U.S. Air Force Outlines Space Acquisition Philosophy, Priorities and Tenets

WASHINGTON (AFNS) — Honorable Frank Calvelli, Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Space Acquisition and Integration, released a memorandum Oct. 31 that aims to cement the Department of the Air Force’s space acquisition top priorities, philosophy, and tenets.

The document highlights DAF’s need to prioritize driving speed into acquisitions, building resilient space architectures, and integrating the space architecture with other domains to give warfighters a strategic advantage against potential adversaries.

“The traditional ways of doing space acquisition must be reformed in order to add speed to our acquisitions to meet our priorities,” Calvelli said. “Former approaches of developing a small amount of large satellites, along with large monolithic ground systems taking many years to develop, can no longer be the norm.”
To enable this philosophy going forward, the following nine tenets will serve as guideposts for space acquisition:

Build Smaller Satellites, Smaller Ground Systems, and Minimize Non-Recurring Engineering:
Build smaller satellites and use existing technology to minimize non-recurring engineering in order to shorten development timelines. Acquire ground and software intensive systems in smaller more manageable pieces that can be delivered faster.

Get the Acquisition Strategy Correct:
Establish good acquisition strategies up front including contract type and contract incentives for both speed, and performance.

Enable Teamwork Between Contracting Officer and Program Manager:
The relationship between the Contracting Officer and the Program Manager are key to any successful acquisition. Contracting Officers should be collocated within and be part of the Program Executive Officer teams.

Award Executable Contracts:
Evaluate cost and schedule realism as part of the proposal evaluation to avoid low bids and buy ins. Ensure companies have the correct skills to successfully execute the contract on cost, schedule, and meeting performance.

Maintain Program Stability:
Establish the contract cost and schedule baseline and manage to it. Push back on year-to-year budget changes that drive rebaselining which diminish speed from acquisitions.

Avoid Special Access Program and Over Classifying:
Putting programs in a Special Access Program hinders our ability to integrate space capabilities across other domains.

Deliver Ground Before Launch:
Ensure ground systems and modifications are completed and ready for operations before launch of a new capability. This will allow operations/users to take advantage of new capabilities after launch.

Hold Industry Accountable for Results:
Hold industry accountable to execute on cost, schedule, and meeting performance commitments on the contract.

Execute: Deliver Capabilities that Work, and Deliver them on Schedule and on Cost:  
Proactively manage the program by continuing to actively track schedule, cost, and technical progress. Identify issues early in order to quickly resolve them.

To view the memo click the link here.