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CBO Report: H.R. 2500, National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 (Space Force Excerpt)

Status Report From: Congressional Budget Office
Posted: Monday, July 1, 2019

Full document

Space Corps. Sections 921 through 925 would create a new military service to organize, train, equip, and operate space forces. The new service would be established in the Department of the Air Force, similar to how the Marine Corps is a component of the Department of the Navy.

Most of the personnel and assets for the Space Corps would be transferred to the new service from existing forces. CBO estimates that DoD has 22,900 military and civilian personnel who perform space-related activities. Many of those could be transferred to the new service and thus would not affect net costs. In addition, CBO estimates that the Space Corps would require between 4,100 and 6,800 additional personnel for new management and support positions. Those additional positions would increase costs. In total, CBO estimates the annual recurring costs and onetime costs of the new Space Corps would increase by about $3.6 billion over the 2020-2024 period.

Annual Costs. In a previous study, CBO estimated that the additional management and overhead positions required for this new military service would increase annual costs by between $0.8 billion and $1.3 billion (in 2020 dollars).

Those new positions would include new personnel to staff various headquarters and combatant commands, and personnel for recruiting, training, management, and other support functions. Those costs would increase over several years as additional positions are filled in phases. Based on information from DoD, CBO estimates that it would take about five years to fully staff the new service.

By taking the midpoint of the range from CBO's prior estimate, and adjusting for inflation, CBO estimates that salaries and expenses for those additional personnel would cost $1.0 billion by 2024 and total about $2.3 billion over the 2020-2024 period.

Onetime Costs. In addition to those annual costs, there would be onetime costs for new construction and renovation of facilities to house the added personnel and any existing personnel that would be relocated. There also would be onetime costs for such items as uniforms, signs, and stationary. In its earlier study, CBO estimated the onetime costs of standing up the new service would be between $1.1 billion and $3.0 billion (in 2020 dollars). On the basis of information on the timelines for previous construction and relocation projects, CBO estimates those onetime costs would arise over a period of eight years. Using the midpoint of the range from CBO's prior estimate and accounting for inflation, CBO estimates that the onetime costs for the new Space Corps would total $1.4 billion over the 2020-2024 period; some onetime costs would occur after 2024.

The creation of the new military service is part of a proposal to improve the organization of DoD's space forces and assets. The Administration also has proposed two more space organizations in its budget for fiscal year 2020: a new combatant command and a new agency that would develop and acquire space systems. CBO recently estimated that adding those two organizations would increase annual costs by between $320 million and $580 million (in 2020 dollars). Establishing those organizations also would incur onetime costs of between $740 million and $1,620 million.

However, CBO expects that the Administration can establish those organizations using authorities in current law; thus, CBO's estimate of enacting H.R. 2500 does not include costs for those organizations. There is significant uncertainty associated with CBO's cost estimates for creating a new Space Corps. Many decisions about the new service would have to be made in the coming years. Decisions about which military units and agencies would be transferred to the new service and whether to repurpose existing infrastructure or construct new facilities would significantly affect costs. Also, CBO's estimates of the additional costs of establishing a new Space Corps focus on overhead and management costs, and do not include the cost of adding new capabilities. The results of future decisions could make the costs of the new Space Corps significantly higher or lower than the amounts shown here.

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