The Office of Orbital Phenomena Surveillance, or OOPS, is the government organization created by President Sheffield to keep an eye on the alien life force later known as HAL. It's cover was that it was set up to "keep track of all the space junk we put into orbit." It is a branch of the Defense Intelligence Agency.
When Theresa Sullivan gives off heat after bonding with HAL, OOPS discovers her and at once puts up a 24/7 surveillance of her and her home.
Surveillance of Theresa Edit
During her time at Boston College, OOPS agents found difficulties in observing Theresa, due to the unpredictable nature of her schedule, and hence a wider coverage across the campus was needed. As a result, two OOPS agents were actually caught by campus police. The DIA told the security officers that it was a matter of national security, and no further questions were asked.
Agents covering Theresa were not told why they were performing surveillance, and were "told not to speculate." One of the few people who even knew Theresa gave off heat was OOPS agent Jan Struthers.
The cost of maintaining surveillance of Theresa for eight years was "a third of a billion dollars," or about $330,000,000.
Origin of the Name Edit
The name "OOPS" is one that would invoke laughter, but it is treated with absolute seriousness by the book and its characters. No one is shocked by the name, or ponders why a government organization would be named as such.
In his rants on Amazon against critics, Norman Boutin has explained that OOPS was meant to intentionally be goofy in order to divert any nosy government official who might discover its true purpose. The idea was they would see the name "OOPS" and never think that it was anything important. The problem with this explanation is three-fold:
- OOPS already had a cover story for its existence - why add to that a goofy name?
- One would assume that such a goofy name would draw more unwanted attention by other government officials, not less. Someone reviewing government funding might come across OOPS and think, "What in the heck is this?" and look more into it.
- Like many of Norman Boutin's explanations, this one is never explained in the book itself. A person reading Boutin's book with no knowledge of Random Internet Comment #241 would never get that.
In the end, OOPS becomes another unintentional reason to laugh at Empress Theresa.