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tv   Politics and Public Policy Today  CSPAN  January 4, 2016 1:20pm-3:21pm EST

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dignitaries, state, federal and international even, who held forums to talk about matters of interest to the general public. today's activity at the town hall is one such event. and in order to move us on to that particular point, i'm going to turn the program over at this point to the president of northern virginia community college, dr. scott rawls, who will introduce our speaker, or guest actually, and outline the program. dr. rawls. [ applause ] >> thank you, sir. thank you. good afternoon. northern virginia community college is honored today to have a very special guest, our u.s. -- our secretary of u.s. treasury, jack lew. secretary lew had a
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distinguished private career before becoming our secretary of treasury for the chief of staff for the white house, director of omb and even higher education with new york university. so you're here among friends. we are agencies sited to have you. he is particularly here today to talk with our students about proposed changes in u.s. currency and our students also have opinions and questions, as you will find out, they are very excited you are here, they are excited to share their thoughts and ask you questions. we are excited you are here. thank you for being at northern virginia community college. secretary of treasury, jack lew. [ applause ] >> thank you. thank you very much, president rawls, provost buchanan and thanks to all of you for being here today. let me start and explain why i'm here and why i'm so happy to have a chance to hear from you. over the last few years, we have been working on modernizing our currency, the money that we use every day.
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what most people probably don't think about is that the first responsibility we have of currency is to make sure it's safe, to make sure thatless's hard to counterfeit and easy to identify and durable. so we have a regular program of reviewing our currency, to you are bills and deciding which ones are the next ones to be redesigned. well, our $10 is the next one up for principally security reasons, but it's not just the $10 bill. it's a whole family. it's going to be the 2, the 5, the 10, the 20, ultimately everything but the $1 bill, which is set by statute. as we looked a this the opportunity, we said this can be more than just a question of putting some security features on a new bill. this can really be an opportunity to start a conversation in the country about what should we put on our
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cup re currency we want to reflect on a topic and the topic we chose was democracy. now, it happens that when this next bill is unveiled formally will be in the year 2020. and that is the 100th anniversary of women's suffrage, women getting the right to vote. and as we looked at this, and i was briefed on this probably two, three years ago for the first time, i learned it was 100 years ago that we had a woman on our currency, over 100 years ago. the last time we had a woman on our currency was martha washington on the other side of george washington. and the two things that we decided as we went through this redesign was in addition to security, which will always come first, what we want this new family of bills to represent is the idea of democracy and putting the image of a woman on our currency for the first time in over 100 years, to reflect on
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the contribution that women have made both to building our democracy and the history of our country. and there's been a lot of national discussion. we announced this undertaking, asked people to write us and to use the web side and to use social media and we have well over 1.5 million responses of one kind or another. they range from handwritten letters from grade school kids to retweets and everything in between. what i'm hoping we can use the next period of time here today for is for me to hear from you to get your ideas about what it is that's important in terms of the images, the themes of democracy to put on our currency si and if you have ideas in terms of what woman you would like to see on our currency, i would like to get your ideas on that as well. this is a very exciting project. our money is more than just
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something we do business. you know, our money is actually the backbone of the global economy. when you go to institutions, whether it's retail institutions or central banks around the world, the currency that they, you know, most recognize other than their own is the u.s. dollar. and it is a reflection of who we are, which is why it's so important that we get this right, that we listen, that we think hard and we have been -- we have been in between everything else that we have been doing over the last two years, working very hard on this in the last six months, we have had a very active effort to reach out and listen to people in various settings and this is the kind of setting where we get to hear from students with a range of backgrounds and i'm going to stop talking so that i can listen to you and i'm happy to answer questions, if you have them, aer on this or, you know,
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other topics. so, how would you like to proceed, just show of hands? all right. >> don't be shy. >> don't be shy. back with the -- >> i teach economics here and i tell my students, before do you anything, collect the data so you can make rational decisions. so, what compels you to make a decision that says looking at the data, needs to be redesigned? >> well, there's a committee that meets on a regular basis that looks at a lot of issues, i won't give all of the exact components because they have to do with the security of our currency, but it has to do with how much a bill is used, how often it is counterfeited, how difficult the design of the bill is or the features on the bill are. and that's the trigger event on what is the next bill to be redesigned. over time, we redesign all the bills. it is not necessarily the bill that was the last -- the oldest
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to be designed, because if you look at say $100 bill or as 20 bill, they have a lot more security features than the lower denominations, so it's a complicated set of factors that are examined and it's examined by technical experts at the bureau of engraving and printing and the federal reserve and the treasury department who spend their entire careers working on making sure our currency is safe and secure. yeah? >> over and above the cost of the redesign, how much money will it cost to change the person? >> you know, i'm not sure i can break out what the cost of the change is because any time you put a new -- a new piece of currency into circulation, the whole system has to be built up for that purpose. i can tell you the most expensive part of producing our currency is putting the security
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features on. so, without a doubt, the most expensive part of the process will be the r&d and then the production of security features that range from things you can see to things you can't see. you know, sometimes it -- if you -- when you touch our currency, you can feel the printing, that's antaglia printing. that was, at one time, enough to make it very hard to counterfeit. we now have all kinds of things in the paper, on the surface, some of them, you know, that have really a high-tech component to them. and that's where the real expense is. the actual image isn't engraving. that is not going to add materially to the cost. the security features are quite expensive, but we need to do that. all currency around the world is increasingly incorporating security features and we have to stay in a place where our currency is something people can
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just count on being very difficult to counterfeit. >> if we are talking about the $10 bill, does that mean removing alexander hamilton from it or putting a woman or some other feature on the other side of the bill? >> so, we haven't actually said exactly what is -- the final design is going to be. what i have said from the moment we made the announcement that we were undertaking this project is that we are going to continue to honor alexander hamilton, something that's been important to me from the beginning of this project is that the man who single -- had the single largest contribution to building our economic system and many ways, our system of government, is going to continue to be honored on our currency. i think the idea of having the image of a woman on our dur rehncy is something that is -- it's more than just a kind of passing interest. i mean it has to do with over
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the last 200 years, recognizing that women have played a part in building this country, being part of this democracy, being part of the story of our country. and that story has to be told. i think that if you look at the dollar bill, you got to think of it as more than just the one square inch on one side and we are looking at the entire bill and there are going to be a lot of exciting things that hopefully will come out of this review that will give us the ability to tell more stories than our currency now tells. and as i say, it is going to start with the $10 bill and then there will be additional things to come on other denominations as they come out. so i would say that this is an opportunity to hear about what kinds of images, you know, the people in this room think really would tell the story of our democracy and we are going to work on the best way to incorporate that both on the
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front and on the other side of the bill. yeah? >> a general question, why do we not use coins with larger denominations? not sure if there would be a security issue but i feel like durability wise lasts longer than paper. >> we have dollar coins in circulation and they have turned out not to be as popular with people as paper currency. you know, so the attempts to use more coins is something that i think over time probably will catch on, but it hasn't caught on yet. the thing that i found kind of interesting as we have kind of gone through the analysis behind
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how much currency do we need in an mcthat's increasingly, you know, relying on online purchases and swiping cards, the interesting thing i learned and i think it's wouldy this is not just a decision for today but it's probably long-term decision, is that even though the amount of transactions being done without currency is growing rapidly, the economy is growing more rapidly and the amount of currency in circulation is still growing, even though there are all these other ways that people are transacting business. so, there's actually more money in circulation now with the advent of online purchasing and the -- you know exexpensive use of credit cards and debit cards and it means that paper currency is probably going to be with us for a very long time. so the kinds of issues that we are grappling with as we talk about designing currency i think
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are going to be, you know, still something that we see on our currency ten years from now, 20 years from now, 30 years from now, for a very long time. so it is why it's so important to us, as we make a decision to hear ideas that come from -- from the broad public and from people like you. yeah? >> i have also a more general question. what do you think is the most important issue facing our global monetary system today? >> ha ha. [ laughter ] a nice simple question. i think that if you look at the global economy, what the global economy needs more of is demand. it needs more total activity. and in the aftermath of the recession, we have used an awful lot of policy levers in the united states. we have used fiscal policy. we used monetary policy.
