Navy speeds acquisition amid COVID-19 outbreak

Navy Acquisition Chief James Geurts said acquisition activities have sped up in response to the coronavirus crisis and helped the service pinpoint weak spots in the supply chain.

The Navy has been awarding contracts faster since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, but one of the biggest gains have been systems that can assess supply chain weaknesses, according to James Geurts, the Navy's acquisition chief.

The Navy has spent the past two years building systems that can provide real-time visibility into its supply chain, where there were gaps for major programs. They've now overlapped that capability with hot-spot data, indicating where companies have shut down or there's been an influx in cases, Geurts said during a virtual fireside chat for the Navy League's Sea Air Space 2020 conference April 15.

Geurts said doing that allows the Navy to "see what suppliers are at risk. When we understand that, we can start managing those potential delays into our supply system." That information is then used to inform continuing operations, move supplies if needed and understand when suppliers are back online.

Geurts also said the Navy has geographically networked all of its 3D printers, which provides insight into where the need is on the local levels, "ensuring that we're not competing or conflicting with each other." Many organizations are using 3D printers to fabricate parts for medical devices and other needed materials that are not readily available through existing supply chains.

With contracts going out faster than anticipated, Geurts also said the Navy has been examining its business practices, learning how to better collaborate, reduce backlogs and not duplicate functions. All of that will hopefully aid in a faster recovery from the coronavirus, he said.

"Ships still have to come out on time, we've got to do the maintenance and continue to supply lethal capabilities to our sailors and Marines, and we can't afford to lag the recovery."

This article first appeared on FCW, a partner site with Defense Systems. 

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