Congressman Michael Turner

Representing the 10th District of Ohio

Congressman Turner's Opening Statement for Hearing on Space Systems Acquisition and the Industrial Base

May 1, 2009
Speeches and Floor Statements
Today’s hearing comes in the middle of our full committee’s legislative efforts to address defense acquisition reform. Our intent here is to examine, in greater detail, one segment of this broader issue – challenges in space acquisition and the industrial base.
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Michael Turner, Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces, today released the following prepared remarks for the subcommittee’s hearing on space systems acquisition and the industrial base:

“Today’s hearing comes in the middle of our full committee’s legislative efforts to address defense acquisition reform. Our intent here is to examine, in greater detail, one segment of this broader issue – challenges in space acquisition and the industrial base.

“Forming the basis of our hearing today is some excellent work produced by the Department of Defense’s Cost Analysis Improvement Group (CAIG) and the Government Accountability Office (GAO). The data contained in the CAIG study presents a stark picture of national security space. Nearly every single defense space acquisition program is over cost and behind schedule. Our space budget is the highest to-date, yet we launch fewer satellites per year than ever before, and we have no inventory of satellites to provide insurance for an already fragile space constellation.

“We appear to be in a precarious cycle. With fewer satellites being launched, the requirements for each grow because that satellite must now be many things to many users. Satellite complexity grows, schedules expand, and costs balloon. High costs and long schedules mean we launch fewer satellites, and we’re back to where we started. All the while, the pool of experienced personnel continues to shrink.

“The principal question becomes, how do we break this cycle? How do we maintain a healthy industrial base and keep smart scientists and engineers engaged when there are diminishing opportunities to design and build new satellites? Do we need to make fundamental changes to our space architecture and investment strategy to sustain robust on-orbit constellations and greater stability in the industrial base?

“Based on the statements submitted by our witnesses, there seems to be consensus on what should be fixed in space acquisition. These recommendations sound like common sense—realistic cost and schedule estimates, requirements matched to resources, mature technology, stable budgets, and an experienced workforce. My question for our witnesses is then, how do we put these sound recommendations into practice? What are the barriers that have prevented them from taking root in the Department? Furthermore, with an acquisition strategy based on evolution, how do we preserve our cutting-edge science and technology and create the right ‘on-ramps’ to incorporate these technologies into acquisition programs?

“As our subcommittee deliberates the fiscal year 2010 budget request for space programs in such areas as missile warning, protected communications, and imagery intelligence, we will be looking to apply these acquisition recommendations and lessons learned from the past.

“Lastly, the statement of one of our witnesses’ notes the negative impact that U.S. export control policies have had on the health of the space industrial base. Representing several of these second and third tier suppliers, I hear firsthand their concerns. I hope, in a bipartisan way, our committee can work together on a pragmatic approach that strikes a balance between protecting our unique, advanced space technology and capabilities, and promoting a viable defense industry that competes in the global marketplace.

“Our witnesses bring a diverse cross-section of government and industry views on these challenging acquisition and industrial base issues. I look forward to their testimony.”