The Navy has some ideas on the tough acquisition questions

Tight budgets are forcing the Navy to make tough choices in how it acquires technology and equipment. How the military service is navigating through the fiscal environment was discussed April 17 by a panel of high-ranking officers at the Navy League’s Sea, Air, Space exposition. 

The austere budget environment has made commanders and program managers more accountable for spending decisions, said Rear Adm. Patrick Brady, commander of the Navy’s Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command. “We basically don’t have the resources to let commands optimize their programs at the expense of the larger Navy,” he said.

Some programs have delivered systems that cannot really be supported by the fleet, Brady said. There is now a need to establish a baseline and governance capability to maintain quality and meet Navy requirements, he said.

One example of this is the Navy’s IT acquisition and approval process, which will help drive efficiency and effectiveness into the service’s IT procurements, Brady said. The new effort looks at Navy IT contracts to ensure that this is the right vehicle for the service. The directorate also examines and approves any technology purchases of more than $500,000.

Data center consolidation is also on the Navy’s radar. During the last budget cycle, Brady said that the Secretary of the Navy directed him to create a task force to assess and decide which data centers need consolidating and to report this information to the Chief of Naval Operations. The task force has found more data centers than expected and it now needs to examine the security gains achieved by consolidation, he said.

Another area that the command is focusing on is information dominance. Over a decade of warfare, this capability has gone from a "nice to have” to a key part of operations, Brady said. There was a need to establish a fleet readiness directorate for information warfare. This command, which has now been in operation of about six months is focused on meeting fleet information dominance needs, he said.

Managing logistics and the supply chain is another key area where the Navy seeks to increase efficiencies. The supply command transcends everything in the service, but it must be aligned with fleet and system commands, said Rear Adm. Mark Heinrich, commander of the Naval Supply Systems Command and Chief of the Supply Corps.

The command is working to increase ship based spare parts allowances. As the key provider of the Navy’s spare parts, the command has seen a decline in the effectiveness of supplying spares to Navy ships, Heinrich said. There is a real need to reassess this situation to maintain readiness, he said.

Another key area for the command is the Navy Enterprise Resource Planning System. “ERP is our weapon system,” Heinrich said. IT domain and infrastructure are key to managing effective logistics, he said. This includes business process management, IT and business management. Such a planning capability is necessary because it provides the foresight to put spare parts on ships where and when they are needed, he said.

The command is working with its automated business systems to ensure that they work, but Heinrich added that the Navy needs a standard business architecture to drive operational productivity, especially for logistics operations.

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