The Obama administration has plans to re-energize a fallen satellite program that is over budget and out of time. Before plans can change, the administration needs to convince Congress that the changes will be enough to fix the failing program. The White House has asked for a budget increase of more than $400 million.
Congress is skeptical that the changes will not be enough. ” We wonder… will what we are doing make a difference?” said Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md, chair of the subcommittee that oversees the program.
Experts and government watchdogs concluded that the program’s greatest weakness is the management structure. Three agencies all share responsibilities with the program: NASA, the Air Force and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). “The way the program was structured, it wasn’t going to work,” an expert on the program, Thomas Betterton said.
Commerce Secretary Gary Locke is hopeful that the program has the right management structure. Some of the existing structure needs to stay so that currently functioning satellites do not lose their operational capacity. The program has four satellites that preserve the weather forecasting system by replacing aging satellites that will wear out in ten years. The program was not anticipated to take this much time or money.
Without the satellites or a new program in place for replacing the current satellites there will be a gap in weather and climate data.