Wynne, Air Force Best to Oversee Space

The role of executive agent for military space programs should be restored to the Air Force, says former USAF Secretary Michael Wynne. “I think it has got to go back,” Wynne told the Daily Report during an interview July 28. The Air Force, he said, “has got

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the crispest procurement group out there” [i.e., the most expertise] for managing DOD’s big-ticket satellite and launch programs, Wynne said, referencing the service’s Space and Missile Systems Center, its space acquisition arm, at Los Angeles AFB, Calif. “They are doing good things. They are doing it right [and] on schedule.” The Air Force possessed milestone decision authority for DOD’s major space programs until March 2005 when the Office of the Secretary of Defense assumed that role. At that time, there was a USAF leadership vacuum between President Bush’s first and second term and many of the service’s high-profile space programs were facing significant challenges. Interestingly, it was Wynne, the Pentagon’s acting acquisition czar back then, who took the authority away. But things are different now, he said. Recently John Young, the Pentagon’s current acquisition chief, said he intends for his office to retain the authority. Meanwhile, Acting Air Force Secretary Michael Donley, nominated to be Wynne’s successor, stated in mid July his desire for the Air Force to regain the authority as soon as possible. Wynne said he thinks Young’s confidence level in the Air Force just needs to increase for the restoration to be possible. The recent protest rulings by the Government Accountability Office against the Air Force in the KC-X tanker and CSAR-X helicopter contests should not “obfuscate … the excellence that is going on in Los Angeles,” he said.