[In response to SpaceNews recent article: Space Force official: To beat China, U.S. has to spend smarter – SpaceNews]
By NSTXL Newsroom
Beating China is not about spending more, it’s about spending smarter.
This is a strong message that both Col. Eric Felt, Director of Space Architecture and Integration, and Mr. Frank Calvelli, Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Space Acquisitions and Integration, are pushing across Space Force. According to the article, Mr. Calvelli promotes the need for speed in acquisitions, a point that many leaders across the DoD industry are advocating for as well.
The need for speed in acquisition – a phrase thrown around but how do we accomplish it? First, the DoD needs to look for innovative solutions in the commercial sector. Major technology advancements are happening beyond Silicon Valley. Many small companies have the cutting-edge technology that could help our Warfighter, but these small organizations have either not been tapped into by the Government or struggle with jumping into government contracting. Calvelli may have said it best, “Speed in acquisition is a very simple formula,” he noted, “You take advantage of commercial capabilities and you execute.”
One of the biggest barricades between small tech companies and DoD access to their technology is the government contracting process. This is where the use of Other Transaction Authority (OTA) contracts assist these smaller organizations, helping commercial innovators who already have this imperative technology apply it to our military systems. Through the use of OTAs such as the Space Enterprise Consortium (SpEC), the contracting process is streamlined, accessible, and less burdensome than the traditional Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) process. SpEC focuses on bringing in these overlooked companies with 72% of its members being small, non-traditional defense contractors.
According to the Director of the Space Portfolio at the Defense Innovation Unit, Steve “Bucky” Butow, spending smarter means putting Pentagon dollars behind contracts that benefit both Government and the private sector. It also involves choosing acquisition pathways that have proven to be successful in both speed and innovation. SpEC has demonstrated its ability to do both, with an average 120-day time to award and contracts like TETRA-5 and ORACLE that will respectively provide innovative solutions to space refueling capabilities and space situational awareness technologies.
SpaceNews quoted Col. Felt saying, “What’s so exciting to the Space Force and the space acquisition community about all this commercial innovation is that we can use it to maintain our technology lead, and deter conflict with our competitors.”
This directly resonates with NSTXL’s mission of supporting both government and industry across the entire project lifecycle and helping secure America’s position as the world’s leading innovator through contracting best practices, tools, and expertise that decrease costs, compress timelines, and improve outcomes.
We won’t beat China by merely spending more, but by the efficient, intentional, and proven effective use of Pentagon funds.