The Challenges of Space Management and Organization
Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley
Remarks at the National Space Symposium, Colorado Springs, Colo., April 13, 2010
Space continues to be one of our Air Force's most critical missions, and when you think about it, our Space professionals are truly the Air Force's pioneers in so-called "unmanned" or "remotely piloted" systems.
For several decades they have ensured access to space through the development of critical missile warning, GPS, satellite communications, and weather satellites; the fielding of increasingly more reliable space lift; and the operation of launch sites and ranges to successfully get these critical payloads into orbit in support of our warfighters, and the nation.
Tonight, I would like to share with you a few of the challenges that we are facing in the management and organization of our Space enterprise and the efforts we are undertaking to address them.
The last major restructure of the Air Force's organization and management for space took place from 2001 to 2003, as a result of recommendations from the Congressionally-directed Commission to Assess U.S. National Security Space Management and Organization - often referred to as the "Space Commission."
Some of the key recommendations that were implemented were:
· The Under Secretary of the Air Force being designated as the Director of the National Reconnaissance Office, and as the Air Force Acquisition Executive for Space
· Our headquarters and field commands being realigned to focus efforts on Space
· With Space acquisition responsibilities moving from the Assistant Secretary for Acquisition to the Under Secretary of the Air Force
· The establishment of a virtual Major Force Program to track Space funding
Also recommended in the Commission's report, and implemented in 2003, was the designation of the Secretary of the Air Force as the DOD Executive Agent for Space, with the ability for the Secretary to delegate these responsibilities only as far as the Under Secretary, which was done. With this designation, the Executive Agent had Milestone Decision Authority for all DOD Space Programs and the responsibility for recommending DOD-wide planning and programming guidance with respect to space programs.
In addition, an office was stood up to support the Executive Agent in the execution of these duties and the development of integrated space architectures - and that office eventually evolved into the National Security Space Office, or NSSO.
For a brief period, these changes produced a relatively strong organizational structure, in which a single DoD official had, in effect, triple-hatted authorities and responsibilities for space. With the Under Secretary of the Air Force serving not only as our Under Secretary, but also as the DOD-level Executive Agent for Space, and the Director, NRO.
But the confluence of these responsibilities and authorities did not last for long. The implementation of new laws, organizations, and authorities over the past seven years have impacted many of the underlying conditions for our space organization, including the Air Force relationship with the NRO and the Executive Agent's responsibilities for space acquisition matters.
I'll mention some of the highlights --
· In 2003, the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Intelligence, was created - USD(I) would be the fourth senior OSD official - in addition to the Under Secretaries for AT&L and Policy, and the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Network Information and Integration - with assigned responsibilities for some aspect of space oversight.
· In 2004-5, the Intelligence Reform and Terrorist Prevention Act, IRTPA, formally defined the intelligence community to include the NRO, and the NRO was subsequently separated from the duties of the Under Secretary of the Air Force. Eventually, NRO personnel billets and resources were withdrawn from the National Security Space Office.
· Also in 2005, Milestone Decision Authority for Space Programs was returned to the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition Technology, and Logistics - (AT&L).
· In 2007, the office of Operationally Responsive Space - ORS - was established by Congress to report directly to the Executive Agent for Space.
· In 2008, a separate budgetary Major Force Program, MFP-12, was directed by Congress to be managed by OSD.
· And finally, within the past year, National Security Space Policy 03-01, regarding the Space Acquisition process, was rescinded and the Defense Space Acquisition Board was dissolved - with its functions transitioned into the Defense Acquisition Board. And Congress directed that the NSSO be realigned to the Under Secretary for Acquisition.
There is certainly much more to the story - changes in the Unified Command Plan, long personnel vacancies in the Air Force, controversial space program decisions, and many points of view regarding the wisdom and rationale behind each and all of these changes. But the bottom line is simply that these changes have reached the point where it is now time for the Air Force to review headquarters management of the space enterprise; and to consider with our DOD and interagency partners how we can better coordinate our work to serve the Nation's growing space needs.
Last December, we set in motion a study to develop and assess options for improving how the Air Force manages its assigned responsibilities related to space - to include planning and programming, acquisition, oversight, and coordination with other Department of Defense components, other government departments and agencies, and partners in the commercial and international arenas. Ultimately, the goal is to improve our internal and external unity of effort, and especially to strengthen the efficiency and effectiveness of the Air Force as a key component of the DOD and national security space enterprise.
We are focusing on three areas. First, it is necessary to clarify and streamline space functions within the office of the Under Secretary of the Air Force. The Under Secretary currently has five direct report organizations with space responsibilities for either Air Force or Executive Agent- related functions. Taking into account the changes just described, we need to adjust and clarify the 'swim lanes' for those direct reports. In addition, we also need to account for the broad, Chief Management Officer role recently assigned by Congress to the service Under Secretaries. While some believe that the triple-hatted arrangement worked well for the oversight of space-related activities, it is less clear whether the Air Force had an Under Secretary performing the broad range of duties comparable to Under Secretaries in the Army and Navy. In any event, we will need to be clear about who will be the focal point for space in the Air Force headquarters.
