Space Force effort to open doors to private sector is a slow go

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Companies seeking help through the Space Systems Command 'Front Door' initiative can expect to wait several days for a response

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Space Systems Command has actively promoted a new initiative to help commercial companies do business with the government called “Front Door.” The effort, however, is off to a slow start as the command irons out some wrinkles in the program, SSC executive director Joy White said July 7.

The Front Door initiative is intended to provide a one-stop-shop for learning about contracting opportunities and engaging with SSC. It has been touted by SSC leaders as a response to frequent complaints from commercial firms and startups that doing business with the government can be daunting due to red tape and confusion about who’s in charge of what program. 

SSC officials said companies should email queries to SSCFrontDoor@spaceforce.mil. The head of the command Lt. Gen. Michael Guetlein said the idea is to assign officials known as “sherpas” to help guide startups and small businesses that are unfamiliar with defense procurement.

Speaking at a National Security Space Association online forum, White responded to questions about reported delays that companies have experienced in getting a response from Front Door. 

“Right now, I will say that I don’t believe it’s as fast as it will be,” she said.

She said the goal is to make Front Door work like an online store where customers can log into a live chat and get their questions answered. “That’s my vision for SSC Front Door,” Whites said. “That’s when you’re hooked in, you’re getting somebody immediately responding to you. So that’s the long term goal.”

For now, companies should expect to have to wait several days to get a response, White said. “We’re still manning up that office, and we’re still building up that capability. So my guess is right now you’re probably seeing a few days before you get engagement.”

White said SSC also is working to figure out an easier process to allow companies to participate in face-to-face “industry day” meetings the command plans to host on a monthly basis. The next one scheduled for July 28 will focus on cislunar space domain awareness, and another one later in the year on commercial data analysis tools.

“Your best venue for getting your name in and getting included is Front Door,” she said. “And I will acknowledge, as I said, it’s in its infancy.” Some industry days are not open to all as they require security clearances. “Those may be more challenging for some folks to be able to attend,” White added. “But generally we’re trying to get everyone in the door to the maximum extent practicable.”