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The Global Positioning System (GPS) is a military space system operated by the U.S. Air Force that continuously broadcasts precise time signals. These signals can be used worldwide to aid position location, navigation, and timing. GPS is an information resource that supports a wide range of civil, scientific, and commercial functions as well as U.S. forces. National policy toward GPS has not, however, kept pace with the system's rapidly expanding international uses. This study identifies major opportunities and vulnerabilities created by GPS for U.S. defense, commercial, and foreign policy interests, and makes recommendations for U.S. policy toward GPS, including future governance and funding. If the United States promotes GPS as a global standard, it should address the dual-use nature of the technology through international agreements. If the United States becomes an unreliable steward for GPS, it risks losing the economic and diplomatic benefits from past investments in this technology.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One


  • Chapter Two

    National Interests and Stakeholders in GPS Policy

  • Chapter Three

    National Security Assessment

  • Chapter Four

    Commercial Assessment

  • Chapter Five

    Institutional and Legal Assessment

  • Chapter Six

    Conclusions and Recommendations

  • Appendix A

    GPS Technologies and Alternatives

  • Appendix B

    GPS History, Chronology, and Budgets

  • Appendix C

    GPS Policy References

  • Appendix D

    International Legal References for GPS

This report is part of the RAND Corporation Monograph report series. The monograph/report was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1993 to 2003. RAND monograph/reports presented major research findings that addressed the challenges facing the public and private sectors. They included executive summaries, technical documentation, and synthesis pieces.

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