Raymond: DoD needs unified organization for space acquisitions

Space

Space Force will have a field command focused on acquisition that will bring together several existing organizations

WASHINGTON — One unfinished piece of business for the leaders of the U.S. Space Force is figuring out the organization of space acquisition agencies that currently operate independently.

A plan to consolidate diverse procurement organizations under a single command is in the works, Gen. John Raymond, chief of space operations of the U.S. Space Force, said May 20.

“One of my key priorities is to drive unity of effort across the department,” Raymond told reporters on a Defense Writers Group conference call.

When the Space Force was established in December 2019, the Space and Missile Systems Center in Los Angeles, and the Space Rapid Capabilities Office at Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico were realigned under the Space Force. The Space Development Agency, a year-old agency created under the office of the undersecretary of defense for research and engineering, is not in the Space Force yet. Congress asked DoD to figure out a plan to transfer the SDA to the Space Force by October 2022.

The timing of the transfer is now a a bone of contention, with the Air Force arguing that the SDA should move over as soon as possible rather than wait until October 2022.

Raymond said one the Space Force’s field commands will be for acquisitions. Presumably that command will be the umbrella organization for SMC, the RCO and the SDA. Raymond said the details are still being hammered out.

One of the questions being debated is how to create a cohesive organization that also “enables the strengths of SDA and others like the RCO,” he said. It’s a balancing act between preserving their unique attributes while “driving a common way forward.”

Raymond noted that DoD for years has been criticized for its fragmented space organization. “With the Space Force we have an opportunity to bring some unity of effort, move faster and reduce duplication,” he said. “I think there’s vast agreement that we need to do that.”

Congressional critics often cited a Government Accountability Office study from 2016 that exposed fragmentation and overlap in DoD space acquisition management. GAO said the lack of cohesion in space acquisitions “contributed to program delays and cancellations, cost increases, and inefficient operations.” GAO identified approximately 60 organizations across DoD, the White House, the intelligence community and civilian agencies overseeing military space. Of those, eight had space acquisition management responsibilities.

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