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August 7, 2008 Vol. 1, Issue 7


Rep. Nick Lampson (TX-22) of the House Committee on Science and Technology expressed grave concerns about the National Polar-Orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS).

Rep. Lampson, chairman of the Subcommittee on Energy and Environment, made his remarks in an opening statement before the Subcommittee heard testimony from Vice Admiral Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Jr., Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and David Powner, Director of Information Technology Management Issues for the Government Accountability Office (GAO) (PDF) on June 19, 2008. “This is not the situation we hoped to be in at this point in time,” Lampson said.

The Subcommittee last held a status hearing on the NPOESS program a year earlier.

NPOESS, a tri-agency acquisition program managed by NOAA, DOD, and NASA, was restructured after a Nunn-McCurdy program review in 2006. Nunn-McCurdy reviews are mandatory for Department of Defense (DOD) programs that exceed 25% cost growth. The review led to a restructuring that resulted in a reduction in the number of satellites and the capabilities of their sensors, an increase in its estimated life cycle cost to $12.5 billion, and a delay in the first scheduled launch until 2013.NPOESS 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 2026. The program was created as the result of a May 1994 Presidential Decision Directive requiring NOAA and DOD to converge their separate polar orbiting satellite programs — NOAA’s Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite (POES) and DOD’s Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP) — into a single program capable of meeting both civilian and military requirements.

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