Official Sees Smooth Trajectory For DOD Space Programs




 
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November 30th, 2006  
Team Infidel
 
 

Topic: Official Sees Smooth Trajectory For DOD Space Programs


National Journal's CongressDailyPM
November 29, 2006

The Pentagon's top space official today expressed optimism that the Democratic-led Congress would not make deep cuts in the military's space programs in the FY08 budget and beyond. In a series of meetings last year on the FY07 budget, discussions over space were not "of a partisan nature," presumably boding well for the programs in future years, said Air Force Undersecretary Ronald Sega, who is the Defense Department's executive agent for space.
Sega, speaking at a breakfast with reporters, later added, "I didn't see a partisan aspect in our work." In particular, Sega pointed out the support of space programs demonstrated by House Armed Services Strategic Forces Subcommittee ranking member Silvestre Reyes, D-Texas, who may be taking the gavel from Strategic Forces Subcommittee Chairman Terry Everett, R-Ala., in January.
But Reyes, Everett and other members of the congressional defense committees have long been skeptical of two of the military's high-profile satellite development programs, the Transformational Satellite Communications System and the Space Radar program. Lawmakers ordered the Air Force to restructure both programs in the FY06 defense authorization bill amid concerns of creeping costs and repeated program schedule changes that failed to get the systems on track. "Restructuring these programs was a bipartisan decision, an effort that I think will save both programs from experiencing cost overruns and schedule slips that have plagued them in the past," Everett said in May 2005.
But Sega today stressed that lawmakers' perceptions of the programs may be changing and noted that the cuts in the FY07 defense spending bill were far less stringent than before. Indeed, authorizers and appropriators reiterated their concerns about the programs in the FY07 defense bills, but acknowledged that program officials had been making progress.
In the FY07 defense spending bill, appropriators trimmed the so-called TSAT program by $130 million, compared to a $400 million cut in FY06. Similarly, the FY07 budget cuts in the Space Radar program were not as steep as in previous years -- $80 million, compared to $126 million in FY06. Sega said he is optimistic about the future of the so-called TSAT program, which he said is now on track, as well as Space Radar. If program officials "continue on the path and perform well and work with Congress and the Air Force at large," Sega said he does not foresee a major budget battle over the programs.
-- by Megan Scully
 


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