The Future of Commercial Space Law and Regulation: Public-Private Partnerships – Obtaining Better Results in the U.S.

June 7, 2011 at 12:19 pm | Posted in Blogcast, Space Law | Leave a comment

by P.J.Blount with the blog faculty

After lunch, the first panel was moderated by Joanne Irene Gabrynowicz and dealt with Public-Private Partnerships. Panelists included Michael J. Mendelson, Asst. General Counsel, Intelsat; Charles Miller, Senior Advisor for Commercial Space, Office of Chief Technologist, NASA; and Don Conners, GeoEye, Inc.

Mendelson began by stating that the international legal regime was developed with the nation state in mind, and not commercial actors. He stated that this was a shortcoming. He then described how the Space Data Association was formed so as to create a private solution to this problem by sharing information among entities. He stated that this association was now beginning to work with government entities as a way to further increase risk mitigation.

Conners began by discussing trends in the public-private arena. He noted scarce funding, governmental actors are looking for cheaper alternatives, and governments are more interested in completing their own operations. He then stated that agreements that step outside of traditional government procurement contracting are very appealing to private companies. He noted that OTA other transactions agreements were more flexible and were favored by technology companies. He also stated that dual use technologies that have usage potential for private users as well as government users allowed companies to lower prices for government users. He stated that these types of partnerships tend to create a faster way for newly developed technology to get to the market.

Miller stated that the United States should dig deeply into Public-private partnerships in order to understand what has and has not worked. He then discussed Space Act agreements and how this “other transactions authority” helps to enrich NASA’s capabilities. He also stated that looking at other models, such as European ones, for these partnerships would help the parties get more out of these partnerships. Historically, he said, public-private partnerships have been used for building transportation infrastructure such as railroads and canals. He moved on to discuss how these partnerships can support national security imperatives. He stated that in the long term public-private partnerships are a fertile ground for development.

During the discussion the panelists highlighted that how to structure these partnerships was the biggest challenge. The stated that a one size fits all approach would not work. Each partnership depended on on the particular facts involved.

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