Space Force Shakes Up Acquisition Again in Effort to Achieve Efficiencies

The Space Force confirmed that it will reorganize space acquisition and space policy authorities starting Oct. 18 in an effort to streamline decision-making in line with Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall’s plan announced in August.

As first reported by Breaking Defense on Oct. 15, the Department of the Air Force described a plan to break out space policy from the as-yet unnamed space acquisitions chief. The move would reduce the number of personnel required to sign off on policy decisions by transferring space policy to the Chief of Space Operations and the Secretary of the Air Force.

In August, Kendall described his plan to consolidate the Space Acquisition Directorate from the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics, or SAF/AQ, into a new organization, Space Acquisition and Integration, or SAF/ SQ. Space acquisition policy remains within SAF/ SQ, while broader space policy moves to Space Force and responsibility for international affairs shifts to the deputy undersecretary of the Air Force for international affairs, or SAF/ IA.

No further details were available by press time.

Kendall in August named Brig. Gen. Steven P. Whitney to head the space acquisitions office until an assistant secretary for space acquisition and integration is named. Whitney has managed the reorganization pending the appointment of that new civilian leader.

Congress has for months railed against the slow pace of space acquisitions reform and the absence of a civilian chief. In a July report, the House Appropriations Committee claimed the Air Force was dragging its feet.

“The Committee remains concerned that the Air Force has not taken more aggressive action in addressing longstanding space acquisition issues,” the report read.

Lawmakers also said the Air Force had “made little progress in defining what the Space Force will be doing that is fundamentally different than when it was a component of the Air Force.”

On Sept. 20 at the Air Force Association’s Air, Space & Cyber Conference, both Kendall and Chief of Space Operations Gen. John W. “Jay” Raymond expressed confidence in the reorganization of space acquisition, even though an assistant secretary had not yet been named.

“We’re actually interviewing people right now for the space acquisitions assistant secretary position,” Kendall said at the ASC media briefing, foreshadowing the office reorganization and personnel movement. “So, it’s moving forward. I’m reasonably happy with the pace.”

Raymond commended Kendall for his moves to change the space acquisition process.

“One of the things that Congress discussed when they passed the law that established the Space Force was the need to move at speed and to bring unity of effort across the department to reduce duplication,” Raymond said at the briefing. “This acquisition piece that the Secretary has really advanced from Day 1 coming in the office is a critical part of that.”