Who runs GPS?

February 16, 2023  - By

Key Partners and Contributors

Several other U.S. government departments and organizations play a role in shaping national GPS policy.

DOT Logo

Department of Transportation (DOT)

DOT is the lead department for civil PNT. It coordinates, defines, and validates requirements for management and modernization of all civil applications. Furthermore, DOT represents all civil departments and agencies in GPS development, acquisition, management and operations. DOT provides PNT systems analysis and coordination throughout the requirements development process to ensure safe and efficient architecture deployment.

In addition, DOT serves as the lead federal agency in discussions with DOD regarding all GPS civil services and signals, including implementation of signal authentication capabilities. Additionally, DOT is the lead department for performance monitoring and interference detection for Civil Space-Based PNT services.

DOT has several different administrations that are active GPS users and developers of GPS applications, including:

  • Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which operates the GPS Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS) to monitor the integrity of the GPS signals and broadcast differential corrections for safety of life applications
  • Federal Railroad Administration (FRA)
  • Federal Highway Administration (FHWA)
  • Maritime Administration (MARAD)
  • DOT Volpe Center, which houses a major research and development center of excellence.

Additionally, DOT conducts civil engagement with international partners through analyses and subject matter expert contributions to working groups, and other domestic and international fora, including:

The CGSIC, chaired by DOT with the U.S. Coast Guard as deputy chair, has a wide participation and facilitates interaction between civil GPS users worldwide and the U.S. GPS authorities. Information from CGSIC members and meetings is provided to U.S. GPS authorities for consideration in GPS policy development and GPS service operation. The CGSIC:

  • Exchanges information about GPS with the civil user community.
  • Responds to the needs of civil GPS users.
  • Integrates GPS into civil sector applications.

(Related article: National Guard timing backup for GPS in House FY-2023 NDAA)

National Space-Based PNT Systems Engineering Forum (NPEF)

The NPEF, co-chaired by DOD and DOT, consists of engineers and other experts from across the interagency community. It conducts assessments and makes recommendations on technical issues of interest to both GPS military and civil users as tasked by the EXCOM. Active management of this forum is delegated to the FAA and SSC MilComm & PNT Engineering.

DOC Logo

Department of Commerce (DOC)

  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), operates a network of Continuously Operating Reference Stations (CORS) to provide GNSS data, supporting three-dimensional positioning, meteorology, space weather, and geophysical applications throughout the United States.
  • National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), authorizes and protects federal uses of the radiofrequency spectrum, including the radionavigation bands used by GPS.
  • National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), publishes and promotes the Cybersecurity Framework, including a PNT Profile designed to shore up the resilience of critical infrastructures that use GPS to obtain PNT.

(Related article: Biden administration pushing for streamlined space rules)

Homeland Security Logo

Department of Homeland Security

U.S.Coast Guard GPS Navigation Center (NAVCEN).
Commanding Officer: CAPT Scott R. Calhoun


  • Provides a navigation information service for civilian GPS users.
  • Coordinates and manages CGSIC in cooperation with DOT.
  • Publishes GPS data files (GPS almanac information and satellite maintenance messages) for use by the world’s civil users of GPS.
  • Manages reports of GPS interference and inquiries from all over the world.

NASA sponsors and serves as the Executive Secretary for the

National Space-Based Positioning, Navigation and Timing Advisory Board
Chair: Admiral Thad Allen, former U.S. Coast Guard Commandant

(Related article: GPS could have high accuracy and counter spoofing, if…)

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

The PNT Advisory Board provides independent advice to the EXCOM from outside the U.S. government. Members of the PNT Advisory Board, including several non-U.S. members from the international scientific community, are nominated by the EXCOM’s member departments/agencies, then approved by the EXCOM’s co-chairs and appointed by the NASA administrator. The advisory board focuses on making GPS and related PNT systems and services more accessible, reliable and robust. Its mantra is to “protect, toughen and augment” GPS.

(Related article: NASA loses contact with CYGNSS hurricane satellite)


Department of State (DOS)

GPS International Working Group (GIWG)

This working group, chaired by DOS, facilitates outreach planning, coordination, and interaction for U.S. engagement in a wide variety of multilateral and bilateral international forums, including leadership and active participation in United Nations forums, such as the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

Continue reading to learn more about the GPS program’s congressional funding and oversight

About the Author: Matteo Luccio

Matteo Luccio, GPS World’s Editor-in-Chief, possesses more than 20 years of experience as a writer and editor for GNSS and geospatial technology magazines. He began his career in the industry in 2000, serving as managing editor of GPS World and Galileo’s World, then as editor of Earth Observation Magazine and GIS Monitor. His technical articles have been published in more than 20 professional magazines, including Professional Surveyor Magazine, Apogeo Spatial and xyHt. Luccio holds a master’s degree in political science from MIT. He can be reached at mluccio@northcoastmedia.net or 541-543-0525.