Those standards require that we plan and perform the audit to obtain 
sufficient, appropriate evidence to provide a reasonable basis for our 
findings and conclusions based on our audit objectives. We believe 
that the evidence obtained provides a reasonable basis for our 
findings and conclusions based on our audit objectives. 


Since the 1960s, the United States has used satellites to observe the 
earth and its land, oceans, atmosphere, and space environments. 
Satellites provide a global perspective of the environment and allow 
observations in areas that may be otherwise unreachable or unsuitable 
for measurements. Used in combination with ground, sea, and airborne 
observing systems, satellites have become an indispensable part of 
measuring and forecasting weather and climate. For example, satellites 
provide the graphical images used to identify current weather 
patterns, as well as the data that go into numerical weather 
prediction models. These models are used to forecast weather 1 to 2 
weeks in advance and to issue warnings about severe weather, including 
the path and intensity of hurricanes. Satellite data are also used to 
warn infrastructure owners when increased solar activity is expected 
to affect key assets, including communication satellites or the 
electric power grid. When collected over time, satellite data can also 
be used to observe climate change--the trends and changes in the 
earth's climate. These data are used to monitor and project seasonal, 
annual, and decadal changes in the earth's temperature, vegetation 
coverage, and ozone coverage. 

The NPOESS Program: Inception, Challenges, and Divergence: 

Since the 1960s, the United States has operated two separate 
operational polar-orbiting meteorological satellite systems: the Polar-
orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite (POES) series, which is 
managed by NOAA, and the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program 
(DMSP), which is managed by the Air Force.[Footnote 2] Two operational 
DMSP satellites and one operational POES satellite are currently in 
orbit and are positioned so that they cross the equator in the early 
morning, midmorning, and early afternoon. In addition, the government 
relies on a European satellite, called the Meteorological Operational 
satellite, for data in the midmorning orbit.[Footnote 3] Together, 
they ensure that, for any region of the earth, the data provided to 
users are generally no more than 6 hours old. 

With the expectation that combining the POES and DMSP programs would 
reduce duplication and result in sizable cost savings, a May 1994 
Presidential Decision Directive required NOAA and DOD to converge the 
two satellite programs into a single satellite program--NPOESS--
capable of satisfying both civilian and military requirements. 
[Footnote 4] To manage this program, DOD, NOAA, and NASA formed a tri-
agency Integrated Program Office, with NOAA responsible for overall 
program management for the converged system and for satellite 
operations, the Air Force responsible for acquisition, and NASA 
responsible for facilitating the development and incorporation of new 
technologies into the converged system. 

When its primary contract was awarded in August 2002, NPOESS was 
estimated to cost about $7 billion through 2026 and was considered 
critical to the United States' ability to maintain the continuity of 
data required for weather forecasting and global climate monitoring. 
To reduce the risk involved in developing new technologies and to 
maintain climate data continuity, the program planned to launch a 
demonstration satellite, called the NPOESS Preparatory Project (NPP) 
in May 2006. NPP was to demonstrate selected instruments that would 
later be included on the NPOESS satellites. The first NPOESS satellite 
was to be available for launch in March 2008. 

However, in the years after the program was initiated, NPOESS 
encountered significant technical challenges in sensor development, 
program cost growth, and schedule delays. By November 2005, we 
estimated that the program's cost had grown to $10 billion, and the 
schedule for the first launch was delayed by almost 2 years. These 
issues led to a 2006 restructuring of the program, which reduced the 
program's functionality by decreasing the number of planned 
satellites, orbits, and instruments. The restructuring also led agency 
executives to decide to mitigate potential data gaps by using NPP as 
an operational satellite.[Footnote 5] Even after the restructuring, 
however, the program continued to encounter technical issues in 
developing two sensors, significant tri-agency management challenges, 
schedule delays, and further cost increases. To help address these 
issues, in recent years we have made a series of recommendations to, 
among other things, improve executive-level oversight and develop 
realistic time frames for revising cost and schedule baselines. 
[Footnote 6] 

Faced with costs that were expected to exceed $14 billion and launch 
schedules that were delayed by over 5 years, in August 2009, the 
Executive Office of the President formed a task force, led by the 
Office of Science and Technology Policy, to investigate the management 
and acquisition options that would improve the NPOESS program. As a 
result of this review, the Director of the Office of Science and 
Technology Policy announced in February 2010 that NOAA and DOD would 
no longer jointly procure the NPOESS satellite system; instead, each 
agency would plan and acquire its own satellite system.[Footnote 7] 
Specifically, NOAA is responsible for the afternoon orbit and the 
observations planned for the first and third NPOESS satellites. DOD is 
responsible for the early-morning orbit and the observations planned 
for the second and fourth NPOESS satellites. The partnership with the 
European satellite agencies for the midmorning orbit is to continue as 