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we have rewritten our financial regulatory laws. that's structural reform. and we are now seeing the united states outperforming other economies in terms of the recovery. what i tell my counterparts around the world is you need to use all the levers, you can't rely extensively on any one of those three levers. so, i think that is the challenge that i sigh kind of singularly. there's an awful lot of things underneath that though. yeah? >> i like the idea of using the $10 bill to express the ideals of democracy. i thank you's a good thing. we haven't done that with our currency in the past. alexander hamilton though, democracy and pretty much incompatible. a great economist and i like him for that but he was opposed to democracy. what about designing the $10 bill now, what about putting
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the -- an image of the convention on one side and lighting the fact that women like elizabeth cady stanton and susan b. anthony and frederick douglass there was as well so we could have them kind of in the forefront of that and other side, the continental congress the declaration of end against was enacted and thomas jefferson, stress equality on one side, rights on the other? >> obviously, we are looking at a lot of suggestions that relate to suffrage and you certainly ticked off some of the individuals who played a key role in that. thomas jefferson is already on the $2 bill. and so he has got his own piece of currency. but those are very interesting ideas. thank you. yeah? >> i have a question about,
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um -- i had a question about bitcoin. it seems like for a while there it took off into digital currency and a lot of people were really excited about it but somehow, it died down. i wondered your thoughts on bitcoin and the future of having more of a globalized type of currency instead of what we have now. >> you know, i think if you look at the history of payment systems, they usually come about through changes that seem disruptive or a little bit kind of off the beaten path at the beginning. even money was introduced at a time when people were, you know, using things of real value and money was an abstract representation. so, i think, you know, we have to be open minded about what innovation looks like, 'cause no one 100 years ago could have
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imagined the system that would be as dependent on, you know, on things like electronic transfers and credit cards and debit cards, as we have today. so, i'm not sure what the innovations that will drive the transaction flows in the future. one of the things about bit coin that is it different than a lot of other payment systems that we have is it is designed to be anonymous. things that are designed to be anonymous tend to have at tributes that are not dissimilar from what cash economies look like. it's hard to follow flows and it's, you know, sometimes easier to use cash for illicit purposes than things that would go through a formal banking system. so, one of the thens that we have done at treasury is we look at things like built coin is how to use an overlay of all of the things we do to make sure that if there are things that are illegal or illicit going on with, you know excash or
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currency or, you know exwe have the ability to look into a system, you know, like bitcoin in the same way. it's a little challenging because the different -- it is a different medium. but those are the kinds of questions that we have asked. we leave the question of kind of what is the preferred payment system of the future to be worked out through the marketplace of individual choice, which has made lot of decisions over the last 100 years and have produced a range of ways to ease commerce, to make it both more event and cheaper to do business, and i suspect that if we were meeting here 20 years from today, there would be things newer than bitcoin we would be looking at because the rate of change is only increasing. somebody over there have a hand up a minute ago? no? yeah. >> instead of choosing a very
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famous woman, i would like to see you choose an anonymous immigrant woman to represent all the women who actually built this country together. >> that's an interesting idea. i mean, the -- there's always a challenge between -- between very recognizable images that tell stories that are well-known individual stories and people who are symbolic of larger groups. that's a very interesting suggestion. thank you. yeah? >> i have a question. you said the new bill would be available in 2020? i want to know the deadline for deciding the face of the new bill and how open is the snol nationwide or is it just -- >> it interesting. the leadtime for designing currency is very long. we will be making a decision in these coming, you know, weeks on the basic shape of the design.
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so i'm looking forward to announcing at some point quite soon, you know, where we end up in terms of the design of the currency. there's been a long process to turn that into something that's actually coming off of printing presses and going into circulation. and you need to have all the security features in place. they have to be in a form that can be mass produced millions and millions of times and that's why there's a bit of a gap between the initial decision, the unveiling of the formal piece of currency itself and then the mass production of it. so, the schedule is one that for -- for those of us who are impatient, make decision and implement them, tough kind of get accustomed to. but if you go back to the first purpose of the redesign, which is security, it actually makes a lot of sense, because the piece
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that takes the most time is designing and producing those features. yeah? there's been a -- >> there's been a recent movement lately to abolish the penny use of circulation and even a piece last nate done on john oliver's weekly news show on hbo talking about that very same issue, citing, amongst many things it comeses the treasury more to print that thing, there's nothing cheaper you can make it out of to print it one, you see that as something feasible at all and two, if it is, will it happen during your tenure? >> we have been looking at the penny for a long time because obviously, the value of a penny has got smaller and smaller, as just time has gone on, even with low inflation, it continues to diminish. i think that the question of when and how to make a decision
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on that is something we are still looking at. i know it has been under review for quite a long time and i have looked a it the in several different incarnations myself, so it is a question we do have to ask because you have to always try to make sure that the currency reflects what the needs of commerce are and what the value of the currency is. but i -- we have made no decision just yet. yeah? >> have you thought about putting multiple women on our money? why choose just one? >> that's a good question. you know, we have thought about it and one of the options is you could have -- like we have different quarters, you could have different images on different versions of a $2 bill, a $5 bill, a $10 bill.
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it is something people really love the idea or they hate the idea and, you know, it is something that some people think is confusing, not being able to easily recognize paper currency. since coins are all a different size, all the quarters are more or less feel the same. if you had different $5 bills or $10 bills, would you have to look at them pretty carefully to see which was which. i must say that early in this process, i was thinking about that and am still thinking about it, but i have been surprised as i have gone through meetings like this how many people said i don't know if i like that idea. you seem to lake the idea, so i'm happy to hear that suggestion. i think that obviously what it said more opportunities to recognize more of our history. one of the things that you realize as you go through thinking about, you know, not that many bills that we have a rich history and a fairly
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limited number of spaces to carry images on our currency, which is why we are thinking about the whole bill and telling -- using the bill to tell more of a story, which i think is a way even before you get to the question of having multiple bills, to reflect a depth and breadth of our history, in this case, who has contributed to democracy. but we haven't made a final decision on that. that's certainly a possibility. yes, in the back. >> we always talk about [ inaudible ] i think if we have to put the picture on a dollar bill or $10, we should also consider [ inaudible ] one of them is [ inaudible ] her life to the college, not only her life but her money, too. and i know a lot of people
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[ inaudible ] because of that. so i consider [ inaudible ] thanks. >> thank you. yes. >> two parts. is there a short list for the names and faces being considered on the $10 bill and is ozzie taylor morton, the first female secretary of treasury being considered on that short list? >> you know, the -- there are a lot of names that have come up both within our internal review and from the public comments. i will say that there is a lot of the same names keep getting recommended many, many times in different places so while it's not a short list, there are some names that have gotten more attention than others. and we are still looking at a range of options. you know, there's questions
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about what part of our history you want to tell and it's why, as i say, we are looking at ways to have a larger view of how many stories we can put on our currency to capture more of the richness of our history. so i think the answer to your question is there's still quite a few names that are candidates. yeah? >> for the new woman on the bill, are you seriously considering jackie kennedy or harriet tubman? >> so i'm not going to comment on specific people that we are considering. i can say that there have been a lot of people who have spoken in
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particular to harriet tubman as a potential person to be on our currency. but certainly, she is not the only one that we have heard a lot of support for. you know, the idea of i think, you know, from my perspective, it should be a compelling story, where through the life work of the person, it is -- it shows an independent contribution to building the ideal and the reality of democracy in our country. and there are quite a few names that meet that definition. the fact that it's been over 100 years since a woman has been on our currency doesn't mean there aren't a lot of candidates. yeah. >> i'm sure abigail adams' name has come up many times. >> yep. >> but my real question is the
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fed going to raise rates next -- i'm kidding. the person -- can they be alive or do they have to have passed? >> so, that is actually one absolute restriction. under law, you can't put the image of a living person on our currency. so the statutory framework that we work in is the dollar bill is set. congress said it's going to stay the way it is. and you can't put the image of a living person on our currency. so, a lot of latitude. when we said that the theme of democracy was going to be the broad criteria for inclusion and when we said we were going to use the image of a woman that kind of defined the universe and that doesn't limit it to just one or two people. that's why we have gone through this process. the question of what period of
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our history is something that we have heard a lot of comes on. you know, some people have said you should go back to the founding era. others have said you should come to a more modern period to reflect the ongoing contribution in history and obviously, in between, there's -- there's, you know, depending on how you measure it, two centuries. yeah. did you -- oh, sorry. sure. >> people ask questions about changes that people wanted in currency for a long time, like getting rid of the penny or, you know, going to higher coin denomination and stuff like that. oftentimes, it is easier, on a society level to get young people to make change. i was just wondering when you look at the problems that you
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deal with currency, is there a behavior that you would like to see younger people take on that would be better for currency than maybe -- maybe stubborn older that many stub buborn older people are less inclined to do? >> one of the things, and this isn't exactly currency, but i think to use a phrase that isn't the nicest sounding phrase, cyber hygiene is something that we need to just be much better at. the risks because of the amount of business we do both commercial business, but also personal business, through the internet puts the burden on each of us to take precautions to make sure that we are being careful with how we log on, whether we use the safety precautions that actually can do
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a lot to reduce the risk of somebody either hacking in to or stealing your information. and given the nature of technology, those issues will become more profound, not less row nou profound, over time. because of proliferation of information in cyberspace will only grow. so that's not exactly a currency issue. a few minutes ago i addressed the bitcoin question where which is kind of where currency and cyberspace have met. and that does present challenges in terms of just making sure that there is appropriate ability to track transactions that might not be appropriate or legal. but on a personal level, i think all of us value our privacy and
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we certainly don't want anybody getting access to our financial accounts. and we each have the responsibility to take the precautions we can. and i suspect young people are probably better at that than others, but the rest of husband have to catch on. i'm looking for someone who hasn't asked -- >> you touched earlier on the role of counterfeiting. it goes without saying that especially in our current climate around the world and our role in it, that that is obviously a major national security issue. i was wondering if you could mainly briefly expand on the role of that in terms of what is going on, the threats from foreign governments or from terrorist organizations. >> so counterfeiting is obviously one kind of a threat
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of funding either illicit activity or a terrorist organization. but cash -- legal cash can be used for that purpose, as well. so that is why our ability to -- if you were trying to take a lot of cash out of the bank, it sends up an alert and there is a record of that and it's appropriately noted by the bank and bank regulators. the question about being able to see transactions through electronic means raises the same kind of issue. you don't want to see money transferred to a terrorist organization anonymously. on the other hand, you don't want to have your privacy violated in the process. i think our bank secrecy act
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protections really strike that balance in the current system where i don't think any of us feel particularly violated, the idea that if you take $10,000 out of the bank, the bank notices. one of the risks in the modern world, and i talk to my international colleagues about this, there is a growing recognition that it doesn't take tens of thousands or millions of dollars to acquire the means to do a fair amount of harm. weapons are not that expensive on the international market. so one of the things that i talk to my colleagues about around the world is how do you get visibility into those kinds of transactions. and it's not easy. but it's not just a question of counterfeiting. it's doctwhy we need to have appropriate levels of information exchange by international authorities and appropriate levels of visibility
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into financial transactions. but when the amounts of money are relatively small to acquire a weapon, it just makes the ability to just stop the flow of money that much harder. we have a whole unit at the treasury department that works on terrorism and threat financing and it's probably the most sophisticated unit of that kind in the world. and. >> sacagawea was on the $1 coin and we're talking about a woman who hasn't been on 100 years. is that considered a specialty coin? >> paper currency.
