Congressman John Garamendi (D-CA)


“Inside GNSS” reported today that the House Defense Appropriations Act for 2018 provides $10M for the GPS complementary and back up system proof of concept called for in the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). This was as a result of an amendment sponsored by Congressmen John Garamendi (D-CA) and Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ).

See amendment 32 to Division D of the bill.

We understand that the money we be allocated to Air Force Research, Development, Test and Evaluation.

Even though the money is being provided to Air Force, the project mandated by the NDAA is to be done by three cooperating departments, each of which have an interest:

  • Defense has been given the money, and of course owns the GPS system which is being protected. Defense also co-chairs with Transportation the National PNT Executive Committee which is the governing body for GPS/PNT in the US.
  • Homeland Security is responsible for critical infrastructure protection and has called GPS “…a single point of failure for critical infrastructure” because of its exceptionally broad use and high vulnerability to spoofing, jamming and other disruptions. Also, Coast Guard is a DHS agency and has custody of the legacy Loran-C infrastructure upon which an eLoran system will be built (note that separate legislation passed by the House directs DOT to work with Coast Guard to establish an eLoran system as a complement and backup for GPS). Also, DHS has been demonstrating and developing eLoran under a CRADA since 2012 and has in-house expertise with the system.
  • Transportation, in addition to being co-lead with Defense for national PNT, has long been the lead for civil PNT issues and is named by both presidential directive and legislation as being responsible for ensuring the nation has a backup capability when GPS is not available for any reason.

We called various officials within the administration about this. Many were unaware of the pending appropriation and had yet to begin to think about how the money would be handled or the project executed. We understand that this process has now begun.

The 2018 NDAA requires a report to Congress within 120 days of the act’s passage on how the three departments are going to do the Proof of Concept.  Now that it looks like the project will be funded, Congress is unlikely to brook any excuses or delays.