Ellen Lord: A reorganization of the U.S. Space Force’s acquisition bureaucracy should not harm space programs
WASHINGTON — In the legislation that creates the U.S. Space Force, Congress has directed a major reorganization of the office that manages the acquisition of space systems. Although it could take some time to figure out the details of the Space Force’s acquisition bureaucracy, programs are not likely to slow down as a result, said Ellen Lord, undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment.
During a breakfast meeting with reporters Jan. 14, Lord said the Pentagon is closely monitoring the standup of the U.S. Space Force. A senior level Space Governance Board, in which Lord participates, spends a lot of time tracking the ongoing reorganization. She said leaders are enthusiastic about the creation of a U.S. Space Force under the Department of the Air Force. “I frankly see more effort and leadership involvement in space now than ever in the past,” Lord said.
“We see the standup of the Space Force and of U.S. Space Command as an opportunity to really focus on this critical domain,” she said. Specifically on how space acquisitions should be managed under the Space Force, Lord said it will be up to Air Force and Space Force leaders to propose options that satisfy the congressional mandate to give space its own acquisition shop.
“The NDAA instructed the Air Force to come up with a variety of suggestions, if you will, courses of action around how to do acquisition,” said Lord.
The legislation calls for a breakup the office of the assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition and for the transfer of space programs to a new organization led by a principal assistant to the secretary of the Air Force for space acquisition and integration. Proponents of the bill have argued that a separate acquisition executive for space is needed to give space programs proper attention and ensure somebody is accountable for their performance.
Lord said she does not foresee a slowdown in space procurements as the reorganization unfolds. “If anything you’re going to see an acceleration,” she said. Because of the importance of space capabilities in military operations, programs will not stagnate, Lord suggested. Most military weapons systems are linked to space in some fashion, creating a “multi-domain battle,” she said. “Every combatant command has equities in space, there’s more collaboration than I‘ve seen before.”