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sacagawea is on the dollar coin. and susan b. anthony is on the dollar coin. but on our paper money, the last image was martha washington in the 19th century. >> i've dealt with a lot of counter fit money working in retail, and i know on the $100 bill, there is a certain mark that you can look at and tell if it's counterfeit if the mark isn't there. but on the $10 bill, there isn't a mark. so will that be remade with the same mark that is on tthe $100 bill? >> the $10 bill is next because it has less security features than the $20 bill or the $50 bill and or the $100 bill.
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and in terms of the number of bills and the number of exposures to counterfeiting, the next bill we need to work on is the $10 bill. >> also the feel of the $10 bill is different than the feel of the $100 bill. >> the $100 bill is our highest technology bill and will has a whole different feel to it. i don't feel that many of them myself. i have more $10 bills in my pocket. >> you're in good company. >> yes. >> i was just a bit curious on where does most of the count counterfeit kourns currency come from, is it mostly smaller organizations or are there large organizations counter fitting on
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a large scale? >> i won't get too specific about where the counterfeiting goes on, but i think it's not just domestic, it's international. and some is pretty sophisticated. so i think if you were doing it on a hard scale, it would be hard to have it look authentic. and there are some pretty sophisticated actors out there which is why we keep trying to stay a step ahead of them. we put features on that they might not understand, we put features on that are hard to produce. someone asked about the cost. it's more expensive to -- if you just had a printing press that was just like putting ink on paper, it's a lot cheaper than putting hollograms and ribbons and threads and electronic things. so if you think of the technology that it takes to make
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our money safe as a real r&d project that's closer to right than if you think about a letter press. because modern money is really a combination of printing and technology. and it's because there are very so phisticated counter fitters who you have to try to stay a step ahead of them. in gentlem this gentleman right over there. >> you speak of democracy, but wouldn't it be better to give the public an array of options to vote on rather than you keeping it internal? >> you you know, we've actually opened this process to the public more than any decision on currency ever has been opened before. you kind of have to have some parameters for a discussion in order to get information that
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you can make a decision with. some suggestions would suggest that it covers most american history in a lot of people's minds. to me, what democracy means is the right we all have to have a voice, the right the we all hav sch-government, the right we have to live where laws are made by elected officials. and that cover as pretty broad span of american history. there are a lot of people, a lot of symbols. in addition to images of people, our currency has traditionally reflected symbols, as well. so when freedom was the theme for the last round of currency, images like the liberty bell were represented on our currency. so this is not just about the face of one person. it is about images, scenes,
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documents, physical things, symbols. and we've gotten more than thousands, we've gotten over a million and a half responses, numbers of suggestions that cover all of the possible images and names. what image, what person, what seen, what group of people. and that's the process we're completing now over these next coming weeks. >> anyone with one last plug? yes. >> since you said there was a list of names, what is the best way for us to get a suggestion to you before the weeks are over? >> you can write to us at the
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new and that is one way. there is also a website where you can log on and social media that you can send to it. so we've gotten ideas through all of these media. and every night i take home a notebook that has a section in it where i get -- i wouldn't say everything. i couldn't read over a million individual entries. but a representation that reflects everything that we've been getting in. so this is an open process. we're looking forward to hearing from you. and i look forward to having this conversation continue until we make a decision and even after. thank you very much. [ applause ] >> i want to thank or nova students and faculty for taking
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your time and i particularly want to thank the secretary of treasury for giving your team to be here at northern virginia community college. we're proud that you've been here today. thank you for being here with us. if you all will, give his team a chance to exit and then we'll all exit afterwards. but again, mr. secretary, thank you again. >> thanks for much for hosting me. it's been great to be here. thank you all for coming. [ applause. >> [ ] >> bill clinton is become on the presidential campaign trail today. he heads out for his firstbill e presidential campaign trail today. he heads out for his first solo events on behalf of hillary clinton. he has stops planned in new hampshire. c-span will have live coverage beginning at 5:15 eastern. afterwards, we'll take your live phone calls. hillary clinton in the meantime is on a two day river to river tour of iowa. tonight on the communicator,
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gary shapiro on the major technology issues he expects in 2016. and why the cta changed its name this past fall to consumer technology soergs. he's joined by politico's technology reporter. >> over 3600 companies and over 2.4 net square feet of exhibit space up from 2015. so it will be spectacular. more innovation, more excitement, more different categories than ever before. it's the future. it's a show where solving problems, real life problems for the world, not just about entertainment, education and information. it's about health care, about transportation, clean food, clean water. greater food production. we're solving big problems with technology. >> tonight at 8:00 eastern on the communicators on c-span2. house subcommittee looking into the government's weather satellite programs and how delays in the launch of
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satellites may potentially hamper accurate forecasting. members heard from an administrator with the national atmospheric and soeshian nick administration along with the representative from the government accountability office. this hearing is about 90 minutes. the subcommittee on the environment and subcommittee on oversight will come to order. without objection, the chair is authorized to declare recesses of the subcommittee at any time. welcome to today's hearing entitled an overview of the nation's weather satellite programs and policies. i'll recognize myself for five minutes for an opening statement and then to the ranking member as well. we've had a number of hearings about all kinds of issues related to satellites from the current programs of record to commercial satellites.
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we've heard testimony about jpss and g.o.e.s. already once this year. this is a second opportunity to do so. some of the concerns that i have are the delay of the g.o.e.s. satellite program from march of 2016 to october of 2016. obviously this is a concern for the weather of our country, being able to predict and forecast accurate and timely weather events, critically important infrastructure for the data that feeds our numerical weather models which keep all of our constituents safe. so this is a good hearing. we have heard testimony before going along with the delay in g.o.e.s., we have an extension of the life expectancy of some of our current programs and we have questions about if that is realistic or not.
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we have seen now noaa 16 break apart in space over thanksgiving, and that gives a lot of us concern about maybe -- it didn't just break apart on itself. i know some have suggested that, but something had to occur whether it was a malfunction on board the satellite even though it was beyond its lifetime or it could have been hit by debris. whatever the case is, it broke apart and now is contributing to more orbital debris which is a concern. that being the case, you think about orbital debris, you think about the satellite that also is coming to the end of its useful life and it's not shielded. it wasn't designed for long-term service. it was designed more for testing and validation. so when you look at the fpp satellite, is it being pelted by debris? is it at risk, and, of course, would that create, you know, a gap as it relates to our polar orbiting satellite programs and
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the challenges that we've had with jpss to date as well. we'd also like to discuss today noaa's commercial space policy with a wonderful start to i think great opportunities for the future to provide more resiliency and redundancy, disaggregated and distributed architectures that the commercial industry can provide to augment our numerical weather models with data coming from the private sector and some of the issues that are going on there, and finally the issues with debris mitigation i think are critically important not only to noaa but to national security space and civil space as well and commercial space. so i'm looking forward to this hearing. looking forward to the testimony of our witnesses, and i'd like to recognize now the ranking member, mr. beyer, for his opening statement. >> thank you, mr. chairman, very much. and thank you chairman bridenstine, chairman loudermilk
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for holding today's hearing. i'd like to thank and welcome or witnesses this morning. as has been stated by the chairman, the goal of the committee's oversight in this area is simple. it's to ensure that both the joint polar satellite system, jpss, and the geostationary operational environment satellites, g.o.e.s., are technically sound and operationally robust when they're completed which we all hope is as soon as possible. satellites have a critical role in weather forecasting, losing coverage of either system could have serious, perhaps catastrophic, effects on public afternoon. unfortunately, noaa's development of both of these satellites has had long and rocky path. they've been plagued by technical issues and management challenges. during the subcommittee's hearing on these projects in february, it seemed jpss was the more troubled of the two, but now it looks like g.o.e.s.-r has been delayed by more than six months. these ongoing delays on these programs increase the cost of the satellites, distort noaa's
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budget and limit the agency's resources for weather forecasting and important research into weather, oceans, and climate science. we know the satellite acquisition is no easy task and these problems are not unique to noaa. they routinely occur in the development of satellite programs by the department of defense, u.s. intelligence community, nasa, but this is an excuse and i believe noaa recognizes this is an unsustainable model and going forward the agency will need to find a more efficient and more reliable means of putting its instruments into orbit. shifting back to the work conducted by mr. powner and his team at gao, it's my understanding since 2012 they have issued 23 recommendations to noaa that they believe will strengthen the agency's acquisition efforts and improve their contingency planning, but to date just six of these recommendations have been implemented. i'm interested in learning more about the remaining recommendations and noaa's progress in addressing them. additionally, i think it's important for congress and this committee to have a clear understanding of noaa's policies
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and planning as it relates to these critical. noaa's decision to change the expected life span of the weather satellites needs to be transparent and clearly documented. noaa satellites also provide the data necessary for our weather models and the critical forecasting and warning products and services provided by the national weather service. in fact, the capabilities of the national weather service are directly dependent on the quality and the success of our satellite programs as well as a highly skilled workforce. so while it's not the focus of today's hearing, i want to mention some important work gao is conducting of behalf of my colleagues. specifically we've been concerned about the number of vacancy that is currently exist if the national weather service field offices and we've asked gao to review present and future staffing levels in order to support the agency's efforts to' involve its operational components and increase its support services. ensuring an adequate workforce is central to achieving noaa's public safety mission.
