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Brig. Gen. Steve Whitney Talks SAF/SQ Mission Focus Areas, Adversary Threats in Keynote Address to GovCon Wire’s Space Acquisition Forum

Wednesday’s Space Acquisition Forum, hosted by GovCon Wire Events, brought together leading space experts from government and commercial organizations to examine the acquisition reform goals, technology focus areas and critical capability gaps shaping innovation across the space domain as the U.S. continues its pursuit of space superiority over global competitors.

Brigadier General Steve Whitney, military deputy at the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Space Acquisition and Integration, served as keynote speaker for the forum and delivered an opening address focused on the country’s greatest pacing challenges, rapidly evolving adversarial threats, reorganization strategies and acquisition transformation goals for advancing critical space capabilities.

SAIC’s space business unit Senior Vice President David Ray served as the event’s moderator and introduced Brig. Gen. Whitney to the virtual audience ahead of his keynote speech. Leveraging his experience overseeing Space Force programs worth more than $15 billion annually, Whitney kicked off the timely forum with insightful context on the work being done today by the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Space Acquisition and Integration.

If you missed Wednesday’s event, visit the GovCon Wire Events page to view the full Space Acquisition Forum and other webinars on-demand now.

Following a brief history of the SAF/SQ, Whitney provided a breakdown of the office’s core mission areas, key focus points and capability development goals.

“We focus on architecture interoperability. We focus on space science and technology. We focus on delivering capability and we focus on the integration of all of that together to get the best capability out there,” Whitney said of his office.

“In short,” Whitney said, “We’re setting the future of space acquisition, and we’re doing that for both the programs, the organization and just as importantly, the people.”

Whitney further explained that the time for acquisition reform is now, as the world sits on the precipice of an industry evolution surrounding the production and manufacturing of space-based technologies and capabilities.

He likened the potential future of space production to Henry Ford and the Model T, which he said “revolutionized the transportation industry.” Whitney envisions a similar revolution in space as the burgeoning private space economy continues its rapid expansion and requires quicker, more robust innovation to respond to global advancements.

The urgency of these innovations is highlighted by what Whitney called “recent indiscriminate and belligerent behavior in space” from the country’s adversaries.

“Space is not a benign environment, and our old ways won’t keep up. So we have to change, we have to evolve and our office is dedicated to making that happen,” Whitney stated.

Along these efforts, Whitney mentioned the importance of strong partnerships, and specifically his office’s partnership with Congress, as integral to accelerating the speed of innovation in space.

He pointed to Congress’ BA 08 fund, which combines several programs into a single appropriation category for software development, as a key driver of more optimized and streamlined acquisition processes.

Whitney said the BA 08 “allows us to take all of the funding for software – whether it be procurement, research and development, or operations and maintenance – and put it into a single color, or a single fund, if you will, and treat it as research development funding.”

To hear Brig. Gen Whitney’s full keynote address, including his three key message points to industry on how to build greater communication, collaboration and success with space agencies, visit the GovCon Wire Events page where you can view the full Space Acquisition Forum on-demand.

GovCon Wire Events will host its next webinar, the Federal Aviation Administration: Climate Change Priorities Fireside Chat, on Jan. 26.

The event features an exclusive conversation with keynote Kevin Welsh, executive director for the FAA’s Office of Environment and Energy, who will speak on how specific policy measures, sustainability initiatives and innovation strategies outlined in the FAA’s Aviation Climate Action Plan will help the administration mitigate the effects of climate change and contribute to a more sustainable aviation industry.

Visit the GovCon Wire Events page to register for the FAA: Climate Change Priorities Fireside Chat on Jan. 26.

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