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May 16, 2011—Undersecretary of the Air Force Erin Conaton said she isn't discouraged by the recent House mark-up of the Fiscal 2012 defense authorization bill that denied the Air Force's request to use advanced appropriations as part of a new strategy to acquire future satellites.

"We'd prefer to do it with advanced appropriations, but we'll continue to work with [Congress] going forward," said Conaton said during an Air Force Association-sponsored Air Force Breakfast Seminar series event last week in Arlington, Va.

Utilizing advanced appropriations is one component of the Evolutionary Acquisition for Space Efficiency strategy, or EASE, that the Air Force unveiled in its Fiscal 2012 budget request. Advanced appropriations would lock in funding for the next five years or so unless a future Congress decided to take it away, providing more stability to the industrial base and helping lower costs.

However, in its mark-up, the House Armed Services Committee supported the service's request to use a fixed-priced contract to procure two Advanced Extremely High Frequency communications satellites and also gave the go-ahead to incrementally fund the satellites over the next five years. But committee members didn’t grant authority for the advanced appropriations.

"They gave us what we asked for for the first year [in terms of funding]. We can achieve EASE under the funding profile Congress has put in there," said Conation during the May 11 event.

She said she remains confident the Air Force still will see at least a 10 percent savings in space acquisition even without the advanced funding authority.

(See also Space Acquisition with EASE.)