Prior GAO Work Evaluated Preliminary Plans for Separate NOAA and DOD 
Satellite Programs and Recommended Actions to Solidify Plans and 
Address Risks: 

In May 2010, we reported on NOAA's and DOD's preliminary plans for 
initiating new environmental satellite programs and highlighted key 
transition risks facing the agencies.[Footnote 8] At that time, NOAA 
had developed preliminary plans for its new satellite acquisition 
program--called the Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS). Specifically, 
NOAA planned to acquire two satellites (called JPSS-1 and JPSS-2) for 
launch in 2015 and 2018.[Footnote 9] NOAA also planned technical 
changes to the satellites, including using a smaller spacecraft than 
the one planned for NPOESS and removing sensors that were planned for 
the NPOESS satellites in the afternoon orbit.[Footnote 10] 

In addition, NOAA planned to transfer the management of the satellite 
acquisition from the NPOESS program office to NASA's Goddard Space 
Flight Center so that it could be co-located at a space system 
acquisition center, as advocated by an independent review team. NOAA 
developed a team to lead the transition from NPOESS to JPSS and 
planned to begin transitioning in July 2010 and complete a transition 
plan--including cost and schedule estimates--by the end of September 
2010. NOAA estimated that the JPSS program would cost approximately 
$11.9 billion to complete through 2024.[Footnote 11] It also 
anticipated funding of about $1 billion in fiscal year 2011 to set up 
the new program office and handle the costs associated with 
transitioning contracts from the Air Force to NASA while continuing to 
develop NPP and the first JPSS satellite. 

DOD was at an earlier stage in its planning process at the time of our 
June 2010 testimony, in part because it had more time before the first 
satellite in the morning orbit was needed. DOD officials were 
developing plans--including costs, schedules, and functionality--for 
their new program, called the Defense Weather Satellite System (DWSS). 
At that time, DOD expected to make final decisions on the spacecraft, 
sensors, procurement strategy, and staffing in August 2010, and to 
begin the program immediately. 

In our report, we noted that both agencies faced key risks in 
transitioning from NPOESS to their separate programs. These risks 
included the loss of key staff and capabilities, delays in negotiating 
contract changes and establishing new program offices, the loss of 
support for the other agency's requirements, and insufficient 
oversight of new program management. We reported that until these 
risks were effectively mitigated, it was likely that the satellite 
programs' costs would continue to grow and launch dates would continue 
to be delayed. We also noted that further delays could lead to gaps in 
the continuity of critical satellite data. 

We made recommendations to ensure that the transition from NPOESS to 
its successor programs was efficiently and effectively managed. Among 
other things, we recommended that the Secretaries of Defense and 
Commerce direct their respective NPOESS follow-on programs to expedite 
decisions on the expected cost, schedule, and capabilities of their 
planned programs and to direct their respective follow-on programs to 
develop plans to address the key transition risks we identified. As 
discussed below, the agencies have not yet fully implemented these 

NOAA and DOD Have Made Progress, but Decisions are Needed to Address 
Potential Gaps in Weather and Climate Data: 

Over the last year, NOAA and NASA have worked to establish the JPSS 
program, to keep the NPP satellite's development on track, and to 
begin developing plans for the JPSS satellite. However, of the funding 
made available to NOAA in its fiscal year 2011 appropriations, JPSS 
was allocated $471.9 million--far less than the $1 billion identified 
in the President's budget to establish a program and stay on track 
with satellite deliverables. As a result, the JPSS program office 
decided to focus on developing NPP and the satellite's ground system 
so that it could remain on track for an October 2011 launch. The 
program slowed development efforts on the first JPSS satellite and 
halted work on the second JPSS satellite. Table 1 shows the status of 
key components of NPP and JPSS-1. 

Table 1: Status of NPP and JPSS-1 as of August 2011: 

Satellite: NPP; 
* All of the sensors have been integrated onto the NPP spacecraft; 
* Environmental testing and ground compatibility testing have been 
* NASA plans to complete the final operational and mission readiness 
reviews in early September; 
* The launch date is currently planned for October 25, 2011. 

