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The U.S. government has moved closer to merging and streamlining two separate environmental satellite programs operated by the Department of Defense (DOD) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Earlier this month, the government installed the Integrated Polar Acquisition and Control Subsystem in a Commerce Department facility in Suitland, Maryland. Beginning next summer, the system will operate the two environmental satellites in DOD's Defense Meteorological Satellite Program. Under merger plans, NOAA will be responsible for operating the DOD satellite system as well as its own. The elimination of separate systems could save $678 million through fiscal year 1999, according to James Mannen, Director of the federal government's Integrated Program Office