GPS: The Way Ahead
Transforming policy into programs and progress challenges the leadership of any organization. But when the effort involves a global infrastructure, international relations, national interagency cooperation, and multiple civil/commercial/military users—as GNSS systems do–the task becomes even more complex. The director of the U.S. agency charged with implementing a new presidential directive affecting GPS describes how that's being done.
On December 4, 2004, George W. Bush signed a National Security Presidential Directive (NSPD) that established the national policy for U.S. Space-Based Positioning, Navigation, and Timing (PNT). The directive updated the 1996 National Policy on the Global Positioning System (GPS). It also provided guidance for the procurement, management, and protection of GPS and its U.S. government operated augmentations.
The policy created the National Space-Based Positioning, Navigation and Timing Executive Committee (EXCOM), which was charged with advisory and coordinative roles among federal agencies regarding policies, issues, and initiatives involving GPS and related space-based PNT systems. The article will briefly describe the EXCOM’s role and activities as well as that of the staff organization created to support it.
EXCOM: Members and Staff
The National Coordination Office for Space-Based Positioning, Navigation and Timing was established on November 1, 2005, to serve as the administrative secretariat for the National Positioning, Navigation and Timing Executive Committee. The coordination office is staffed by subject matter experts from the member EXCOM organizations.
The Coordination Office monitors the status of policy implementation actions, coordinates outreach initiatives, and manages key EXCOM-directed activities and studies. It has been involved in a wide-range of international, national, and local issues during the past year. Interagency efforts also focused on ensuring the GPS modernization program proceeds on a schedule to meet growing public demands for space-based positioning, navigation and timing services.
Working groups established under the U.S./European Union GPS-Galileo Agreement convened during 2006 to review items of mutual interest and strive to ensure the future availability of easily accessible, accurate, and reliable PNT systems and services for users throughout the world. In March 2006, a bilateral expert group on radio frequency compatibility and interoperability (Working Group A) successfully produced a jointly optimized common signal after 21 months of cooperative effort. Working Group B on trade and civil applications just held its first meeting March 16–17 in Washington, D.C. A joint statement from that discussion is available on the PNT Web site discussed later in this article.
Working Group C, which generally will deal with design and development of next-generation satellite navigation and timing, is expected to hold its first meeting this spring with a particular focus on interoperable safety-of-life services between GPS and Galileo. The fourth working group, which deals with security issues, held its first meeting last year.
The forum will provide a vehicle to promote multilateral engagement with foreign space-based positioning, navigation, and timing service providers. This forum will provide a means to promote discussion on key issues and principles such as compatibility, interoperability, trade, and business practices.
The U.S. government will maintain an active role in the ICG and the Providers’ Forum in order to develop important alliances with developing countries regarding space-based PNT services.
Brochures and online products produced in English, Spanish, and French provide factual, authoritative information in easy-to-understand formats. The Coordination Office also plans to translate this material into Arabic and other languages, as required. Brochures are available in hardcopy for conferences, meetings and symposia through the Coordination Office.
A newly created Web site provides information about the EXCOM and Coordination Office, PNT policy, the U.S. Space-Based PNT Advisory Board, and frequently asked questions. It also contains public domain presentations for information and field use. Since its inception, more than 70,000 visitors have explored the site’s resources, and the site currently gets about 250 visitors per day. For PNT info, visit <http://www.pnt.gov>.
A second Web site was launched last September to cover GPS applications and serve as a repository for news media and general public information, including the brochures mentioned earlier. The site, which has had 11,500 visitors since it opened, also has links to related online material. To learn more about GPS, visit: <http://www.gps.gov>.
National PNT Advisory Board
The board charter was approved by the EXCOM in early 2006 and signed by the NASA Administrator on April 18, 2006. The Coordination Office managed EXCOM member input for study topics and will present them at the board’s first meeting in March 2007.
The Coordination Office provides the EXCOM with requested information and assessments of U.S. government space-based PNT programs, policies, budgets, and activities, with a focus on national interests and interdependencies. Agency and department planning includes the development, acquisition, deployment, operation, sustainment, and modernization of U.S. space-based PNT systems, including GPS and its U.S. augmentation.
The Coordination Office gathers data to provide the EXCOM with the required information to develop inclusive national requirements for space-based PNT and to identify interagency program dependencies, such as between the GPS program and the Federal Aviation Administration’s Wide Area Augmentation System.
During the coming years, the Coordination Office will remain active in PNT symposiums and conferences delivering the U.S. message to international, national, and local audiences. The Coordination Office will report on GPS-related issues and identify opportunities to promote U.S. policy goals through our Web sites, individual presentations, media outlets, and conferences.
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