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Congress Presses GPS Backup Ahead of Today’s “PNT ExCom” Meeting

September 3, 2015

Earlier this week five members of Congress wrote to the deputy secretaries of the US departments of Transportation and Defense urging them to “…immediately address the issue of GPS vulnerability by establishing a national backup capability coordinated by a single federal executive agent.”

They went on to cite statements by senior Department of Homeland Security officials to the effect that GPS was as single point of failure for critical infrastructure. Also their dismay that the problem had been known for fifteen years, and that it has been over a decade since an executive order directing acquisition of such a backup system.

The two deputy secretaries chair the inter-department National Space-Based Positioning, Navigation, and Timing Executive Committee, or “PNT ExCom.” This group is charged with adjudicating PNT issues across the federal government.

In their letter the Congressmen cited a 2009 Institute of Defense Analysis report, a 2010 National PNT Advisory Board recommendation, and the results of this summer’s “Request for Comment” issued by the Department of Transportation. These agreed withthe national PNT Excom’s 2008 decision that eLoran was an affordable, and the only viable, solution.

The Congressmen also requested access to a “Tiger Team” report that the PNT Excom received almost a year ago that examined alternatives for protecting GPS with a complementary and backup system.

According to testimony at a recent Congressional hearing, the two deputy secretaries will be leading another PNT Executive Committee meeting today (3 Sep 2015) to address what they are calling “Complementary PNT.”

The need to provide a complementary/backup system for satellite-based navigation and time is not unique to the United States. And, because the US is the globe’s largest economy and a technological leader, the eyes of world are focused on today’s meeting.

One way or another, it will be a watershed moment for global technology and infrastructure protection.