Congress cuts funds for traditional Defense satellite programs

Amid concerns about high costs and schedule delays, Congress has cut funding for traditional satellite programs at the Defense Department, while strongly endorsing a new Air Force project to develop small, affordable satellites.

The conference report on the fiscal 2008 defense authorization bill passed by Congress said the House and Senate Armed Services committees were concerned about the priorities, costs and requirements in current satellite acquisitions. The report said that certain programs "have been terminated early to free up funding for next-generation satellite systems, and new programs have been started with immature technologies and without clear and feasible requirements."

Some satellite programs have had overly aggressive schedules, insufficient funding and inadequate personnel, the report said, resulting in a national space program "plagued with schedule delays, technical difficulties and cost overruns."

This language echoes the conclusions reached by the Government Accountability Office in a report (GAO-07-730) released in April. It said the majority of large Defense space acquisition programs over the past two decades have experienced problems that have driven up costs (sometimes more than 100 percent above original estimates) and lengthened schedules.

The conference report said the committees strongly support the alternatives offered by the Air Force's Operationally Responsive Space Office established this May. Its goal is to develop new satellites in months rather than years for projects such as the next generation of the Global Positioning System and the Transformational Communications Satellite system. The office also is working on developing satellites that could be launched in days or weeks to replace aging satellites.

The authorization bill slashed $100 million from the Pentagon's requested $587.2 million budget for the next-generation GPS III satellite due to concerns by the Armed Services committees that the Air Force may be adding capabilities -- such as spot beams to cover a particular portion of the globe and cross links between satellites -- that may no longer be required.

The authorization bill also cut the requested budget for the Transformational Satellite Program by $150 million to $814 million. The budget for the program, which is intended to provide Defense users with broadband communications, has jumped from $15 billion to $17.5 billion, with the launch date pushed back from 2011 to 2015.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.