The proposal for the Global Geodetic Observing System (GGOS) was developed by the GGOS planning group between 2001 and 2003 according to the Bylaws of the International Association of Geodesy (IAG). The proposal was accepted by the IAG Executive Committee and the IAG Council at their meetings during the XXIII IUGG General Assembly in Sapporo in July 2003. GGOS was endorsed by the IUGG through Resolution No. 3 at the same General Assembly.
Changes in the IAG Bylaws in 2007 resulted in GGOS being recognized as an integral component of IAG along with Services and Commissions. As a historical note, this transformed the status of GGOS from that of an IAG Project to an IAG component. Specific to the GGOS is IAG Bylaw numbers 1(d) and 15.
During 2009 -2011, revisions to the structure of GGOS were discussed leading to the new Terms of Reference (as officially adopted by the IAG Executive Committee at the IUGG XXV General Assembly, Melbourne, Australia July 2011), primarily to streamline the organizational structure of the GGOS.
The acronym GGOS has two very distinct meanings, which should not be confused:
the "organization GGOS" consisting of components such as committees, panels, working groups, etc., and
the "observation system GGOS" comprising the infrastructure of many different instrument types, satellite missions, and data and analysis centers. While GGOS as an organization has established its structure from essentially new entities and will, over the next years, add new entities where needed, the observational infrastructure for GGOS as the system is being largely provided by the IAG Services.
While the components of the GGOS organization are fully under the control of the International Association of Geodesy (IAG), the same is not true for all the components contributing to GGOS the observing system. Many parts of the infrastructure are provided by other organizations not even loosely affiliated with IAG. For example, the GPS system, which is crucial for the IGS, is operated and maintained by the U.S. Department of Defence. Many of the relevant satellite missions including satellite altimetry, gravity, and InSAR missions are under the control of space agencies, while GGOS only can utilize the observations.
This manuscript is published in a special issue of the Journal of Geodynamics devoted to GGOS, namely Volume 40, Pages 357-362, November-December 2005. The published article is accessible through DOI: Science Direct