Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall said on August 24 that the office in charge of Space Force acquisition projects will be reorganized. He’s also trying to get the Space Development Agency underneath the Department of the Air Force before the timeframe set by Congress. Kendall was confirmed as the department’s senior civilian by Senate in late July, controlling both the Space Force and the Air Force.
Kendall said he was “impressed” by how quickly the Space Force has advanced since its inception in December 2019 in a keynote address at the 36th Space Symposium. Procurement, on the other hand, has lagged, he claimed. The Space Systems Command is in charge of procurement for the Space Force. But, according to Kendall, establishing civilian control of space procurement at the Department of Air Force has not progressed as quickly as lawmakers would want.
The Pentagon was mandated by the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act to identify the senior acquisition executive post for the Space Force, with the position of assistant secretary in charge of the Air Force for the space acquisition and integration. Currently, the Air Force’s assistant secretary for procurement is in charge of both Space Force and Air Force projects, which include everything from planes to satellites. The National Defense Authorization Act gave the Air Force until October 2022 to establish the office and nominate an assistant secretary of Air Force for the space acquisition and integration (A&I).
Kendall stated that the A&I office will be established under the Department of the Air Force’s acquisition shop as soon as possible. SAF/SQ is the Air Force’s space acquisitions office, which is distinct from SAF/AQ, which manages Air Force projects. Shawn Barnes ran the A&I office for the last year, which was housed within the Air Force’s space policy shop. Kendall said he removed Barnes and temporarily placed Brigadier General Steve Whitney, director in charge of the space programs at Department of the Air Force, in control of space acquisitions until the president nominates and the Senate confirms an assistant secretary for the space A&I.
Barnes was reassigned to the Department of Air Force’s finance management office as a legislative liaison. Darlene Costello is now serving as the Air Force’s acting assistant secretary for acquisition. Andrew Hunter was nominated for this position by the Biden administration, but he has yet to be confirmed by the Senate. Kendall has direct control over Whitney and Costello.
Kendall stated that the Department of Defense is interviewing applicants for the position of space A&I and that a nominee will be revealed soon. “We are hopeful that in this year’s authorization bill, Congress will allow us the opportunity to go more quickly,” he said. Kendall is also starting the transition of the Space Development Agency (SDA) into the Department of the Air Force as an “immediate step.” SDA is now a Department of Defense organization that answers to Heidi Shyu, the undersecretary of the Defense for both research and engineering.