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we can't afford a weather satellite gap and it's essential noaa keep that's programs on track. i know these are technically difficult and critically important issues noaa needs to address. thank you mr. chairman and mr. chairman. i look forward to today's hearing. >> thank the ranking member for his opening statement. i would like to recognize the chairman of the oversight committee, mr. loudermilk from georgia. >> thank you, mr. chairman. good morning to our witnesses and thank you for being here. mr. chairman, thank you for holding this hearing. today we'll be hearing from gao and noaa regarding the polar orbiting and geostationary satellite programs. the jpss and g.o.e.s.-r program have experienced setbacks. we intend to learn what has changed since our last hearing in february. earlier this year gao published a report detailing its concerns that the noaa polar satellite program is facing an unprecedented gap in satellite
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data. gao believes while jpss remains within its new life cycle cost estimates and scheduled baselines, recent rises in component costs and technical issues during development increase the likelihood of a near-term data gap. additionally, although noaa has reduced its estimated potential gap from 15 to only 3 months, gao noted that this assessment was based on incomplete data and does not account for the risk posed by space debris to satellite hardware. this is even more concerning given that the recent breakup of a retired noaa satellite in orbit. gao estimated that in its report that a data gap may occur earlier. more troubling is the potential data gap facing noaa's g.o.e.s.-r program. since its inception the g.o.e.s.-r program has undergone significant increases in cost and reductions in scope and as gao report indicates, noaa has yet to reverse or even halt this trend as we have seen with the most recent delay to the launch pushing a march 2016 launch date back to october 2016. this means we could be facing a
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long period without a backup satellite in orbit. history has shown us that backups are sometimes necessary to reduce risk to public safety and the economy. >> in 2008 and 2012 the agency was forced to use backup satellites to cover problems with operational, a solution we may once again find ourselves needing. when talking about consequences in the thought of extreme weather on the ground. however, professional and personal experience shows me allows me to discuss the impact of gap weather data on aviation weather. as a private pilot i know the importance of having accurate and timely weather forecasts to assess flying conditions. pilots require accurate weather data to evaluate conditions on the ground and in the sky throughout the entire flight process from takeoff to landing. without accurate data a pilot
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runs risk of what we call getting behind the plane. a general aviation phrase which means the plane is responding to the conditions and the pilot is responding to the plane. a situation that spells trouble for even the most seasoned pilots. experience as a pilot does not exempt someone from getting behind the plane as weather deteriorates. as i have conducted many search and rescue missions over the years, even led some of those, and without exception every missing aircraft that we ended up finding as a result of weather resulted in a fatality. we were basically taking remains home to the family so they could be comforted they were found. your experience doesn't matter, even the most experienced aviators, when they get in a weather situation, it can spell disaster. one of those being scott crossfield, a pioneer in aviation in america. he was the second to break the sound barrier.
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we conducted a search and rescue mission to find the remains of his plane as it broke up in a thunderstorm over northeast georgia. my personal experience as well, once flying to florida, i was -- had accurate satellite weather data in the cockpit with me which showed thunderstorms coming off the gulf of mexico. i was able to accurately determine not only that i should be able to beat the thunderstorm into my destination but also alternate airports to my west that were clear and available. without that, i could have ended up in a very difficult situation or not made it to my destination. as i was flying in, i also heard of other pilots who didn't have that information with mayday calls being into the weather. with our reliance on gps weather data, mr. chairman, i'm afraid that without accurate weather these incidents would be more frequent.
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from this perspective you can see how a gap in weather data and consequently less accurate forecasts could negatively affect not only commercial flight safety but also the $1.5 trillion in total economic activity that the aviation industry contributes to the national economy. i hope that today's hearing will shed some light on the complex schedule and cost demands facing noaa's weather satellite programs and that the subcommittees will walk away with -- better equipped to consider these issues moving forward. mr. chairman, i know as an aviator yourself you understand this as well and i yield back the balance of my time. >> i'd like to thank chairman loudermilk for his comments. certainly i have been in those situations myself, and i appreciate your testimony on them. let me introduce our witnesses. our first witness today is dr. stephen volz, assistant administrator of national environmental satellite data and information services at noaa. dr. volz has a ph.d. in experimental condensed matter physics from the university of illinois, champaign.
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at bachelor in physics from illinois and the university of virginia. our second witness is mr. david powner, director of information technology management issues at the gao. mr. powner received his bachelor's degree in business administration from the university of denver and attended the senior executive fellows program at harvard. in order to allow time for discussion, please limit your testimony to five minutes. your entire written statement will be made a part of the record, and we on this committee have mostly probably already read it. i now recognize dr. volz for five minutes to present his testimony. >> good morning, chairman, ranking member beyer, and members of the subcommittees. thank you for the invitation to participate in today's hearing and discuss the status of noaa's satellite programs. as many of you have mentioned noaa provides environmental intelligence in a global way that is timely, accurate, actionable, and reliable. space-based information to citizens, communities, and
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businesses as they need to stay safe and to operate efficiently. the noaa satellite portfolio provides continuous satellite data that are integral to weather forecasting and noaa working with nasa conducts essential satellite development to ensure continuity of this critical service. >> our current satellites provide on a 24/7 basis the space based weather data required to support noaa's national weather service as well as the private weather industry and many other users who rely on those services as well. the geostationary satellites currently in orbit g.o.e.s. east and g.o.e.s. west to provide constant monitoring from the atlantic ocean, the continental united states, hawaii, the pacific ocean for weather and are backed up by a fully functioning spare satellite situated in between them ready to provide backup in the event of a significant satellite anomaly to either of the others. we're working to an october 2016 launch for the next generation launch.
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while we are working diligently towards this date, there are risks ahead of us to get this launched on time. noaa and nasa are working with contractors to identify and mitigate risks applying all appropriate resources and expertise to meet this important launch milestone. to that end, we are monitoring the health of our current on orbit assets to ensure we maximize their operational utility until the g.o.e.s.-r series satellites are launched, checked out, and placed into operations. meanwhile, while that is going on with the flight hardware, the ground system for g.o.e.s.-r and the user community continue to prepare for the launch and rapid exploitation of the new data stream once it begins. from the polar orbiting satellites, the first satellite of the jpss program is performing exceptionally as noaa's primary afternoon polar satellite. four years into its operating mission, the high resolution sounders are continuously providing essential observations feeding the national weather
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service's numerical weather prediction models and ultimately the weather forecast we all depend on. the imagery has brought much improved imagery of sea ice. weather observations from polar orbiting satellites are particularly important in alaska and the polar region where is geostationary satellites cannot effectively observe. no later than in march 2016 the second satellite of the gpss program, jpss 1, will be launched providing global coverage. jpss 2 continues in development, managed expertly by a nasa and noaa team, and is proceeding on schedule for a late '21 launch as well. noaa's observing system includes beyond these two systems the jason 2 and discovery satellites and soon will include jason 3, a cosmic two and hopefully the cooperative research search and
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rescue mission. these smaller and more focused missions provide essential environmental observations augmenting and complementing the polar and geostationary platforms. in all of these systems, noaa draws extensively on the expertise of academia and private industry, relies heavily on productive partnerships with other u.s. agencies including specifically the u.s. air force and nasa, and on international agencies and the national space organization of taiwan to meet our observing needs. we also are expanding our approach to access to space through the commercially hosted payload approach to find more efficient method of access to space.ñ8÷ in closing, since joining noaa just over a year ago, i have continued to work the work standard by my predecessors to are build the robustness. our current satellites are aging but are generally healthy as they continue to provide the observations enabling noaa's weather and environmental monitoring mission.
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we are making steady progress to launch the next generation of polar and geostationary satellites in the coming year to continue and improve the reliability and quality of these earth observations. noaa works closely with nasa our acquisition agent and with our industry and academic partners to implement proven development processes so we can meet our critical mission milestones. decisions are continuously made by individuals, governments, and businesses based on the weather forecasts. space-based observations are vital to the ability of congressional weather providers to deliver those forecasts and noaa values the long-standing interest of the committee in our satellite programs and we appreciate the congressional support to ensure these critical national weather programs achieve a robust state that is needed to supported nation's weather center price. thank you and i look forward to the conversation. >> thank you for your testimony, dr. volz. you were right on the five-minute mark which is what we expect from our noaa and former nasa folks. so thank you for that. mr. powner, you are recognized for five minutes.
