Office of the Press Secretary
|For Immediate Release
||May 1, 2000
STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT REGARDING
STATES' DECISION TO STOP DEGRADING
GLOBAL POSITIONING SYSTEM
Today, I am pleased to announce that the United States will stop the
intentional degradation of the Global Positioning System (GPS) signals
available to the public beginning at midnight tonight. We call this
degradation feature Selective Availability (SA). This will mean that civilian
users of GPS will be able to pinpoint locations up to ten times more accurately
than they do now. GPS is a dual-use, satellite-based system that provides
accurate location and timing data to users worldwide. My March 1996
Presidential Decision Directive included in the goals for GPS to:
encourage acceptance and integration of GPS into peaceful civil,
commercial and scientific applications worldwide; and to encourage private
sector investment in and use of U.S. GPS technologies and services.
To meet these goals, I committed the U.S. to discontinuing the use of SA by
2006 with an annual assessment of its continued use beginning this year.
The decision to discontinue SA is the latest measure in an on-going
effort to make GPS more responsive to civil and commercial users
worldwide. Last year, Vice President Gore announced our plans to
modernize GPS by adding two new civilian signals to enhance the civil and
commercial service. This initiative is on-track and the budget further
advances modernization by incorporating some of the new features on up to 18
additional satellites that are already awaiting launch or are in
production. We will continue to provide all of these capabilities to
worldwide users free of charge.
My decision to discontinue SA was based upon a recommendation by the
Secretary of Defense in coordination with the Departments of State,
Transportation, Commerce, the Director of Central Intelligence, and other
Executive Branch Departments and Agencies. They realized that worldwide
transportation safety, scientific, and commercial interests could best be
served by discontinuation of SA. Along with our commitment to enhance GPS
for peaceful applications, my administration is committed to preserving fully
the military utility of GPS. The decision to discontinue SA is coupled
with our continuing efforts to upgrade the military utility of our systems that
use GPS, and is supported by threat assessments which conclude that setting SA
to zero at this time would have minimal impact on national security.
Additionally, we have demonstrated the capability to selectively deny GPS
signals on a regional basis when our national security is threatened.
This regional approach to denying navigation services is consistent with the
1996 plan to discontinue the degradation of civil and commercial GPS service
globally through the SA technique.
Originally developed by the Department of Defense as a military system,
GPS has become a global utility. It benefits users around the world in
many different applications, including air, road, marine, and rail navigation,
telecommunications, emergency response, oil exploration, mining, and many
more. Civilian users will realize a dramatic improvement in GPS accuracy
with the discontinuation of SA. For example, emergency teams responding
to a cry for help can now determine what side of the highway they must respond
to, thereby saving precious minutes. This increase in accuracy will allow
new GPS applications to emerge and continue to enhance the lives of people
around the world.
Office of Science
and Technology Policy
1600 Pennsylvania Ave, N.W
Washington, DC 20502