DOT Should Terminate Further LORAN-C Development and Modernization and Exploit the Potential of the NAVSTAR/Global Positioning System

Gao ID: MASAD-81-42 September 18, 1981

GAO performed a follow-up review of a previous report which concluded that the Department of Defense's satellite-based NAVSTAR/Global Positioning System (GPS) could be a national asset and could replace many existing navigation systems at substantial savings. The report considered these systems, including the Department of Transportation's (DOT) LORAN-C system, to be unneeded by the early 1990's and cautioned against further investment in LORAN-C. It also recommended that the Secretary of Transportation become more involved in the GPS program to ensure the timely availability of low-cost civil receivers.

DOT has continued to develop, expand, and improve navigation systems which GPS could replace. Further, DOT has devoted little effort to evaluating the GPS capability as a marine and land navigation system and has not initiated a program to develop and demonstrate the technology necessary to ensure the availability of low-cost receivers for marine and land users. More specifically, GAO found that the Coast Guard: (1) plans to make a recommendation in 1982 to the Secretary of Transportation which should clarify the future role of GPS versus LORAN-C without adequately developing the technology necessary to ensure the availability of low-cost GPS receivers that are essential to effect widespread acceptance of GPS by the civil marine community; (2) plans to continue operating LORAN-C until at least the year 2000 although GPS is scheduled to provide coverage equivalent to LORAN-C as early as 1986; and (3) plans to spend at least $25 million to replace certain existing LORAN-C transmitters without adequately demonstrating either the need for or the cost effectiveness of the replacement.


Our recommendations from this work are listed below with a Contact for more information. Status will change from "In process" to "Open," "Closed - implemented," or "Closed - not implemented" based on our follow up work.

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