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>> chairman bridenstine, loudermilk, ranking member beyer, and members of the subcommittee, earlier this year we testified on the g.o.e.s. and jpss satellite acquisitions. at that time we expressed concern about the g.o.e.s. march date and potential gaps in satellite coverage. the g.o.e.s. launch date has been delayed again. i will provide updates on both acquisitions by displaying three graphics which highlight key launch dates, many of which have been recently extended. on first graphic it displays the three g.o.e.s. satellites currently in space. first bar is g.o.e.s. 13 which covers the earn half of the united states, the third bar is g.o.e.s. 15, which covers the western half. the middle bar is g.o.e.s. 14 which is your on orbit spare. noaa's policy is to have an on orbit spare if something goes
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wrong with one of the operational satellites. the red bar represent an extension to the life span of the operational satellites from the last time we testified. when asked what this was based on, we were given a 2005 document supporting the life span extension. so a key question is why noaa did not disclose this life span extension sooner. i'll add that in noaa's 2016 budget submission, these red extensions were not included on their fly out charts. this is an area where noaa needs to be more open and transparent with the congress, especially since longer life spans effect the timing of future launches and the annual funding of these satellites as i will get into on the next chart. before we leave this chart, i'd like to comment on there have been problems with g.o.e.s. 13 that have been mentioned and the backup has been moved into operation several times. also currently a key sensor on g.o.e.s. 13 has not been working since november 20th. moving to the next chart, what this next chart does, first three bars are basically just replicate what you just saw with
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the extended life span. the fourth bar represents g.o.e.s.-r and the delay in the launch to october 2016. i have three comments on this chart. first, the g.o.e.s.-r bar, the fourth bar down, the delay occurred due to technical problems in about two years of extremely poor schedule performance. the program was losing about ten days per month for a 24-month period. mr. chairman, in our opinion, noaa should have more clearly disclosed the poor scheduled performance to this committee. my second point is the potential gap in backup coverage. the gold vertical bar here represents this projected gap. g.o.e.s. 13, even with the life span expansion, reaches the end of its useful life about mid-2016, and '14 and '15 are your operational satellites. so there is no backup in orbit from mid-2016 until g.o.e.s.-r
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launches and performs a six-month check up through until march or april of 2017. and if the g.o.e.s. october 2016 launch date is not met, this gap in backup coverage becomes even greater. my third and final point on this chart is the final two bars, g.o.e.s. "s" and "t." we agree both g.o.e.s. and jpss need robust constellations to ensure coverage and this is exactly why we placed potential gaps and weather satellites on gao's high-risk list in january 2013. but extending these life spans requires a relook at the timing about your satellites. with the third chart i'd like to move the discussion from g.o.e.s. to jpss, the polar satellites. as you can see here, the red arrow represents a four-year life span extension on npp, the current operational polar satellite in the afternoon
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orbit. we question whether this should extend to 2020, given noaa's latest analysis supporting this. however, the good news here with jpss is there is an annual review that is used to update the polar satellite life spans, unlike the g.o.e.s. programs. regarding the j-1 launch, the middle bar here, of march 2017, we are more concerned about this date than we have been prior. key reasons are continued delays in the delivery of the key instrument atms, continued delays in the ground system, and continued problems with the component on the spacecraft. and finally on the chart, we think there is increased risk with j-2 since we have a new spacecraft contractor. on g.o.e.s. the story was that the performance will greatly improve with the delivery of the second g.o.e.s. because there was a fair amount of learning with the first. it seems odd that that same logic wouldn't be applied to the second jpss satellite. in conclusion, noaa needs to be more transparent on risks and satellite life spans, there needs to be a consistent policy to evaluate satellite life spans, and we still have major
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concerns with the backup, the gap in the backup for g.o.e.s.-r, and also between npp and jpss-1. but after g.o.e.s.-r and jpps-1 launch, given noaa's recent extensions, we're really not concerned about gaps after that point. in fact, congress might have opportunities to reduce annual expenditures on these programs in upcoming years. i look forward to your questions. >> thank you, mr. powner, for your testimony. i recognize myself for five minutes for questions. i just wanted to go back to dr. volz. the commercial space policy i think is a great starting point. i think there's more information that needs to be forthcoming on how to actually interact with noaa on the commercial capabilities that are out there right now.
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one of my questions is, right now when it comes to gps radio occultation, we already have one company with satellites in space that are being tested and validated through ucar, and we have other companies that are going to be launching next year numerous satellites into space. we heard testimony from you and it's in your written testimony as well about the cosmic program. when we think about commercial the 2010 space policy, commercial space policy, would it not be appropriate to take advantage of these commercial opportunities rather than continue to develop cosmic for however many millions of dollars that that's going to take? >> so related to the value -- the capabilities of the oncoming commercial capability, you mentioned we do have assets now in space. spire is one organization that has launched some satellites and there are several others likely to launch in the near term.
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and from the noaa perspective we're very interested in seeing the performance of these satellites demonstrated on orbit. the cosmic program that was launched first in 2006 and has been flying for many years providing radio occultation to noaa and integrated into our numerical weather models is a proven and demonstrated performance capability that we have been taking advantage of. the cosmic 2 is an extension of that and we expect when launch occurs in about a year to add that, those observations, into our data system. the value, the potential value, of these new commercial ventures are very high, but it's still potential, and i see we should be engaged with them. we should be watching and observing and analyzing the data that comes from them once we develop the appropriate interaction engagement mechanism. it should be compared against some standard, some measurement capability that we have as well with cosmic already. i think both hand is the approach i would take in approaching these.
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i think we need the cosmic 2 because it continues necessary measurement and it will provide an excellent benchmark and comparison for these alternative approaches which use the same method, same measurement technique, but different implementation. validating those on-orbit activities and observations will be key as we go forward and i look forward to the opportunity to do that. >> your boss manson brown last month in d.c. at a business roundtable mentioned he supports a line item in the president's budget request for a tech demonstration of commercial satellite weather data. do you also support a line item for commercial satellite weather data? >> i support my boss, which is a good start. i do support the principle that we do need a focused effort to demonstrate the capability of these operations. so yes, i would support that. we've been working with noaa, with the commercial policy that went out and is now being reviewed for updates. on the nesda side as we do implementation, we've been working on an engagement process
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for how we would work with industry, work with potential vendors, to provide data, to secure data, to evaluate the data when it comes in, decide whether it's capable of support the long term operational contract or contractual mechanism. we had a workshop this monday which was well attended by all of the -- at least three of the radio occultation providers to talk about how we can have a productive interaction and how we can have a relationship going forward to support exactly that, which would be a demonstration project which could lead to a sustained operational delivery of data. >> the line item manson brown talked about, any idea what that dollar amount would be that's going to be in the president's budget request? >> i would be speaking from one half of the equation if i knew. i know what it takes for me to develop a satellite, to develop and process the data. what it would take for us to evaluate and process the data. as far as what the commercial side would need as investment or
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procurement is the part we have to explore. i'm not sure what would be the appropriate price point for our vendors to make their business models close because obviously that's a very proprietary element. it's an engagement we need to have to get a better feel for that. >> i would encourage you to engage with those vendors. the great thing for the taxpayer and for the people on this committee is that those commercial vendors are launching into space right now with clients that aren't necessarily noaa and that gives us an opportunity to share the costs so that it's not just the u.s. government taking on the burden but also transportation companies, agricultural companies, insurance companies, et cetera, that are interested in this kind of data. so the price point may be a lot less than what we anticipate. and the idea that they're making the business case without the government involved is positive as well. which only makes it that much more interesting for us to be willing to reach out and purchase that data. i am out of jg
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i recognize the ranking member, mr. beyer, for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman, very much. dr. volz, i have a culture question for you and it's not a hostile question. just to warn you up front. mr. powner talked about "extremely poor schedule performance" on one aspect of this. i read all rick atkinson's trilogy on the war in europe, world war ii, and eisenhower again and again gave impossible time lines to his generals for invasions of north africa, sicily, italy, and normandy. you read walter isaacson's book on steve jobs, jobs again and again gave his team impossible tasks. so the question is, does noaa search, do people work nights and weekends, is there a sense of urgency about these things, and how is that urgency modeled by the leadership?
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or is it business as usual, people come in at 9:00 monday morning and go home at 5:00 on friday afternoon? >> so to -- starting with the ending of what you just stated, i've not seen a more dedicated team working on any program than i've seen on g.o.e.s. and jpss. that's independent of whether they're nasa, noaa, lockheed martin, or any of our vendors. there's no sense of casual execution of the program. there's a strong dedication of the mission and the time and effort they put into it, well beyond what i could ever expect to tell them to do. so your observation related to, is it a culture of setting unrealistic deadlines and expectations? we're very sensitive -- i'm very sensitive to that. if you set a schedule which is unachievable from day one, nobody treats it seriously. if i'm already behind the eight-ball, it doesn't matter if i work extra or not. it has a negative impact i think on performance. on g.o.e.s.-r, when we set up the program some time ago, we
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have standard methodologies within nasa and noaa about cost confidence and schedule confidence and probability of success. it's called a joint confidence level, jcl for cost and schedule. there's usually an acceptance that you budget to a 70% confidence which means 7 of 10 missions will meet or exceed that, and 3 out of 10 will need more time or more money or both. so when we went -- that's sort of the baseline approach. assuming that you will perform to that. on g.o.e.s. we chose a more -- sometimes you choose a more aggressive schedule for a planetary mission because off tight window for launch. we chose to proceed from confirmation to first delivery on a 50% thereabouts confidence schedule. knowing it was aggressive but not unachievable because we understood the criticality of getting this measurement on orbit. because we thought we would challenge ourselves and track our performance against that. we never sacrificed the performance during that process. we didn't skip tests we thought were important or necessary in order to achieve that.
