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The influence of economics interacting with measurement requirements on the recent evolution of ocean measurement systems is noted, particularly with respect to the costs of operating ships. The logical future course of this evolution toward remote-data-access systems, i.e., unattended systems from which data are accessible during the observation period, is noted. The concept of program reliability is differentiated from system reliability. Two measures of system effectiveness are defined: data-acquisition cost efficiency (bits/$) and systemcost-access index (bits/$-day). A hypothetical measurement problem is approached through two unattended systems, one a remote-data-access concept and one a data-isolated concept. The various measures of merit derived illustrate the economic and operational superiority of the remote-data-access concept under the conditions defined.