Williamsburg – 2014 Spring Board of Governors Meeting

AIA’s Spring Board of Governors and Membership Meeting in Williamsburg, Virginia attracted executives from 88 of the association’s full member companies. The extensive program featured an excellent lineup of senior administration and industry officials and seasoned commentators and experts, including:    Anthony Foxx, Secretary of Transportation; Robert O. Work, Deputy Secretary of Defense; Frank Kendall, Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics (AT&L); author and political pundit  Charlie Cook; Tony Tyler, Director General and CEO, International Air Transport Association; Fred Hochberg, Chairman, Export-Import Bank of the United States; and author, professor Jonah Berger.

This is first time that we’ve featured both the Deputy and Under Secretary of Defense on the podium before the full Board of Governors. They focused on existing threats, resources to address such threats, the  acquisition system, and working more closely with the private sector to meet the war fighters’ needs in these budget-constrained times. Members of the Executive Committee also met with both officials during breakfast prior to the sessions.

The Board meeting included two panel discussions – both centered on budgets, funding and finance, topics of great importance to our member companies during this time of legislative budgetary uncertainty. The first panel on the future of discretionary spending for the aerospace and defense industry was moderated by Steve Bell, Senior Director, Economic Policy, Bipartisan Policy Center (former senior staff official, U.S. Senate). The panelists included G. William Hoagland (Senior Vice President, Bipartisan Policy Center, former senior staff official, U.S. Senate), Douglas Holtz-Eakin (Former Director, Congressional Budget Office, and President, American Action Forum), Charlie Houy, (Former Senate Appropriations Committee Staff Director); and Kathleen Peroff (Former Deputy Associate Director for National Security, Office of Management and Budget, and Head of Peroff & Associates, LLC). The panelists provided an in depth discussion of the challenges facing the federal budget. In particular, they focused on trends in the defense budget that are squeezing out investment in the modernization and operating accounts, such as a reluctance on the part of Congress to accept proposals to bring down the benefit and excess facility costs.  They discussed the challenges inherent in reversing the Budget Control Act caps again in 2016 and suggested that Congress and the White House must address the real cause of the budget deficit and not continue to turn to discretionary federal budgets to find minimal savings.

The second panel was titled The Financial Frontier – New Space Business Opportunities in the 21st Century. Hosted by Carissa Christensen, Managing Partner of the Tauri Group, the panel included Tim Hughes (Space X), Lesa Roe, (National Aeronautics and Space Administration), and Jim Simpson (the Boeing Company).  Their discussion brought out the new opportunities that are emerging – from traditional markets such as communications satellites and NASA-run programs, to new markets such as suborbital passenger and research missions and commercial crew transportation. Their conclusion – the space market is growing and changing in exciting ways and US industry is leading the way.

Breaking mid-day for lunch, the Civil Aviation Leadership Council heard from  former Secretary of Transportation James Burnley and former FAA Chief Operating Officer David Grizzle regarding  the current state, reform and restructuring of the U.S. air traffic control system, and NextGen implementation. This was a timely discussion given FAA’s reauthorization is up once again in 2015.

Concurrently, the Space Council held a special lunch with Lesa Roe, Deputy Associate Administrator for NASA. She discussed the Technical Capabilities Assessment Team, or TCAT – an initiative launched in 2012 and designed to ensure the agency has the right mix of skills, facilities and equipment to execute its missions in coming years – keeping America the world leader in space.

Rounding out the speakers’ program was Wharton marketing professor Berger with a presentation on how ideas, slogans and product allegiance catch on. A number of member company representatives commented that Berger was one of the best featured speakers we’ve had during our two-day Board of Governors program. It also gave a boost to the importance of social media in driving brand following, especially our Second to None Coalition.

After a long day of business sessions, attendees were surprised with a last-minute schedule change that proved to be quite the presentation. While the special dinner speaker General Stanley McChrystal was delayed by weather and only able to attend the after-dinner reception, Rear Admiral and Seal commander Scott Moore stepped in and shared some of his experiences on high-profile missions. Among the stories he told to the captive audience were the rescue of Danish Aid workers Jessica Buchanon and Poul Hagen Thisted from Somalia hostage takers, Captain Richard Phillips’ on-the-water rescue from Somalia pirates, and the raid on Osama Bin Laden’s compound.

Other highlights from the Board meeting included the premier showing of a four-minute video on the 2014 Team America Rocketry Challenge competition and the unveiling of the AIA Second To None Coalition website.

We look forward to seeing AIA members for the fall Board of Governors meeting in Scottsdale, Arizona November 19-20, 2014 – details to follow.