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Major Weather Satellite Acquisition to be Examined by House Science Committee

Press Release From: House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology
Posted: Thursday, September 28, 2006

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Tomorrow, the Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and an official from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) will testify before the House Science Committee on NOAA's acquisition of a major, multi-billion dollar weather satellite system and a new GAO report on the acquisition program that will be released at the hearing.

Within the next year, NOAA will finalize plans for its next generation fleet of geostationary satellites, which remain in fixed position above the equator and provide weather forecasting data to the public. Weather maps commonly used on the Weather Channel and elsewhere originate from these satellites. The geostationary satellites are called Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites (GOES); the next generation fleet is dubbed GOES-R.

NOAA is also in the midst of a multibillion dollar acquisition of its polar-orbiting satellites; that program has been marred by mismanagement and is billions over budget and years behind schedule. The Committee is closely monitoring progress in that program and will continue to exercise close oversight of this latest acquisition, which will be the largest acquisition project to be managed exclusively by NOAA. Already, cost estimates for GOES-R have risen from $6.2 billion to upwards of $11 billion. A Committee-requested GAO report, "Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites: Steps Remain in Incorporating Lessons Learned from Other Satellite Programs," will be officially released at the hearing. It examines the status of the program and reasons for the cost increases and problems to date, and identifies program management actions NOAA should take to ensure past problems with the polar-orbiting satellite program are not repeated with GOES-R.

Friday September 29, 2006
Full Committee - Hearing
GAO Report on NOAA's Weather Satellite Program
10:00am - 12:00pm
2318 Rayburn House Office Building

Witnesses

  • Vice Admiral Conrad C. Lautenbacher (ret.), Administrator, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; and
  • Mr. David Powner, Director of Information Technology Management Issues, U.S. Government Accountability Office.

The hearing charter, which provides detailed background information on the hearing, will be available soon on the Science Committee website. Member opening statements and witness testimony will be posted to the website at the start of the hearing.

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