USA — Lynn Discusses Budget Priorities for Space

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., April 14, 2010 — Mil­i­tary space oper­a­tors and their pri­vate-sec­tor part­ners are going to have to find ways to grow capa­bil­i­ties while oper­at­ing in a fis­cal­ly con­strained envi­ron­ment, Deputy Defense Sec­re­tary William J. Lynn III said here today.

2010 National Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, Colo
Deputy Defense Sec­re­tary William J. Lynn III speaks at the 2010 Nation­al Space Sym­po­sium in Col­orado Springs, Colo., April 14, 2010.
DoD pho­to by Cherie Cullen

Speak­ing at the Nation­al Space Sym­po­sium, Lynn said Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s deci­sion to allow some growth in nation­al secu­ri­ty agen­cies was the right move. The pres­i­dent froze spend­ing for domes­tic agen­cies.

Nation­al secu­ri­ty agen­cies – includ­ing the Defense Depart­ment – are fight­ing two wars and work­ing to ensure defense of the home­land. “Even with the increas­es, some of the costs embed­ded in our bud­get are grow­ing faster than the bud­get as a whole,” Lynn said. Pro­grams such as mil­i­tary health care, wages and ben­e­fits, and some of the most advanced weapon sys­tems are like­ly to con­tin­ue grow­ing faster than the over­all bud­get, he added.

“This presents a dilem­ma,” he told the audi­ence. “Either the depart­ment, and the indus­tri­al base that sup­ports us, can become more effi­cient, or else we will even­tu­al­ly be forced to reduce pro­grams and ulti­mate­ly to dimin­ish capa­bil­i­ties.”

The chang­ing fis­cal envi­ron­ment also means large amounts of mon­ey will not mate­ri­al­ize to solve prob­lems mag­i­cal­ly, the deputy sec­re­tary said. “Our space indus­try will have to over­come the oper­a­tional chal­lenges,” he added, “while oper­at­ing in a cost-con­strained envi­ron­ment.”

Even with a con­strained envi­ron­ment, next year looks to be a remark­able one for mil­i­tary space, Lynn said. “We plan to launch the next block of GPS satel­lites, the first new pro­tect­ed [satel­lite com­mu­ni­ca­tions] satel­lite, and the first space-based sur­veil­lance satel­lite,” he said.

Acqui­si­tion reform plays a part. To ensure acqui­si­tion out­comes con­tin­ue to be suc­cess­ful and con­tin­ue to improve across the depart­ment, Lynn said, the Defense Depart­ment is tak­ing sev­er­al steps. “In many cas­es, we found the depart­ment was­n’t a smart buy­er,” he acknowl­edged.

Over the next five years, the depart­ment is increas­ing the acqui­si­tion work force by 20,000. This, Lynn said, will help the depart­ment nail down cost esti­mates in sys­tems engi­neer­ing and in pro­gram man­age­ment. “We’re mak­ing sure we get the right peo­ple, not just the right num­ber of them,” he said. Also, the depart­ment needs to exer­cise more dis­ci­pline in set­ting require­ments, the first part of the acqui­si­tion process, Lynn said, not­ing that acqui­si­tion reform requires the dis­ci­pline to can­cel pro­grams that either are not work­ing or aren’t need­ed.

“In 2010 and 2011 bud­gets, [Defense Sec­re­tary Robert M. Gates] has can­celled pro­grams that were per­form­ing poor­ly, pro­vid­ing redun­dant capa­bil­i­ties or sim­ply fund­ing capa­bil­i­ties that were not cen­tral to meet our secu­ri­ty chal­lenges,” Lynn said. The can­cel­la­tions saved tax­pay­ers more than $330 bil­lion. “By exer­cis­ing pro­gram dis­ci­pline,” Lynn said, “we are able to direct resources to the high­est-pri­or­i­ty needs.”

Indus­try, the deputy sec­re­tary told the group, obvi­ous­ly is crit­i­cal to mil­i­tary space progress. The space indus­tri­al base must be robust enough to accom­plish the nation­al space strat­e­gy, he said.

The econ­o­my has caused prob­lems for sup­pli­ers, and some may go under, Lynn said. In past eco­nom­ic down­turns, he added, the Defense Depart­ment and the gov­ern­ment essen­tial­ly invest­ed more mon­ey to sta­bi­lize the nation’s defense indus­tri­al base.

“But it would be irre­spon­si­ble to pur­sue that approach across the board,” Lynn said. “So we have to find new ways to achieve sta­bil­i­ty in the indus­tri­al base, while at the same time meet­ing the needs of our warfight­ers and tax­pay­ers.”

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)