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we tracked then a reserve depletion over time. the negative performance two years, mid '13 to mid '15 were strong, we were not meeting our schedule. but we were still meeting the earliest schedule we could achieve. >> let me fit in one more question in here, dr. volz. mr. powner -- the georgia made 11 recommendations regarding jpss and noaa has only implemented two of them. and 12 recommendations regarding g.o.e.s.-r and noaa's implemented four of those. can you explain the gap between the recommendations made by gao and the ability to respond to them. >> a lot of the recommendations are addressing the gap. i think a lot of them are in flight. they're not fully wrapped up yet. so we want to see more of that done to address a lot of the gaps. i think the issue with this, with this poor schedule performance, whether it's achievable or not, i think we need to be more open with our risks.
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so when we were here in february talking about missed milestones on the g.o.e.s. program, we didn't think they were going to hit that launch date of march 2016, and noaa had data saying that we had poor schedule performance for two years, our point is that you need to be open with your risks in order to hit your dates. when you're open with your risks -- and i know this committee has been very supportive of noaa to ensure that these satellites get up there on time. we need to collectively work on these risks and be open with them so we can all collectively address the issues that are at hand. >> thank you. very quickly, dr. volz, on the life plan extension, mr. powner talked about noaa should have disclosed that sooner, that data has been around since 2005. it almost, if i were a skeptical person, i'd think we'd extended the life span in order to make sure we don't look like there's a gap. can you explain? >> the particular study mr. powner mentioned was a study expect the instruments to last longer than the contractual lifetime. but that's only a piece of the
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puzzle that we use when we calculate and we estimate the projected future life of a mission. one of the other pieces which really required the expenditure of time was with the g.o.e.s.-nop is to see how those satellites operate on orbit. this was the first flight of the boeing 601 bus in a geostationary operation like we had for g.o.e.s.-nop. we need to see when we have a new satellite time on orbit to see how it's going to operate, what its performance is going to be, are we going to see life-limiting features start to develop. it took many years of watching those satellites to operate from '06, '08, '09 when they were launched to develop a confidence in the family of satellite buses so we could then say, now i'm comfortable saying the projection life will be longer than it is. that's where we came to about this time last year. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> i'll recognize the gentleman from georgia, the chairman of the oversight committee, mr. loudermilk, for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i want to continue on with the line of questioning that my good friend, mr. beyer, brought up.
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mr. powner, you brought up the slides and the charts indicating the lifecycle, the launch dates, and now we're extending the lifespan and the useful life of the -- both satellite programs. it's been extended by three years. and dr. volz, you just mentioned that there was other data that was considered beyond just the 2005 documents that was provided to this committee. one question, why was only the 2005 document provided to this committee when we requested data to back up why you're extending the lifespan of these satellites? >> actually, sir, in the submission in response to the letter we received, we submitted that study. but also in analysis of explanation of how we did use the on-orbit performance validation of these instruments over time and the satellites over time as one of the
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rationales for extension. also what we also provide on a regular basis is monthly status reports in all of our satellites, we provide a couple of examples of the statusing of every subsystem in the spacecraft we do on a routine basis. while we haven't provided that, and that's a good point mr. powner made, we haven't provided a regular routine mechanism for what the general health is of all our satellites. one of the observations i had to my team is we should be doing that on an annual basis at least providing an update of the health of our constellations overall, so we don't have a ten-year cycle for updating lifetimes. we talk about it on a regular basis as part of our annual reporting. >> so is the studies that you're referencing as extensive as what was done in 2005? >> no, the study in 2005 was specific request to itt, the instrument vendor who built the sounder imageer for the g.o.e.s.-nop series and the previous ones as well. the study was specifically directed to say although the instrument was designed for a specific lifetime what does the
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vendor think of that instrument lasting past, well past that lifetime? we really had to go to the vendor who built it, who knew all the parts, saying what do you think analytically prelaunch these things are likely to see? that's one piece of the very specific analysis. the operations team looks at all the operating performance of a series of satellites and watches each of those on a day to day, month to month basis, from that develops statistical understanding of the likelihood of continued operation of features that may show up, initial wear factors in the spacecraft that we need to understand as they age on orbit. different kinds of studies. >> so the information you provided the committee said that increasing lifespan of the satellite by three years is plausible. >> i think that's reasonable way to put it, yes, sir. >> the definition of plausible has three definitions. possibly true, believable, or realistic. which one of those is it?
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possibly true? believable? or realistic? >> i'm not sure they're all mutually exclusive. i would say it's a realistic assessment based on the knowledge we have that these are likely to survive through this period. >> okay. so with that, by expanding it by three years, are we increasing the likelihood that we could have a data gap? >> relying on aging assets for a longer period of time is a riskier approach than i would like to take for sure, sir. i would prefer to have g.o.e.s.-r up there in march of 2016 as opposed to october of 2016. >> we want it to be a g.o.e.s.-r, not a ghost. >> i would also want it to be a g.o.e.s.-r that's functioning, capable, tested out, not a g.o.e.s.-r that's rushed so that it may have failures, it may have shortcomings or testing incompleteness that we had to do in order to get it to launch. >> i fully concur. mr. powner, would you like to weigh in on the feasibility or increasing the possibility of a
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data gap? >> clearly there's a -- the gap on the g.o.e.s. constellation. the potential for gap is high -- you can see from the chart there. there's a likelihood we're going to have that situation. i think the key with the extension of these life spans, no one needs to have a very clear policy on how they evaluate these constellations. i know we start with design lives. then we evaluate the reliability and availability of constellation through detailed analysis. on jpss they do a very good job. we have an annual update. on g.o.e.s. we don't see it. i think there ought to be some consistency here. when you start moving these life spans it really affects the timing of when we build and launch these future satellites and we all know these two programs consume a large part of noaa's budget. maybe you could slow that down and budget could be used for
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other things. i'm not saying these aren't important, they are. but there's implications to moving these lifespans out. you can't just move them out and say build them as quick as we have with the original plan. >> mr. chairman, i see my time is up. i would like to add that fiscal responsibility, efficiency, taking care of taxpayer money, is very important. we're talking about an issue that can deal with the safety and the lives of others. so i yield. >> i'd like to thank the chairman and for dr. volz, we understand you've been doing this job now just over a year. these challenges have been developing over time. we know you're working really hard to make sure that these issues are addressed. from our perspective, just real quick before i hand it over to mr. bera. from our perspective we learn that there's going to be a delay in the launch for g.o.e.s.-r and
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at the same time we learn that we're going to extend the life of another satellite, we're going to predict it's going to last longer. it looks like it could be intentional we're just extending it so we can get to the next launch. i'm not saying that happened, i'm saying as mr. powner said, if there's more transparency, if we knew that well ahead of time, it wouldn't have appeared this way. so just -- i'm sharing my sentiments on that. so transparency helps us and we want to help you. so i turn it over to my friend from california, mr. bera. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank the ranking member. when i think about weather forecasting, thinking about this with my district, state, much of the american west in mind, because we're going through a devastating drought right now. the fourth year of historic and unprecedented drought. when i think about my district, folsom lake which supplies drinking water for close to 500,000 people in my region. historic low right now. just having the predictability of weather is going to be incredibly important because, again, in california and in
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sacramento, we have this dual risk. we have years where we have incredibly high flood risk. and then obviously now we're living through this drought. so better forecasting allows us to better mansion a precious asset, water. and that's why i share the concern of my colleagues here. if there is a gap in that ability, that does put us at risk, puts the nation at risk. it really does make it difficult to manage. i'm going to shift a little bit. if, in fact, there is a gap, we know there's commercial weather satellites out there that are providing commercial data. is that true, dr. volz? >> i don't know of any commercial assets that are providing equivalent data and observations to the nature of what we provide that support our weather services. so there may be specific measurements that might be available but in general there are no commercial assets of equivalent or capable nature.
