Share the spectrum, Bush says

President Bush says his updated policies are intended to keep up with the 'explosion of spectrum-based technologies' and support government functions.

President Bush unveiled a plan this month to better manage radio spectrum shared by government and industry.

The plan calls for an interagency task force of executives to recommend ways to use spectrum more efficiently.

Citing the growing use of spectrum among commercial, military, emergency and scientific operations, Bush said his updated policies are intended to keep up with the 'explosion of spectrum-based technologies.'

'The existing legal and policy framework for spectrum management has not kept pace with the dramatic changes in technology and spectrum use,' he noted in a June 5 memorandum.

Two months before Bush released his memo, the General Accounting Office had reported the need for better spectrum management, particularly for Defense systems, to prevent interference and promote efficiency.

Better management starts at the acquisition phase, said the report, Military Space Operations: Common Problems and Their Effects on Satellite and Related Acquisitions.

Tops the list

DOD has long-standing policies that require system developers and acquisition officials to consider spectrum early in the development and acquisition phase of system design, production and integration.

'We found that DOD's weapons programs have often failed to obtain, consider or act upon adequate spectrum supportability knowledge during the early stages of acquisition,' GAO said. 'A majority of programs try to gain this knowledge at later stages, after key system development decisions may have been made.'

As a result, some programs suffer major delays, or program managers are forced to redesign systems, causing costs to balloon, GAO said. To read the report, go to and enter 126 in the box.

But retired Navy Rear Adm. Robert Nutwell, a principal at Booz Allen Hamilton of McLean, Va., said the spectrum issue is not about awareness of certification policies but rather enforcement of those policies.

'I think the biggest issue is just enforcement at the milestone decisions,' Nutwell said.

Nutwell, a former deputy assistant secretary of Defense for command, control, communications, intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and space, said he didn't think the GAO report gave the department credit for how it's changed the way it does business.

Spectrum defenders

'I think DOD has had more progress in spectrum certification than the report indicates,' he said.
For the past two years, Defense and industry have publicly battled over spectrum use.

To avoid further run-ins, Bush will establish the Federal Government Spectrum Task Force. Its members will include the chiefs of the departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Energy, Homeland Security, Justice, Interior, State, Transportation and Treasury, as well as NASA, the Office of Management and Budget, and the White House's Office of Science and Technology Policy.

'We must unlock the economic value and entrepreneurial potential of U.S. spectrum assets while ensuring that sufficient spectrum is available to support critical government functions,' Bush noted in his memo.

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