The Defense Department’s space acquisition leaders are convening to establish ways to keep its defense industrial base in business during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Members of the Space Acquisition Council are planning an “emergency” meeting in the near term with members of the Pentagon’s policy offices to establish ways to collectively support their suppliers, said Will Roper, the Air Force’s acquisition czar, in an April 16 media teleconference. The council is comprised of acquisition officials from the Air Force, Space Force, Space Development Agency, Missile Defense Agency and the National Reconnaissance Office.
“We’re all worried about the space industrial base during COVID-19, especially the smaller suppliers who are at risk and especially vendors who are reliant on commercial capital,” Roper said. “We do see hesitancy and conservatism starting to enter the market with all the uncertainty with COVID-19, [and] now’s the time for the government to make a bold move and stabilize those markets.”
The principals in the council, whose supply chains inevitably overlap, want to provide a “combined submission” of suggested support to increase their “punching power,” he noted. “I imagined that if we have combined inputs … that’s much more powerful than if it just came from a single organization.”
It is not yet clear whether the council would have the authority to enact some of their proposed support efforts themselves, or whether it would have to go through the Office of the Secretary of Defense first. The council invited Jen Santos, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for industrial policy, and Kevin Fahey, the assistant secretary of defense for acquisition, to join them at the emergency meeting – named thus since the council only recently met in early April and was not expecting to meet again so soon, Roper said.
“We’re all working together across OSD and the services, because we share a lot of same industrial base,” he said, citing propulsion as an area of common interest across the department.