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>> there's no commercial backup that would be available. noaa's data that comes from g.o.e.s. and other satellites, that's publicly available to anyone who wants it? or is that -- >> correct. >> so it's a public asset? >> correct, sir. >> that's available to anyone around the world? >> correct. just as other nations' assets and measurements are available to us. it's a global cooperation sharing agreement on observations for climate. >> that would be a critical asset for the common good? >> yes, sir, entirely so. >> if we think about commercialization then and this data -- if we were to shift from a public expenditure for the common good to more commercialization of this data, is there a risk that that's no longer available, folks have to pay, subscribe, et cetera? is that going to -- >> there is a perception, there
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is -- the approach noaa has that we have is weather services that we provide, the observations that feed those, are a public good and are necessary for the health, safety, and security of our nation, for its citizens. the idea of commercial available data sets are not necessarily at odds with public services provided by noaa. if we can find the right terms and conditions for which to work with the commercial side to use their data in our models, in our operations. data which is restricted, only available to individuals, would not be something consistent with that approach, not something we would support. doesn't mean commercial vendors can't make observations and sell them any way they want, that's fine, that's certainly open to anybody. >> again, from my perspective, there is some concern that if we're taking the taxpayer assets and then contracting that out to commercial vendors to replace some of the work that noaa's doing, you over time can lose the ability of this public good,
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this common good, data set, and i don't know if that's a concern that folks at noaa have. >> that would definitely be a concern. if our ability to deliver on the services and observations necessary for health and safety and aviation safety and all other operations we do is restricted because the funds are diverted to a different approach, which is proprietary and controlled in a different way, that would be a negative approach that we would not support and i don't support. >> with knowing that, when we look at space exploration, there's what is ongoing both at nasa and what we're talking about here at noaa, this public/private partnership that is emerging. if you're kind of forecasting where weather forecasting -- a little oxymoron there -- but if we're predicting where weather forecasting is going, what do you see this commercial public/private partnership in the near future? >> similar to what you
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referenced on the nasa side, there are features, there are capabilities, that we already rely on heavily on the commercial side to provide. for the most part, we don't build our launch vehicles, commercial do that. we don't build our own space group, we go to commercial vendors for that. all the instruments we buy are from commercial vendors. there's an extensive public/private engagement in the execution of our weather services. what we're talking about is the potential next step, securing data as opposed to capabilities we deploy and i think there is an opportunity for us to do that in a way which doesn't sacrifice the public goods i mentioned a few moments ago. so i think -- and as the commercial sector becomes more capable and delivers and is able to deliver a more quality products, a data product, i think there's certainly a possibility for strong engagement that can fit within our business model and can support a commercial sector better. >> great. thank you. nice to see you. i'll yield back. >> i recognize the gentleman from ohio, mr. johnson, for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman, and, gentlemen, thank you for being
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here with us this morning. dr. volz, how many of the viable u.s. commercial providers for satellite data do you intend to bring under contract in the next three to five years? >> that's a very open-ended question. depends on resources, depends on how many actually apply for a particular -- if we go out with an rfp -- >> how many do you need to bring under? how many do you want to bring under? >> i'm more concerned with getting a data flow, to getting the operational data i need. if we go through with an approach, a pilot approach, and flñ quality set of information we need, that we can use that is correct meets our criteria, and that is financially viable, that's a satisfactory result for me. if i get three or four competing and they're all providing something i can afford to support several because i need the data from several, i can support that as well subject to availability of funds and the cost points on these vendors. >> okay. has noaa done a cost benefit
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analysis of gap mitigation alternatives to determine which ones are likely to be the most effective and worthy of investment? >> when we went through the gap analysis and the exercises in 2011, '12 and '13, we had a report called the riverside report, i imagine you've already read, which identified a number of mitigation approaches to lessen the impact of loss of a major asset. we selected a number of those to complete. we did not do -- and have been executing on those mitigation approaches. we did not do an allocation of one through n to say which is the most effective but we saw the observing system and applied those that are possible to impact and in effect have been working on those. >> why do you not see the need to do the mitigation to look at most effective? >> well, i would say that we did that, i wouldn't say -- it is hard to do a measurement of this
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to see what relies on multiple analysis. i would say probably the difficult of doing a cost-benefit process when the output is the value of a weather product, which three to five day, three to seven day forecast, it's very hard to quantify the value of that from a cost approach. we do look at the efficacy of the approaches. is it a necessary part to address a particular measurement capability and we didn't prioritize, we put our efforts and attempts into working on those more importantly. >> sure. as a general aviation pilot myself, i can tell you that the accuracy of that data and the ability to look out and get those accurate forecasts, both near term and long term, are important. have any studies been performed on the cost benefits and tradeoffs between different
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potential launch dates for the later satellite, such as goes-u or gps-4? >> yes, sir, and that brings up the excellent point that was brought up earlier. what can we do in the latter years, once we get to a robust state, which is established by getting those launched, do we have to launch t and u on a rapid timeframe? the answer is probably not. we would launch on need at some point when we get to that. so we have looked at two comparisons here. one is the cost of storage. if we build and then store. and the other is the cost impacts of delaying the development. and we have the assessments, and based on industry assessments and industry models of the efficiency of building four in a rapid sequence is more effective in terms of buying the parts and getting the workforce engaged and the buying down risk of the implementati implementation, than building one, waiting a year, building a second and then waiting a third. we have seen examples of the build first launch later if necessary has a certain cost benefit from the build and
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development cycle. and a significant risk benefit because you buy down the risk by building them all at the same time when you have the parts and the availability and the engineering. >> okay. all right. earlier this year your office hosted a community engagement workshop to inform outside groups and the commercial sector of progress. noaa has made in incorporating commercial technologies and this week you hosted such another event. what updates occurred between the previous workshop held in april and the one this week, what did you learn? >> in the april workshop we talked about the principles and the engagement of desires, what we would like to do in the future. in the workshop this week, we spent a great deal of time talking about the actual process by which we would use data, how data are used from observation to services and products so that we were very clear, very articulate, in trying to explain
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and discern how the data was used in our systems and how different vendors can tailor their business models to deliver data to us at different places in our value chain. >> okay. are you talkin individual companies as well to get a broader perspective? >> we have gone out asking for generation technology approaches that they think are worthy of investment or ready for application, ready for primetime as operational. we have not, in terms of the overall engagement, we have talked on a one-on-one basis. i have not but some of my staff has on where they are keeping us informed on where they are in the development cycle and where we are in the process cycle. in general, i'm trying to talk to them all at once to have the workshops on a regular basis. so everybody can see where we are as we move forward. >> mr. chairman, i yield back. >> i now recognize the weather
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guru from california, mr. perlmutter. i warn the witnesses -- >> colorado. >> colorado. from colorado. i would warn the witnesses that his jacket is off and his sleeves are rolled up. >> thank you, mr. chairman. and thanks for holding this committee hearing. and to you two gentlemen, thank you for being here again. these are very important assets of the united states. as was said dealing with life, limb and property as well as science. and, you know, i think i mentioned the last time you were here, i've been working on this since 2009 and 2010 with n-post. and what i would like to do is sort of go back to basics and understand the structure, the decision-making structure here. so i come from a construction family. and if -- with respect to jpss and the go systems, am i correct
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when i look at it as noaa is the owner, nasa is sort of the general contractor, and then the private companies, the lockheeds, the balls, the orb by tal atks are in effect the subcontractors. is that a fair way to describe this? and this is to both of you. dr. volz. >> yes, but noaa is the owner but also the architect. so the architect doesn't just give the plans and walk away. the architect is there with the general contractor and is there when the general contractor sometimes is talking to his subcontractors, to make sure that what he had in mind in the architecture is what is being implemented. so that's the role noaa plays. we do not have the engineering depth nasa has. we rely on that depth. but we're there with the requirements, with the user community interfaces so we know what the enuse is with every one of the observations which allows us to work hand and glove with nasa and the major
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contractors to make sure that end use is kept in mind as you go through the whole development process. >> i would just add that the contracting situation with the spacecraft, each sensor and the ground component, they all have prime contractors and subs. so you have many contractors and subcontractors involved with each of the many components. >> the reason i'm asking that question is because, whether it was n pose or now goes and jpss, there is a little separation between noaa as the owner architect, if you will, and the general contractor, nasa. before it was noaa and the air force. and we've had, i mean, obviously we wouldn't be here if we weren't having some delays and some hiccups in how these things are proceeding. and sometimes i feel like noaa, you know, gets hammered when, in fact, it's been the air force or
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nasa that has caused some of the hiccups. and they're not sitting here today. am i mistaken in that at all? >> the -- i think we can go too far with the analogy between n pose and where we are now. i believe in n pose days there was a greater separation between the different owners and executors of the program, which led to some of the disconnect, some of the problems. the requirements flowed down to implementation was much more complex under n pose than it is now. i believe with the nasa/noaa relationship and the contractor relationship we have with nasa/noaa we have much better connectivity across that line. there are leads and follows but it's much better than it has been in the past. >> let me tell you where i'm going because i'll run out of time. as a coloradoan, we were disappointed when ball didn't get the follow-ones in the jpss program nasa was the acquisition point person or point agency and
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obviously the contractor there. what i'm concerned about is just, a mr. powdner was saying, the navy has a very good system of building submarines. they do have an assembly line approach. and given the fact that we have had these delays, dr. volz to you but more to mr. powdner, shouldn't we try to be doing something with these satellites so you can get them done in a way that's timely, that's well tested? am i making a mistake here? >> no. i think you have a perfect example between goes and jpss. in ha it is -- if you are building a series or fleet, it does make sense to define the requirements once and do the implementation once. that's where we are now and how we set it up with the goes program. you still have problems, that's why we're here. we are still discussing the issues with the goez program but
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we hope to overcome them. with the jpss program, we did not have that same construct. we were building them one at a time and there were definitely significant inefficiencies in doing it that way. whether it's an intentional change in a major subcontract like the spacecraft from bolero air space to ltk or to the production lines changing and the capabilities that the subcontractors change out and you can't control it. so one at a time, you are definitely setting yourself up for that risk and approach. that's one of the reasons this pfo, the follow-on to jpss, is intended to happen at once, will minimize the risk of implementation. >> we have had a lot of delays on these programs. i don't know why you would add more risk, that was our point on j-2. especially when we sat down on goes and the delays and said, okay, what's going to be different with your schedule performance?
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and they said, we learned a lot. and second, we'll be a lot better at it. well, don't you think that logic probably applies to j2? there's a lot of issues on j1. work arounds with subcontractors and the whole bit. ball aero can lay out those things. a new contractor doesn't have all the history going for it, so we think there's risk with that shift and we're looking for more continuity where we get an assembly line here. >> thank you, mr. chair. >> i would like to thank the man from colorado. i recognize the gentleman from texas, mr. bavin. >> thank you, mr. chair. thank you, witnesses. dr. volz, if the government has weather or climate missions that you can catch a ride on the commercial satellite to benefit of all parties, it would seem to be a cost effective and sustainable option.
