GAO: Pentagon Lacks Business Case for GPS Alternatives

Reports says PNT Oversight Council prioritized modernizing the existing GPS, not alternatives

U.S. Government Accountability Office report claims that the U.S. Defense Department has not made a complete business case for its positioning, navigation and timing alternatives to back up GPS.

The report, released late last week, found that four of five alternative systems in development didn’t have complete business cases.  These business cases enable the U.S. government to justify funding and evaluate benefits and risks, the report said.

“So DOD leaders didn’t have enough information to support crucial decisions at the start. We also found that DOD’s oversight council for GPS hasn’t set goals for measuring progress on the alternatives,” the report said.

The GAO went further, saying that Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro should ensure that branch’s alternative PNT efforts have complete business case elements, including an acquisition strategy.

In another recommendation, the GAO report recommended that DOD’s PNT Oversight Council, a senior-level group, establish strategic objectives and metrics to measure the alternative efforts.  “However, the Council has largely prioritized modernizing the existing GPS system over alternative PNT efforts during recent meetings and has no strategic objectives or metrics to measure progress on the alternative efforts.  Defined objectives and metrics would help the Council better measure overall performance and mitigate any potential gaps in PNT capabilities as the military transitions to using M-code,” the study said.

GAO has commented several times that alternate PNT systems do not seem to be a priority in DOD, said Dana GowardResilient Navigation and Timing Foundation president. “Instead, the department continues to spend most of its time trying to improve GPS, despite its inherent vulnerabilities. Let’s hope recent threats from China and Russia give the department greater focus,” he said.

GAO, which maintains that both recommendations are valid, said DOD concurred with one recommendation and partially concurred with the other.

Contact: Jon Ludwigson, GAO, (202) 512-4841,


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