Satellite: JPSS-1; 
* Contracts for all sensors have been transferred to NASA; 
* Work on most sensors, including the Clouds' and the Earth's Radiant 
Energy System, the Visible/Infrared Imager/Radiometer Suite, Total 
Solar Irradiance Sensor, Cross-Track Infrared Sounder, and Ozone 
Mapper/Profiler Suite, is under way; 
* Technical issues found on the Cross-Track Infrared Sounder and the 
Ozone Mapper/Profiler Suite will need to be addressed, but are not 
expected to affect the JPSS-1 launch date; 
* NOAA has not yet determined how it will accommodate sensors and 
subsystems that are part of the JPSS program but not included on the 
JPSS-1 satellite: the Search and Rescue Satellite Aided Tracking, the 
Advanced Data Collection System, or the Total Solar Irradiance Sensor. 

Source: GAO analysis of NOAA and NASA data. 

[End of table] 

Although we recommended in May 2010 that NOAA expedite decisions on 
the cost, schedule, and capabilities of JPSS, NOAA has not yet done 
so. According to NOAA officials, uncertainty surrounding the agency's 
fiscal year 2011 budget has made it difficult to establish a program 
baseline. However, NOAA has developed a requirements document and is 
obtaining an independent cost estimate. The agency expects to have a 
complete program baseline in place by February 2012. Until this 
baseline is in place, it is not clear what functionality will be 
delivered by when and at what cost. Given the critical development 
activities planned for 2012, it is imperative that NOAA move 
expeditiously to establish a credible program baseline. 

NOAA Faces A Potential Gap in Satellite Data Continuity and Is 
Considering Options to Minimize That Gap: 

NOAA is facing a potential gap in satellite data continuity. When 
NPOESS was first disbanded, program officials anticipated launching 
the JPSS satellites in 2015 and 2018 (while acknowledging that these 
dates could change as the program's plans were firmed up). Over the 
past year, as program officials made critical decisions to defer work 
on JPSS in order to keep NPP on track, the launch dates for JPSS-1 and 
JPSS-2 have changed. Program officials currently estimate that the 
satellites will launch in late 2016 and 2021. 

There are two key scenarios that could lead to a gap in satellite data 
in the afternoon orbit between the end of life of the NPP satellite 
and the availability of the first JPSS satellite. Under the first 
scenario, NPP sensors may not last until JPSS-1 is launched. The NASA 
Inspector General reported that NASA is concerned that selected NPP 
sensors may last only 3 years because of workmanship issues.[Footnote 
12] The second scenario for a satellite data gap involves further 
delays in the JPSS-1 launch date. This could occur due to shortfalls 
in program funding or technical issues in the development of the 
satellite. Figure 1 depicts possible gaps. 

Figure 1: Potential Gaps in Polar Satellite Data in the Afternoon 

[Refer to PDF for image: illustration] 

Years noted are fiscal years: 

Satellite: NOAA-19; 
On-orbit check out: 2009-2010; 
Expected life: 2010-2013+; 
Potential Life: 2013+-2014+. 

Satellite: NPP; 
On-orbit check out: 2012-2013+; 
Expected life: 2013+-2017; 
Potential gap if NPP fails after 3 years: 2015-2017+; 
Potential gap if JPSS-1 has further delays: 2017 and beyond. 

Satellite: JPSS-1; 
On-orbit check out: 2017; 
Expected life: 2017-2024; 
Potential gap if NPP fails after 3 years: 2015-2017; 
Potential gap if JPSS-1 has further delays: 2017 and beyond. 

Source: GAO analysis of NOAA data. 

[End of figure] 

According to NOAA, a data gap would lead to less accurate and timely 
weather prediction models used to support weather forecasting, and 
advanced warning of extreme events--such as hurricanes, storm surges, 
and floods--would be diminished. The agency reported that this could 
place lives, property, and critical infrastructure in danger. In 
addition, NOAA estimated that the time it takes to respond to 
emergency search and rescue beacons could double. 

Given the potential for a gap in satellite data, NOAA officials are 
considering whether to remove functionality from JPSS-1 in order to 
allow it to be developed--and launched--more quickly. For example, 
program officials are considering increasing the time it takes for 
data processing centers to receive the data, removing the ground 
systems' ability to process some data, and removing sensors. 

DOD Is Planning for DWSS; Critical Milestones Lie Ahead: 

DOD has developed draft plans for its DWSS program. The DWSS 
satellites will take over the morning orbit after the remaining DMSP 
satellites reach the end of their respective lives.[Footnote 13] The 
DWSS program will be comprised of two satellites--the first expected 
to be launched no earlier than 2018. Each will have three sensors: a 
Visible/Infrared Imager/Radiometer Suite, a Space Environment Monitor, 
and a microwave imager/sounder. DOD plans to formally review system 
requirements in December 2011 and to conduct a preliminary design 
review by September 2012. In addition, DOD plans to develop a 
requirements document and obtain an independent cost estimate during 
fiscal year 2012. 

