Senior Defense Department officials are reviewing a report on reforming space acquisitions, according to U.S. Space Force Vice Commander Lt. Gen. David Thompson, who added the report could be sent to Congress in the near future.
“It’s in the final stages of review with the department. The department will in the very near term submit it to Congress,” Thompson said in a Space News virtual event April 23.
When Congress created the Space Force in December, it was largely agnostic about how acquisitions should be reformed under the new, sixth service branch of the military.
While the legislation established a new council and executive position to oversee space acquisitions under the Department of the Air Force, it did not provide substantial guidance on the organizational structure of acquisitions, which are currently divided primarily among the Space and Missile Systems Center, the Space Development Agency, and the Space Rapid Capabilities Office. Neither did the legislation dictate what was to happen to space-related acquisitions taking place outside of the Department of the Air Force.
The Space Force plans for space acquisition are not as radical as some expected, keeping its various acquisitions organizations as separate entities while placing them under a new Space Systems Command.
Instead, the legislation called on the newly established Space Force to provide a report to Congress by the end of March on acquisition reforms. However, the legislative proposal the Space Force delivered kicked many of the more complicated issues — including acquisition reforms — down the road. Thompson said an acquisitions report would likely be sent to Congress shortly.
“We’ve ... recently completed a report that’s being reviewed by senior members of the Department of Defense to propose a new, more agile, more responsive acquisitions system,” Thompson said.
“This isn’t just a matter of acquisition process,” he added. “There’s also another element line of activity as we stand up the Space Force that is organizational. And as part of that organizational line of effort, it is our responsibility through [Air Force Secretary Barbara] Barrett and through Gen. [John] Raymond, the chief of space operations, to bring forward to the secretary of defense and others our proposal for how the acquisition functions and organizations that perform space-related acquisitions in the Department of Defense should be aligned and organized, and under what authorities and how they should operate.”
Thompson said he couldn’t provide details of what’s in the report yet, but he did say the Space Force consulted with the National Reconnaissance Office, the SDA, the Missile Defense Agency and many acquisition organizations not focused on space.
“What we’ve created as a result in the report is a series of recommendations that make the most sense for the Space Force,” Thompson said. “And while taken individually, they are relatively simple steps. When you put them all together in the number of steps and the manner we have, we absolutely think it’s going to be a bold and groundbreaking approach to acquisitions.”