Prompted by a controversial House-passed proposal to create a space corps in the Air Force Department, the Department of Defense has begun a “very good dialogue” with Congress on how military space activities should be organized, according to Pentagon acquisition chief Ellen Lord.

“I think what we’re doing right now is having a very healthy debate on what the issue is, where we need to go and how to best get there,” Lord told reporters Oct. 11 after speaking at the Association of the U.S. Army (AUSA) annual meeting in Washington, D.C. 

The space corps proposal is included in the House version of the fiscal year 2018 defense authorization bill. The Senate-passed version, by contrast, would ban the use of FY 2018 funds to establish a space corps. The matter will have to be resolved by the House-Senate conference committee that is writing the final version of the bill.

Space corps proponents contend that the new organization is needed because space management is fragmented and because space does not receive enough attention in the aviation-focused Air Force. Opponents, including Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson, have countered that a new bureaucracy would slow their efforts to coordinate space activities.

Lord, who took office in August, said that one space-related challenge that is already clear to her is that it takes too long to develop and field new software for ground stations that control satellites.

“There really is a critical need to get better, smarter, faster, cheaper with what we do,” she said.