Second, we need to reaffirm the roles, functions and relationships among space-related activities across the Air Force and, again, within our headquarters. One of our challenges has been the connections among the separate, space-related functions assigned to the Under Secretary, and acquisition, programming, and similar work performed in other parts of the headquarters; and also the connections between Executive Agent and Air Force work. I have experienced the uncomfortable schizophrenia of building consensus and gaining interagency agreement on a particular matter wearing my Executive Agent hat, only to learn later that the Air Force did not concur with the outcome. I should note that - once it was recognized - the Air Force non-concurrence was quickly corrected. So, as we work through the functions assigned to the Under Secretary, we will also need to clarify the desired relationships across the headquarters and the rest of the Air Force.
Third, we need to clarify our space-related relationships outside the Air Force. Given the changes we've outlined, we need to ask: What are the intended roles and functions going forward for the Executive Agent for Space? How can we improve coordination between Air Force and Executive Agent activities, our other Service partners, and our overseers in the Office of the Secretary of Defense? And how can we further strengthen our continuing partnership with the NRO, other elements of the Intelligence Community, and interagency partners such as NOAA and NASA? In these areas, especially, we are eager to collaborate with our OSD and interagency partners on effective structures for space governance. And collectively, we must also clarify the means and mechanisms that will enable us to strengthen our partnerships with allies and industry.
In working through how we can strengthen these external relationships outside the Air Force, and strengthen DOD coordination and governance of space matters, it's clear that we cannot proceed alone. And I am encouraged that Dr. Carter's Space and Intelligence Office has begun a dialogue within OSD to help the Air Force and DOD leadership address these issues. Both Secretary Gates and Deputy Secretary Lynn, who joins you tomorrow, recognize the importance of DOD's space enterprise, its value to the warfighter and our broader national security community, and the Air Force role in this work. I look forward to working with our OSD colleagues and others as we finalize the options and recommendations that will emerge from the Air Force study in the weeks and months ahead.
These decisions are but the first few steps toward improving our stewardship of this vital element of our national security. As we consider the shifting management landscape, it is important to keep sight of the strategic challenges before us.
We are at a point of inflection in our Air Force history, where changes in the strategic environment, new technologies, and changes in resources intersect and will influence how we reshape our capabilities. The dynamic nature of the international environment, marked by considerable uncertainty, demands us to make strategic choices as we prepare for adversaries of the future. Yet our options are increasingly constrained by fiscal realities. So, in addition to the study we are completing on headquarters organization, there are numerous other studies either underway or just being completed that address many other choices made necessary by these conditions.
One of the most important of these studies is the Space Posture Review - or SPR. The SPR Interim Report, which was submitted to Congress earlier this year, highlights that the U.S. is increasingly reliant on space for its economy, security and prosperity. Global reliance is also increasing, with evolving space capabilities presenting both challenges and opportunities. At the same time, Space is an increasingly congested and contested environment, making Space Situational Awareness especially important.
In the area of Space Launch, the government currently has a number of studies that are being conducted to evaluate current programs and processes, and identify areas where we can be more efficient. Two of the more significant of these studies are the Launch Broad Area Review - a follow on to the original BAR, conducted 10 years ago - which is due out this month, and the Congressionally-directed Independent Cost Assessment on launch, which OSD has just completed.
Similarly, the studies being performed by DOD, NASA, and the NRO focus on acquisition strategies that will increase program stability and transparency. The broad goal is to identify ways to reduce program and launch costs, and develop launch technologies and capabilities to ensure our continued success in the future. At the same time, we must not sacrifice the exceptional mission assurance and launch success that have marked these programs for the past 10 years.
While continuing to strengthen the Air Force stewardship of space, sustaining operational success is also a continuing charge.
Last year we continued the string of 65 consecutive, successful national security space launches, including the 600th launch of the Atlas rocket. These launches took place from nine ranges, which support both national and commercial requirements. We've also tripled the wideband satellite communication capacity that we had from the entire legacy Defense Satellite Communications Satellite constellation, with the launch of three Wideband Global SATCOM satellites into operational orbit.
Our space professionals are supporting ongoing combat operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, and the Horn of Africa with more than 2,500 Space Command Airmen forward-deployed. But equally impressive perhaps is that there are 46,000 active duty, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve Airmen, government civilians, and contractors who are "deployed in place," supporting space operations worldwide, 24x7, from their home station.
Space is a core function for our Air Force; and the missions performed in this domain are indeed critical to our operational effectiveness, to joint warfighting success, and to our broader national security. This is vitally important work to which we are deeply committed.
Thanks to each of you for your personal and professional commitment to strengthening our nation's space enterprise; and to the Space Foundation for your support of this conference. As we go forward together in this work, it remains an honor for me to serve with you in the world's finest Air Force.