Transparency Needed to Evaluate GPS Interference

Oct 6, 2011

Washington D.C. – Today, Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Ralph Hall (R-TX) and Investigations and Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Paul Broun (R-GA) reiterated their request that agencies provide the Committee with their assessments of the potential impacts of the LightSquared network on their operations.  These assessments were transmitted to the National Telecommunications and Information Agency (NTIA) in July, yet neither the NTIA, nor the individual agencies have allowed the technical evaluations to see the light of day. 

“Despite the Administration’s claims of unprecedented transparency, the American public wouldn’t know about the impact of LightSquared’s interference on GPS if it weren’t for the diligence of Congressional oversight.” said Chairman Broun.  “We need this Administration to be open about the impacts of LightSquared’s network on the GPS signal.”

The FCC requested comments on LightSquared’s proposal on July 30th, with a deadline of August 15th.  While some agencies have complied with the Committee’s request, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Commerce (DOC), including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Institutes of Standards and Technology (NIST), continue to withhold this information. Today, Chairmen Hall and Broun sent letters to DHS, NIST, and NOAA, once again requesting their assessments be provided to the Committee.

The Committee held a hearing on September 8th, 2011 to examine the impacts of the LightSquared network on federal science activities related to the Global Positioning System (GPS).  Prior to that hearing, on July 28th, Chairman Hall asked the agencies to provide the Committee with a copy of the technical assessments they submitted to the NTIA.  On September 20th, Chairman Hall, Vice Chairman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI), along with Republican Members of the Investigations and Oversight (I&O) Subcommittee requested a number of records from the Administration related to the LightSquared proposal. 

Chairman Hall said, “The ramifications of destroying critical national security and economic infrastructure such as GPS should be fully vetted in the light of day.  Everyone supports expanded wireless broadband capacity in the United States and I hope we can find a way to make it happen.  But it absolutely cannot happen behind closed doors and with backroom deals.” 

Hall continued, “Unfortunately, this is an issue that the Committee is unable to fully address because of the refusal of certain agencies to release their experts’ technical evaluations.  For the benefit of all parties, today I am releasing the agency documents submitted thus far for the record in an attempt to shine some light on the issues that have been raised.”

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