I have spent the last year in the Office of Space and Advanced Technology, at the U.S. State Department. My most significant accomplishment has been working in a project to set up a workshop on GPS within Brazil. The purpose of the workshop is to bring awareness of the benefits of satellite navigation to Brazilian users. Most of us take GPS for granted. We have lived and worked with it for several years, some of us even longer. However, there are many industries inside and outside the United States that are only starting to learn how to incorporate it into their products or processes so that they can enhance productivity and improve their services and products. Also, this new crop of GPS users must be encouraged to utilize this marvelous utility now. There is much to be gained by doing so. However, it requires some education and encouragement to assure them that there are benefits that they can reap today, regardless of detractors and promises of future systems whose capabilities are years off. The intangible benefits from the ION Government Fellows Program are derived from the networking that takes place within the program. Through the program, one meets and develops contacts with colleagues that work in all facets of the operation of our government, both in the Legislative Branch and in the Executive Branch. Until one has an experience like this, one really has little understanding or a true comprehension of how decisions within our government are made and implemented.
The Institute of Navigation has inaugurated the position of Executive Fellow. It is somewhat similar to the Congressional Fellow position that the ION has sponsored the last few years. The role of the Executive Fellow is to provide and be a source of technical assistance to the Executive Branch of our government.
To prepare for this role, all fellows undergo a rigorous two-week orientation program that is conducted by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). The orientation provides essential facts about Congress and the executive branch and helps define the role of a fellow.
The two-week period includes lectures by a variety of senior persons currently involved in science and technology (S&T) policy within our government and are held in a wide sampling of government and private buildings and offices within the Washington metropolitan area. In a short period of time, you get to know a great deal of where and what is happening with regard to S&T policy.
Importance of S&T Policy As the importance of science and technology becomes more pervasive within our society, I believe the AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellowship Program takes on a more significant function than it has in the past. The latest developments in science and technology are becoming more and more a part of our daily life and are being incorporated into it more quickly than ever before. Most importantly, it is becoming a significant part of the U.S. government's budget.
For the most part, Congressional Fellows have a more challenging time finding placement than do Executive Fellows. The Congressional Fellow has to find a representative or senator who is willing to supplement their staff with someone who may not be from their home district or state but has an excellent background in S&T. On the other hand, the Executive Fellow is assisted through the guidance and knowledge that resides with the ION technical director and the ION council. Through their contacts at ION meetings, these individuals are able to provide the names of several executive branch offices in need of assistance.
Because of my background in GPS, Time & Frequency (U.S. Naval Observatory and the Naval Research Laboratory) and the Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS) of the FAA, the choice of where to go was easy for me. Of the possible offices that had expressed an interest in participating in the Executive Fellows Program, the position within the U.S. State Department's Bureau of Oceans, International Environmental and Scientific Affairs (OES), Office of Space and Advanced Technology (SAT), seemed most interesting to me.
Through attendance at ION meetings, I had become somewhat familiar with the work of Ralph Braibanti, the head of SAT. I knew that SAT was involved with nurturing and promoting the use of GPS among our allies and underdeveloped countries. After finishing my two-week indoctrination (unfortunately it caused me to miss ION GPS/GNSS 2003), started to realize the full impact that Ralph Braibanti and his staff have on navigation policy and the promotion of GPS.
The very first meeting I attended gave me a broad overview of the range and scope of what lies ahead. This meeting was a plenary meeting on the discussions to develop an agreement between the United States and the European Community on the promotion, provision and use of Galileo and GPS satellite based navigation systems. While this is only one phase of the work being carried on by SAT, it is indicative of its activity.
I am sure that my tenure as ION Executive Fellow will be marked by a wide variety of interesting and challenging tasks.
My service as the ION's Executive Fellow is drawing to a close, and without question it has been an extremely satisfying and rewarding experience. I would strongly encourage those that may have the inclination and whose personal circumstances would allow it, to strongly consider applying for a fellowship. There are benefits to the person and to the ION®. Both gain from the experience and each receive tangible and intangible benefits. I will try to relate a few of my experiences that have made me such a supporter of this program, from both a personal and the ION's point of view.
As mentioned in a previous newsletter, my fellowship is being spent in the Office of Space and Advanced Technology within the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs of the U.S. State Department. Because of my background in GPS, I found that I was able to make a contribution to the efforts of the office, almost immediately. Well, I should qualify that by stating more correctly that "immediately" in government parlance does not necessarily mean "immediately."
It took me a while to become familiar with the nomenclature used within State before I could intelligently follow the acronyms used during the multitude of meetings that one attends. It also took a while to obtain access to the computers in my office because a background check for one's security clearance had to be completed before one could use this very important tool. It was only after that critical point in time, that I became a somewhat productive employee.
