Congress requests GAO GeoXO weather satellite review 2023

Republican leaders of two oversight committees have requested a GAO probe of a significant new weather satellite program.

In a June 1 letter, House Science Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) and Senate Commerce Committee Ranking Member Ted Cruz (R-Texas) requested a review of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Geostationary Extended Operations, or GeoXO, program of next-generation weather satellites due to cost overruns and delays.

GeoXO will continue GOES-R observations and add additional capabilities. NOAA expects to spend $19.6 billion on GeoXO, roughly twice what it spent on GOES-R.

GAO reviews GeoXO weather satellite program

Lucas and Cruz wrote that GOES-R had cost and scheduling concerns, not GeoXO. “The delays and budget overruns in the GOES-R program make it all the more important to ensure that GeoXO is well-managed,” they stated.

They requested that the GAO review GeoXO’s design and development, NOAA’s strategies to stay on cost and schedule, and how NOAA has applied GOES-R’s lessons.

GeoXO is currently developing. In March, NOAA awarded L3Harris a $765.5 million contract to deliver satellite imagers. NOAA will choose a sounder instrument vendor later this year.

GeoXO was budgeted $417.4 million by NOAA for FY 2024. The program earned $285 million in fiscal year 2023, substantially below its $653.8 million proposal. Appropriators claimed their funds will finish formulation studies and award the imager contract.

“NOAA’s current constellation will continue to perform for another decade. In his opening statement at a House Science Committee hearing on May 11, NOAA administrator Rick Spinrad said that funding GeoXO and other future satellite programs would “ensure critical data continuity” from existing systems and add new capabilities.

At the hearing, Spinrad claimed he was creating a “rigorous acquisition strategy and structure” at NOAA that would continue to use NASA to buy satellites and sensors for weather satellite projects.

Lucas and Cruz wrote to the GAO, “While these appear to be positive steps, it is unclear if this new process will be successful.”

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