The Space Rapid Capabilities Office was created in tandem with the Space Force and the US Space Command; During his two-year tenure, the store was tasked with quickly delivering some of the top-secret programs to these organizations.
Now, Space RCO Director Michael Roberts shares some of the stats, successes, and challenges faced by the office as he helped bring business ideas from the prototyping phase to the actual programs of the new military arm of the country.
Space RCO is currently working on 13 acquisition programs, Roberts said Thursday at a National Space Security Association event. The office plans to expand to 14 programs in the near future.
“We have about five people on average on each program, that’s it,” said Roberts. “This is how we keep our organization small and nimble. We also put the best of the best in these programs and they are all experts at what they do and can do it with a small team. “
Roberts said his office was working eight months faster than the Defense Department’s average pace for awarding contracts. Since the office has been active, it has awarded 50 contracts and plans to award five more by the end of the year.
Roberts attributed this success to diminishing responsibilities.
“All the authorities are delegated to the maximum, I cannot stress this enough,” he said. “It means I really don’t have a job. I delegate my authority to my senior materiel managers and materiel managers who manage the programs. The program managers on these in our building do have some decision space for costs, timing and performance in their portfolio. That’s it. They don’t have to come see me unless the law requires it.
Space RCO also works with a billion dollar contracting authority, which means it doesn’t need to go outside for approval until the contract exceeds $ 1 billion.
“We had to leave the office four times, and on those four times it took us less than 24 hours to get approval,” Roberts said. “It’s because our senior contracting officer, Major-General Camron Holt, understands the importance of what we’re doing and the importance of getting it done quickly. “
To increase speed, Space RCO is working closely with its board of directors to determine which programs need to be purchased quickly. Roberts presents his plans to the directors with a timeline and they help him find what he needs.
The office has also worked closely from the start with the US Space Operations Command. SpOC helps the RCO decide which Space Force deltas will get weapon systems and gives the RCO a user perspective on the products it purchases.
Roberts said he still relies heavily on the industry for his ideas. Space RCO doesn’t want to dictate what the business world does.
“The last thing I want to do is come into the industry and say ‘Hey, I’m going to build this widget, and it looks exactly like that,’” he said. “This is not how we do business. I say ‘This is the void we’re trying to fill, tell me how you would do it.’ This is how we create a solid industrial base, because there are 1000 different ways to potentially solve a problem. I’m looking for the best of the best and want everyone’s opinion on it, so we do it a little bit differently.