On Wednesday June 13th, the Potomac Officers Club held the 2018 Navy Forum: Agility, Adaptability and Resiliency, featuring keynote speaker James F. “Hondo” Geurts, assistant secretary of the Navy for research, development & acquisition. Geurts discussed the Navy’s need to rethink information technology research and development, as they evaluate what already exists in the commercial marketplace and how they can more rapidly deploy it.
“If I look at the national defense strategy and how we are going to have to fight in the future, it’s going to be driven in large part by our ability to project power and forward presence,” Geurts told the audience.
Geurts said the document offers clear guidance on what to do and more importantly what not to do, outlining where the Navy needs to go, to compete and win, and where it can take risks. According to him, Naval acquisition must do four things to project power at scale:
- Deliver lethal capacity focusing on mission output. Evaluating lethal capacity as product of your capacity (how many things you have), your capacity (what each one of those things have) and your availability.
- Increase agility/pivot speed from both an acquisition and operational perspective. Geurts highlighted the need to decentralize operations (pushing authority down) and differentiating the work.
- Driving fundamental costs out of the system. Not simply reducing contract costs by a few percentage points but evaluating the front end and back end for improvement in efficiency.
- Develop talent to compete and win. It is a talent game and if you can’t attract talent you’re not going to win.
In addition, Geurts discussed the federal debate regarding centralizing vs. decentralizing the cloud. “I think if you can get efficient, it doesn’t have to be one size fits all,” he commented.
Geurts was confirmed to his post by the Senate in November.