Although we recommended in May 2010 that DOD expedite decisions on the 
cost, schedule, and capabilities of DWSS, DOD has not yet finalized 
the functionality that will be provided by the DWSS program, or 
developed a cost and schedule baseline. For example, DOD has not yet 
decided what microwave sounder will be developed for DWSS, and whether 
it will merely meet legacy requirements or provide the full scope of 
functionality originally planned for NPOESS. Until DOD defines the 
scope of its program, including the capabilities each satellite will 
provide, both military and civilian users will be unable to prepare 
for DWSS satellite data and any data shortfalls. 

NOAA and DOD Continue to Face Key Transition Risks: 

Over a year ago, we identified key transition risks facing NOAA and 
DOD, including the need to support the other agency's requirements, 
ensure effective oversight of new program management, manage cost and 
schedule implications from contract and other program changes, and 
ensure the availability of key staff and capabilities, and we 
recommended that the agencies move to mitigate these risks. Today, the 
agencies continue to face key risks in transitioning from NPOESS to 
their new programs. These risk areas are discussed below. 

* Supporting the other agency's requirements: As a joint program, 
NPOESS was expected to fulfill many military, civilian, and research 
requirements for environmental data. However, because the requirements 
of NOAA and DOD are different, the agencies may develop programs that 
meet their own needs but not the other's. Because both NOAA and DOD 
have not decided on the final functionality of their respective 
programs, each could choose to remove functionality that is important 
to the other agency and its users. This has started to occur. NOAA has 
already made decisions to remove a transmission capability that is 
important to the Navy. Other functions that are currently under 
consideration (such as delaying receipt of the data or removing ground 
processing functions) could also affect military operations. Agency 
officials reported that they formed a joint working group in July 2011 
to discuss and mitigate these issues, but it is too soon to determine 
what progress has been made, if any. If the agencies cannot find a way 
to build an effective partnership that facilitates both efficient and 
effective decision-making on data continuity needs, the needs of both 
agencies--and their users--may not be adequately incorporated into the 
new programs. 

* Oversight of new program management: Under its new JPSS program, 
NOAA plans to transfer parts of the NPOESS program to NASA, but it has 
not yet defined how it will oversee NASA's efforts. We have reported 
that NASA has consistently underestimated time and cost and has not 
adequately managed risk factors such as contractor performance. 
[Footnote 14] Because of such issues, we listed NASA's acquisition 
management as a high-risk area in 1990, and it remains a high-risk 
area today.[Footnote 15] NOAA officials reported that they are 
developing a management control plan with NASA and intend to perform 
an independent review of this plan when it is completed. This plan has 
now been in development for about 18 months, and neither NOAA nor NASA 
could provide a firm time frame for its completion. Without strong 
NOAA oversight of NASA's management of program components, JPSS may 
continue to face the same cost, schedule, and contract management 
challenges as the NPOESS program. 

* Cost and schedule implications resulting from contract and program 
changes: NASA has transferred the sensor development and common ground 
systems contracts from the NPOESS contract. However, NOAA has been in 
negotiations for at least 6 months with the NPOESS contractor 
regarding intellectual property rights for components of JPSS. The 
agency could not provide a time frame for when it expects this issue 
to be resolved. Until these issues are resolved, the full cost and 
schedule implications of contract and program changes will be unknown. 

* Ensuring key staff and capabilities: The NPOESS program office was 
composed of NOAA, NASA, Air Force, and contractor staff with knowledge 
and experience in the status, risks, and lessons learned from the 
NPOESS program. This knowledge would be important to both programs 
after the transition period. According to NOAA and NASA officials, the 
JPSS program office is now fully staffed. On the other hand, the DOD 
program has only staffed approximately 80 out of 155 positions in its 
program office. In addition, NOAA officials acknowledged that they had 
estimated that a contractor workforce of approximately 1,600 would 
work on JPSS activities; however, only 819 are on board due to budget 
constraints. Unless DOD is proactive in ensuring that its program 
office is fully staffed and NOAA contractors are able to fill all 
necessary positions, the new programs may not be able to complete work 
as scheduled and satellite launches could be delayed. 

In summary, the NPOESS program was disbanded in the hope that separate 
DOD and NOAA programs could prove more successful than the joint 
program, that costs and schedules might finally begin to stabilize, 
and that the continuity of satellite data critical to both military 
and civilian missions would be assured. However, over 18 months later, 
NOAA and DOD are still scrambling to establish their respective 
programs and to develop baseline cost and schedule estimates for those 
programs. As a result, it still is not clear what the programs will 
deliver, when, and at what cost. 