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has noaa taken advantage of the host and payload options for weather or climate missions? if so, why or why not? >> you're correct. if we can find a ride, it's an appropriate -- and that meets the requirement and is appropriate and a more efficient way to do it. we are suggesting and proposing that approach for our search and rescue and ads systems it's coupled cdars. our commercial spacecraft, not just launch vehicles, yes. >> okay, thank you. and again, since the president's fiscal year 2016 budget requests, excuse me, transfers responsible for developing climate instruments and climate satellites from noaa to nasa, will noaa funds that were meant to pay for such instruments and satellites stay within noaa for use in gap mittation efforts? or will they be transferred to nasa to offset the cost of their development?
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and what effect will this have on nasa's budget? please provide the funding committee with a breakout of how this arrangement would look. >> i would be happy to. looking at the transition from things from noaa to nasa, there were no funds transferred from noaa to nasa. there were no funds allocated. we were underfunded on the noaa side. it was a prioritization question. the concern was they would have been left off the table. it was both a question of focus and letting nasa do the climate but also the inability on our side to support those programs at the -- because we had to support the primary weather mission, that was our focus. >> okay. then mr. powdner, you seem to have major concerns about noaa's transparency and openness with congress.
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what are the key issues that drive for your concerns here? >> we had a hearing in february on these two programs and then what happened was the life span extension occurred in april. the flyout charts changed in april. and we think if a major concern occurs like that, this committee should be informed. that's one example. the other example is the scheduled performance could have been disclosed much more directly and openly to this committee when we had that hearing in february. >> absolutely. mr. volz, would you like to comment on that? >> sure. on the first one, the flyout chart change, that's on me. as i came in from nasa, i remember looking at the flyout charts over the years and trying to understand, you know, what the logic was in those and brought in with my experience, there are different analyses, different approaches to assessing the extended life since i had done that many years at nasa that would be applicable i thought to these systems and these programs.
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that's what i asked for. i probably was -- i was not -- it was my error not knowing how sensitive it was, how important it was that we communicate those. so as i said, we will make that a regular thing in the future. on the other question, which i'm drawing a blank, what was the second one? on the schedule performance, that's a fair point. and to the degree that we're not communicating well quantifying the risk that we see in the executing of these programs, we need to do better with that. we work regularly with our staffers in the quarterly briefings and to the degree that those are not communicating appropriately, i'm happy to fine a better way do that to improve communication. >> okay. and once again, mr. powner, one of noaa's challenges is it needs to obtain more and better weather data with less money. one way is to get money from the commercial sector instead of launching satellites by itself. but noaa's satellite division has been delegated the authority granted by congress to the secretary of commerce to regulate these new commercial
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providers, and they're having trouble granting licenses on a timely basis. isn't it a conflict of interest for a bureaucracy to regulate the industry that is competing with its traditional satellite programs? and should the authority to regulate and promote this new innovative and money-saving industry be moved to the office of secretary of oceans and atmospheres instead of being buried inside nsds? >> yeah that's -- in terms of -- i think the key point here es this. we need robust constellations for both go and gps. we'll always have noaa own and operate these big programs. that's not going to go away, but we need to get commercial data to ensure that we have a robust constellation. so i think where everyone wants to go with the use of commercial
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and i think we have margin against our august delivery date to the launch site. the poor performance that was mentioned by mr. powner in two years leading up to the thermal vacuum test in july and august is real. and following that, when we reestablished this schedule for october's launch date, we provided a new schedule approach for lockheed martin and for massa to work together. since that october/november period, as opposed to den days a month of reserve being used up they are ahead of schedule. so the way we have rephrased the schedule and refrained it with reserve appropriately has been working and the program is working on schedule since that
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time. in the face of problems and issues that we typically see in tests. i'm reasonably confident that we will meet the october launch date. >> okay. thank you. mr. powner, you see that and why? >> well, we are aware of fail transistor parts that affect battery operation, whole like. i think that's a key risk going that's been a key risk going forward that we have heard that october launch date possibly could be at risk. that's a key issue. i don't know where we are at on that right now but that's something we're watching. we're still cautiously optimistic on the launch dates going forward. because we have heard indications there are risks to the october '16 date. >> you partially answered my next question for dr. volz, which is what do you see as the biggest factors that could cause another launch delay? >> we are -- we still have mechanical and environmental testing ahead of us. and the likely factors on the
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gozar spacecraft since integrated and the transistor failure has been corrected and the pieces are back at integration. it's the nature of similar things like that happening over which that could be a bigger problem that takes time to resolve, a parts problem, a mechanical problem during tests, those are still ahead of us. until we get through the mechanical testing, vibration testing and acoustic testing, those are major tests to complete. the ground system is solid. the radar and antennas are ready for receipt. the use community is prepared. it's getting through last eight months for environmental to launch which is always a challenge but that i see as a systemic challenge for the program right now. >> okay, thank you. what are some of the potential impacts of a delay gozar launch, will it increase the life cycle cost? >> it will not increase the life cycle -- well, depends on the type. if we have a major issue, within the expected range of delay here or there with the operations we have to do, we are operating
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within the life cycle budget within the annual budget. so i do not expect, based on what we see now that we'll have, we need additional funding for the gozar program. >> what is the current estimated time during which goes constellation will not have a backup satellite available? >> that's a good segue into what is the -- i don't predict we'll have any point that we won't have a backup satellite available, based on our estimation in the current life expectation of the satellites. however, we are all only one failure away from losing a satellite. that can always happen. so between now and the launch of gozar, our estimation is the satellites we have on orbit are functioning, aging and healthy, as i said in my introduction. and i do not expect we'll have a gap. however, if we do, if we lose one of our assets, we do have a backup in space. if we lose that backup, we are using two satellites, we have anticipated this possibility and worked cooperatively with our international partners so they
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could loan us a satellite in the dire circumstances we have two major system failures. we have worked this out over the past. >> and i was going to ask if it's ever happened in the past. >> it has in the past occurred that we have had to borrow some assets from our foreign partners. and we have contributed assets of the same as the global constellation of geostationary satellites have -- the partnership sharing agreements we have had have been successful and exercised two or three times in the past. >> we had a hearing earlier and heard testimony about the sunburst that crossed our orbit last year that we missed by about one week. that would have virtually, some experts say, knock out every commercial satellite. how would that have affected yours? >> i don't know the magnitude of that particular solar event that might have hit us. our satellites are hardened for what we understand what the normal environment is, if normal
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means some deviation from the normal environment. a major solar storm would have an impact on all our satellites. major is hard to determine when exactly what it is. we have as vulnerable as some other satellites to major solar events and do what we can to harden it. we may be more hardened than the commercial ones, but it is still a significant event would have an impact on us. >> mr. powner, do you want to comment? >> i have nothing further to add on that. >> i'm concerned about what we do to harden these, how much they can be hardened. if there's any cost that's prohibitive in doing that. i just don't think that congress, quite frankly, or the public communications industry has taken it serious enough. we had experts come in here and tell us basically it would change the world as we have known it.
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they say the impact would be in the trillions and they talked multiple trillions but they wouldn't dare attempt to quantify it. but we seem to be doing so little about hardening these for solar eruption is what they called it, or emps, they dismissed that as well. before somebody would use an emp against us, there would have to be bigger problems, which is not true. so -- is there a plan that contains noaa's ongoing strategies to mitigate a satellite data gap? >> yes, sir, there is. and it's been exercised for the last several years for our program. and that is the benefit -- the point of getting jpss one and two and the pfo under contract to get to a situation. directly to your point, where we have a spare, a hot spare on orbit for our polar energy and stationary satellites, and in the event of a significant event, we are
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thinking about a meteorite but it could be a solar flare, we could redeploy an equivocally capable asset within a year. that's the objective. that's one way rather than trying to harden the satellite under an unknown event is to have a replacement satellite available. when you look as goes t and u available, we won't necessarily launch them to have in orbit but they could be sitting on the ground in the case of that as a replenishment when we have a failure. our programs do support getting to the robust state but we are not there yet. >> that's a great plan. but if we had an impact, the consequence of the one, the scientists told us last year, it's very possible there would be an electronic grid, would not be an electronic grid to enable you to send up one in a year? >> fair enough. the magnitude of the event -- there are events of the size that we can't model for or plan for. but we are planning for the loss
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of satellite assets, something that may only affect satellites and not the whole ground infrastructure. >> thank you for your indulgence on that. i yield back. >> you bet. >> mr. powner, i saw you indicating that you have a comment when he mentioned that the gozar delay could have an impact on life cycle costs. did you want to say something about that? >> well, life cycle costs, there are reserves. you have an overall life cycle. any delay there's going to impact on cost. the last delay there was an impact on cost. so i want to be clear on that. any delay we further have will impact the cost and there will be an impact on the potential increase in the potential gap and backup capability. >> that's important for those of us on the committee to understand. i now recognize the gentleman from alabama, mr. palmer, for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i would like to thank the witnesses. mr. powner, you mentioned noaa needs a clear policy on what an
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al lift would drive the satellite life spans. can you expand on that? >> so some background here, if you look at what dod does, they robust analysis on the rely ability of the operational satellites. to noaa's credit on jpss, they do a pretty nice assessment on the availability and reliability. we don't see it on goes. but even to, they need to be real clear on what their policy is on how they determine the life span. so, for instance, i've been doing this a long time looking at n pose for this committee even prior to the dates that congressman perlmutter made. on the polar constellation, we always thought the policy was you have a backup on the ground. and now i'm hearing a backup in orbit. we just need to be clear on what our policy is on ensuring a robust constellation. and noaa is not always clear. they are not always clear. and we need to gha


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