Press Release - U.S. Global Positioning System Policy

Office of Science and Technology Policy
National Security Council

March 29, 1996
Contact: (202) 456-6020


The President has approved a comprehensive national policy on the future management and use of the U.S. Global Positioning System (GPS) and related U.S. Government augmentations.


The Global Positioning System (GPS) was designed as a dual-use system with the primary purpose of enhancing the effectiveness of U.S. and allied military forces. GPS provides a substantial military advantage and is now being integrated into virtually every facet of our military operations. GPS is also rapidly becoming an integral component of the emerging Global Information Infrastructure, with applications ranging from mapping and surveying to international air traffic management and global change research. The growing demand from military, civil, commercial, and scientific users has generated a U.S. commercial GPS equipment and service industry that leads the world. Augmentations to enhance basic GPS services could further expand these civil and commercial markets.

The basic GPS is defined as the constellation of satellites, the navigation payloads which produce the GPS signals, ground stations, data links, and associated command and control facilities which are operated and maintained by the Department of Defense; the Standard Positioning Service (SPS) as the civil and commercial service provided by the basic GPS; and augmentations as those systems based on the GPS that provide real-time accuracy greater than the SPS.

This policy presents a strategic vision for the future management and use of GPS, addressing a broad range of military, civil, commercial, and scientific interests, both national and international.

Policy Goals

In the management and use of GPS, we seek to support and enhance our economic competitiveness and productivity while protecting U.S. national security and foreign policy interests.

Our goals are to:

  1. Strengthen and maintain our national security.

  2. Encourage acceptance and integration of GPS into peaceful civil, commercial and scientific applications worldwide.

  3. Encourage private sector investment in and use of U.S. GPS technologies and services.

  4. Promote safety and efficiency in transportation and other fields.

  5. Promote international cooperation in using GPS for peaceful purposes.

  6. Advance U.S. scientific and technical capabilities.

Policy Guidelines

We will operate and manage GPS in accordance with the following guidelines:

  1. We will continue to provide the GPS Standard Positioning Service for peaceful civil, commercial and scientific use on a continuous, worldwide basis, free of direct user fees.

  2. It is our intention to discontinue the use of GPS Selective Availability (SA) within a decade in a manner that allows adequate time and resources for our military forces to prepare fully for operations without SA. To support such a decision, affected departments and agencies will submit recommendations in accordance with the reporting requirements outlined in this policy.

  3. The GPS and U.S. Government augmentations will remain responsive to the National Command Authorities.

  4. We will cooperate with other governments and international organizations to ensure an appropriate balance between the requirements of international civil, commercial and scientific users and international security interests.

  5. We will advocate the acceptance of GPS and U.S. Government augmentations as standards for international use.

  6. To the fullest extent feasible, we will purchase commercially available GPS products and services that meet U.S. Government requirements and will not conduct activities that preclude or deter commercial GPS activities, except for national security or public safety reasons.

  7. A permanent interagency GPS Executive Board, jointly chaired by the Departments of Defense and Transportation, will manage the GPS and U.S. Government augmentations. Other departments and agencies will participate as appropriate. The GPS Executive Board will consult with U.S. Government agencies, U.S. industries and foreign governments involved in navigation and positioning system research, development, operation, and use.

This policy will be implemented within the overall resource and policy guidance provided by the President.

Agency Roles and Responsibilities

The Department of Defense will:

  1. Continue to acquire, operate, and maintain the basic GPS.

  2. Maintain a Standard Positioning Service (as defined in the Federal Radionavigation Plan and the GPS Standard Positioning Service Signal Specification) that will be available on a continuous, worldwide basis.

  3. Maintain a Precise Positioning Service for use by the U.S. military and other authorized users.

  4. Cooperate with the Director of Central Intelligence, the Department of State and other appropriate departments and agencies to assess the national security implications of the use of GPS, its augmentations, and alternative satellite-based positioning and navigation systems.

  5. Develop measures to prevent the hostile use of GPS and its augmentations to ensure that the United States retains a military advantage without unduly disrupting or degrading civilian uses.

The Department of Transportation will:

  • Serve as the lead agency within the U.S. Government for all Federal civil GPS matters.

  • Develop and implement U.S. Government augmentations to the basic GPS for transportation applications.

  • In cooperation with the Departments of Commerce, Defense and State, take the lead in promoting commercial applications of GPS technologies and the acceptance of GPS and U.S. Government augmentations as standards in domestic and international transportation systems.

  • In cooperation with other departments and agencies, coordinate U.S. Government-provided GPS civil augmentation systems to minimize cost and duplication of effort.

    The Department of State will:

  • In cooperation with appropriate departments and agencies, consult with foreign governments and other international organizations to assess the feasibility of developing bilateral or multilateral guidelines on the provision and use of GPS services.

  • Coordinate the interagency review of instructions to U.S. delegations to bilateral consultations and multilateral conferences related to the planning, operation, management, and use of GPS and related augmentation systems.

  • Coordinate the interagency review of international agreements with foreign governments and international organizations concerning international use of GPS and related augmentation systems.

    Reporting Requirements

    Beginning in 2000, the President will make an annual determination on continued use of GPS Selective Availability. To support this determination, the Secretary of Defense, in cooperation with the Secretary of Transportation, the Director of Central Intelligence, and heads of other appropriate departments and agencies, shall provide an assessment and recommendation on continued SA use. This recommendation shall be provided to the President through the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs and the Assistant to the President for Science and Technology.

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