In addition, the agencies continue to face a number of transition 
risks, including the continued need to support each other's 
requirements and residual contracting issues. As NOAA makes difficult 
decisions on whether to remove promised JPSS functionality in order to 
mitigate a satellite data gap, it will be important to prioritize the 
functionality and to work with DOD to ensure that critical 
requirements are still met. Timely decisions on cost, schedule, and 
capabilities are needed to allow both acquisitions to move forward and 
to ensure that painful gaps in satellite data can be minimized. Until 
both NOAA and DOD can develop and finalize credible plans for their 
respective programs, and mitigate or minimize the risks, neither 
agency's users can plan for how to address this gap. 

Chairman Broun, Chairman Harris, Ranking Member Miller, Ranking Member 
Edwards, and Members of the Subcommittees, this completes my prepared 
statement. I would be pleased to respond to any questions that you may 
have at this time. 

GAO Contact and Staff Acknowledgments: 

If you have any questions on matters discussed in this testimony, 
please contact David A. Powner at (202) 512-9286 or at Other key contributors include Colleen Phillips 
(Assistant Director), Kate Agatone, Franklin Jackson, Fatima Jahan, 
and Lee McCracken. 

[End of section] 


[1] GAO, Polar-orbiting Environmental Satellites: Agencies Must Act 
Quickly to Address Risks That Jeopardize the Continuity of Weather and 
Climate Data, [hyperlink,] 
(Washington, D.C.: May 27, 2010); Polar- orbiting Environmental 
Satellites: With Costs Increasing and Data Continuity at Risk, 
Improvements Needed in Tri-agency Decision Making, [hyperlink,] (Washington, D.C.: June 17, 
2009); Environmental Satellites: Polar-orbiting Satellite Acquisition 
Faces Delays; Decisions Needed on Whether and How to Ensure Climate 
Data Continuity, [hyperlink,] 
(Washington, D.C.: May 16, 2008); and Polar-orbiting Operational 
Environmental Satellites: Restructuring Is Under Way, but Technical 
Challenges and Risks Remain, [hyperlink,] (Washington, D.C.: Apr. 27, 

[2] NOAA provides command and control for both the POES and DMSP 
satellites after they are in orbit. 

[3] The European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological 
Satellites' MetOp program is a series of three polar-orbiting 
satellites dedicated to operational meteorology. MetOp satellites are 
planned to be launched sequentially over 14 years. The first of these 
satellites was launched in 2006 and is currently operational. The next 
two are expected to launch in 2012 and 2017, respectively. 

[4] Presidential Decision Directive NSTC-2, May 5, 1994. 

[5] Using NPP as an operational satellite means that its data will be 
used to provide climate and weather products. 

[6] [hyperlink,], [hyperlink,], and [hyperlink,]. 

[7] The announcement accompanied the release of the President's fiscal 
year 2011 budget request. 

[8] [hyperlink,]. 

[9] NOAA officials noted that these dates could change as transition 
plans were further developed. 

[10] NOAA officials planned to exclude (1) the Space Environment 
Monitor (which collects data to predict the effects of space weather 
on technological systems) and instead, to obtain this information from 
DOD's DWSS satellites, and (2) the Microwave Imager/Sounder (which 
collects microwave images and data needed for measurements such as 
rain rate and soil moisture) and instead to obtain these data through 
an agreement with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. Although 
they plan to launch the Total and Spectral Solar Irradiance Suite, 
NOAA officials had not made a decision on which satellite will host 
the sensor. 

[11] This estimate includes approximately $2.9 billion in NOAA funds 
spent on NPOESS through fiscal year 2010, but does not include 
approximately $2.9 billion that DOD has spent through fiscal year 2010 
on NPOESS. NOAA officials also reported that the JPSS cost estimate is 
at a higher confidence level than the previous NPOESS life-cycle cost 

[12] NASA Office of Inspector General, NASA's Management of the NPOESS 
Preparatory Project, IG-11-018 (Washington, D.C.: June 2, 2011). 

[13] DMSP-17 and 18 are currently in morning orbits. DOD has two more 
DMSP satellites (called DMSP-19 and 20) and expects to launch them no 
earlier than 2012 and 2015, respectively. 

[14] See, for example, GAO, NASA: Assessments of Selected Large-Scale 
Projects, [hyperlink,] 
(Washington, D.C.:, Mar. 3, 2011). 

[15] GAO, High-Risk Series: An Update, [hyperlink,] (Washington, D.C.: January 

[End of section] 

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