Donley Shifts USAF Space Authority

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U.S. Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley has signed off on a new organizational plan that, among other changes, formally hands off responsibility for space programs to his deputy, Air Force Undersecretary Erin Conaton.

While Air Force secretaries traditionally delegate oversight of the service’s space portfolio to an undersecretary, Donley’s Aug. 25 decision memorandum makes the move permanent. Additionally, the Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center, which previously reported to the commander of Air Force Space Command, will now take its orders directly from Conaton and her successors.

Donley’s memo overhauls an Air Force space management structure that has been in place for nearly a decade. “This new approach better aligns to today’s realities, while streamlining and clarifying the roles of the space-related offices assigned to the [Air Force secretary],” Donley wrote.

The overhaul follows a six-month review led by Richard McKinney, a Donley staffer who replaced Gary Payton this summer as the deputy undersecretary of the Air Force for space.

McKinney will now report to Conaton and be responsible for space policy and strategy, the memorandum said.