The House Armed Services Committee’s (HASC) version of the fiscal 2022 defense authorization bill would permit the U.S. Space Force to put in place a Service Acquisition Executive (SAE) before Oct. 1 next year.
Section 957 of the fiscal 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), P.L. 116-92, said that the new assistant secretary of the Air Force for space acquisition and integration would not become the Department of the Air Force Service Acquisition Executive (SAE) for Space Systems and Programs–the Space Force SAE–until Oct. 1, 2022. Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall and other Department of the Air Force officials have supported a change to that language to allow better, focused management of USSF programs.
Section 912 of the HASC bill would amend the fiscal 2020 NDAA “by modifying the implementation date for having a Service Acquisition Executive for Space [Systems and Programs] in place to not later than October 1, 2022.”
“This section would also allow the Secretary of the Air Force to assign the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Space Acquisition and Integration duties and authorities of the senior procurement executive for space systems and programs,” per the bill.
Kendall said last week that he has a “short list” of potential nominees for Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and President Biden to consider as potential heads of space acquisition, as the authority for space acquisition shifts from the Air Force acquisition shop (SAF/AQ) to a reconfigured space acquisition and integration office (SQ), which Kendall said had primarily focused on policy (Defense Daily, Aug. 24).
Kendall named Brig. Gen. Steve Whitney, the director of space programs for acting Air Force acquisition chief Darlene Costello, to serve as the head of SQ.
Kendall said that his vision for the assistant secretary of the Air Force for space acquisition and integration “is that it should be largely a technical and managerial role that combines the traditional acquisition responsibilities with broader responsibilities for technical integration of space systems across the board, including with non-space systems in the ABMS and JADC2 environments.”
“What we like to call architecture definition, interface specification, open systems direction, and technical interoperability requirements will be a key part of this individual’s responsibilities,” Kendall said.
The HASC bill also includes an amendment by the committee’s ranking member, Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.), that says that SAE for Space Systems and Programs “may not establish a program of record for the Space Force unless the Service Acquisition Executive first determines that there is no commercially available capability that would meet the threshold objectives for that proposed program; and submits to the congressional defense committees such determination.”
On Sep. 1, HASC approved Rogers’ amendment as part of an “en bloc” package.