GPS Workshop in Brazil My most significant accomplishment has been working in a project to set up a workshop on GPS within Brazil. The purpose of the workshop is to bring awareness of the benefits of satellite navigation to Brazilian users. Most of us take GPS for granted. We have lived and worked with it for several years, some of us even longer. However, there are many industries inside and outside the United States that are only starting to learn how to incorporate it into their products or processes so that they can enhance productivity and improve their services and products.
Also, this new crop of GPS users must be encouraged to utilize this marvelous utility now. There is much to be gained by doing so. However, it requires some education and encouragement to assure them that there are benefits that they can reap today, regardless of detractors and promises of future systems whose capabilities are years off. Unfortunately, the workshop will be held in September and may prevent me from attending the ION GNSS 2004 meeting.
The intangible benefits from the ION Government Fellows Program are derived from the networking that takes place within the program. Through the program, one meets and develops contacts with colleagues that work in all facets of the operation of our government, both in the Legislative Branch and in the Executive Branch. Until one has an experience like this, one really has little understanding or a true comprehension of how decisions within our government are made and implemented. Having become a part of it and seeing it in action, the process is unbelievable and almost beyond the grasp of logic. The contacts and understanding of the system that one develops and the breadth of these experiences will undoubtedly play an important role in the future. Exactly how, one does not really know but, do be sure, they are like an investment in a savings account that will be drawn on when needed.
My appointment as the ION Executive Fellow for the AAAS was extended this past year. Consequently, I am able to continue working on several projects that relate directly to the interests of the ION. These projects deal with satellite navigation and all involve working and interacting with a multitude of individuals who are involved in various aspects of satellite navigation within our government. They also happen to be familiar faces to ION members. This past quarter involved participation in three meetings of significance to satellite navigation.
The first was the Annual Plenary with representatives of the Japanese government held on November 18, 2004. This was the third such Plenary and the first one to be held in the Washington area. During the Plenary the current status of satellite navigation in each country was discussed as well as future direction. The meeting ended with a Joint Statement that reconfirmed the principles contained in the 1998 "Joint Statement on Cooperation in the Use of GPS", i.e., the provision of a GPS Standard Positioning Service for peaceful civil, commercial and scientific use on a continuous, worldwide basis, free of direct user fees. The Government of Japan briefed U.S. representatives on the upcoming launch of Japan's Multi-functional Transport Satellite (MTSAT) Satellite-based Augmentation System (MSAS) [now scheduled for February 24, 2005] and outlined their plans to construct a regional satellite positioning system, known as the Quasi-Zenith Satellite System (QZSS) that will be supplementary to and interoperable with GPS.
On 9-10 December 2004, Consultations with the Russian Federation on GPS-GLONASS led to a Joint Statement that reiterated their commitment to continuing these talks and reaffirmed that the United States and the Russian Federation intend to continue to provide the GPS and GLONASS civil signals appropriate for commercial, scientific and safety of life use on a continuous, worldwide basis, free of direct user fees. Both sides further stated their intention to work together to the maximum extent practicable to maintain radio frequency compatibility in spectrum use between each other's satellite-based navigation and timing signals and promote interoperability of GPS and GLONASS for civil user benefits worldwide. To this end, both sides intend to establish working groups on matters of development and use of GLONASS and GPS and their respective augmentations.
Consultations were also held with the South Korean Government in Seoul on November 2, 2004. The Government of South Korea seems to be in the process of evaluating available satellite navigation systems that could be useful in improving PNT capabilities within their country. The discussions that followed the formal presentations that were given by both sides were useful in helping them formulate plans to reach their goals.
Prior to these three Consultations, a GPS Workshop sponsored by the U.S. State Department and the American Chamber of Commerce was held in Sao Paulo on September 13, 2004. The theme of the Workshop was to show how GPS was enhancing productivity in Brazil in a multitude of applications. The speakers were primarily Brazilian nationals who have been using GPS in their products and in their PNT services.
Spring 2005: Coming to a Close
The end of my appointment as the ION's Government Executive Fellow at the U.S. Department of State is fast approaching. It has been a fantastic experience, and I strongly recommend that other ION members consider it.
Both senior and junior ION members would not only benefit from this rewarding opportunity, but also provide a service that promotes the role of the Institute of Navigation. Senior members can draw upon their years of experience and the large number of acquaintances they have made over the years. Junior members can offer their technical background based on the latest, most up-to-date advances being taught at our nation's best schools.
While I have had the privilege to work on a variety of tasks at the State Department, there are many items on the docket with which the ION's next Government Executive Fellow, Dr. Jennifer Gautier, could be kept busy, especially in the State Department's Office of Space and Advanced Technology.
This group is establishing procedures to facilitate the exchange of time difference information between GPS and Galileo so that users will have the maximum number of satellites to process in a combined GPS-Galileo navigation receiver. Working Group B (Trade Matters) and Working Group D (Security) are also in the process of establishing their terms of reference and setting up future meetings.
Again, I would like to thank the Institute for the opportunity to have served it once again. I also pass along my best wishes to my successor. I can promise her that wherever she serves, it will be a rewarding and fulfilling experience.