James “Hondo” Geurts, assistant secretary for Research, Development and Acquisition (ASN (RD&A)) with the U.S. Navy, will be featured as a keynote speaker during Potomac Officers Club’s 2020 Navy Forum on September 30th.
Potomac Officers Club’s forum will also feature an expert panel that will discuss how the pandemic has shifted modernization efforts and service branch priorities, supply chain, cybersecurity concerns as well as national defense initiatives and challenges.
COVID-19 Impacts on Federal Business
Geurts recently reported that the U.S. Navy will continue to revise its business procedures amid the current COVID-19 pandemic.
“We’re already amending some of our business processes, things where we were taking perhaps more time than we needed or not aggressively going after something as [much as] we could,” he said.
The Department of Defense (DoD) has expedited early research and development (R&D) efforts by working closely with academia and switching to a distributed research model, which will allow multiple organizations to work on initiatives more easily.
Geurts stated that the Navy is “understanding how to collaborate better” while working to expedite research and development activities through partnerships with academic entities.
He added that the Navy is implementing a distributed research framework to allow concurrent operations between multiple organizations. The service is additionally deploying a three-phase approach to prevent program delays and accelerate contract awards, said Geurts.
“What we can’t afford to do is take a year or two off of research and development, lose those key performers because they are key to our readiness five and 10 years from now,” he noted. “We’re looking to be as aggressive with them, if not more so, than we are with our more traditional defense partners.”
Navy Supply Chain Modernization
Geurts has also stated that the U.S. Navy has used its supply chain management platforms to track where factory shutdowns or delays could occur as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Geurts said the use of such systems has helped the Navy identify areas where production could be increased to protect its supply lines during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Navy has overlapped real-time data on COVID-19 and its impacts on the defense industry on top of its supply chain management systems to closely monitor where factory delays and lockdown orders could occur.
When the Navy reports a potential shutdown impacting its supply lines, it can respond by ramping-up production elsewhere or shifting plans to account for the lapse. The integrated data will also be used to ensure long-term R&D of emerging technology does not slow.
While the critical focus remains on ensuring national security-critical production and modernization continues, Geurts said he remains optimistic about the Navy’s long-term development. The Navy uses the Enterprise Resource Planning system and other supply chain management platforms that have been moved to the cloud.
“This impacts us in many different ways,” Geurts said. “This data knowledge lets us make smart, adaptive decisions.”
Geurts has also started new efforts to divide the program executive office (PEO) for enterprise information systems (EIS) and creating two separate offices. PEO EIS will be divided into an executive office for digital and enterprise services as well as an office for manpower, logistics and business solutions.
Ruth Youngs Lew, the executive officer at PEO EIS, will become "PEO Digital." Les Hubbard, executive director at PEO EIS, will lead "PEO MLB," according to Geurts.
Geurts added that the senior civilian for information warfare and enterprise services will oversee two "lines of effort" regarding the restructuring. One effort will focus on realigning each program office into one of the two new executive offices.
"LOE 2 will focus on assessment and realignment of related Navy and Marine Corps capabilities that currently reside outside of PEO EIS into the appropriate new PEO to address gaps in capability and provide portfolio wholeness," Geurts noted.
PEO EIS was responsible for managing the Next Generation Enterprise Network program, which delivers the Navy-Marine Corps Intranet. The division has an expected completion date of August 2020.
Cybersecurity & IT Modernization
Aaron Weis, chief information officer of the U.S. Navy and a 2020 Wash100 Award winner, recently reported that the U.S. Navy has made progress in two areas when it comes to strengthening its cybersecurity posture and one of those is from a “defend” perspective.
He cited the need to change the service’s perspective on cyber defense. “I talk a lot about moving from this culture of security by compliance to a culture where we have security as a constant state of readiness, where we’re always assessing our own readiness from a cybersecurity perspective,” Weis added.
He commented on the Navy’s complete reassessment of its risk management framework. “They’re refining and returning RMF to be more responsive to reflect current state and to be able to be a more consistent indicator of risk management versus the one and done,” he said of the Navy.
Weis also offered updates on the service’s identity management pilot in conjunction with the Navy’s Enterprise Resource Planning system as well as on software-defined networking initiative and logistics effort, particularly the log IT systems portfolio.
Navy Fleet Expansion
The U.S. Navy and Defense Secretary and 2020 Wash100 Award recipient Mark Esper have made recent efforts to expand the service branch’s fleet to at least 355 ships to keep pace with Chinese military modernization. However, the Navy has faced recent challenges to keep up with the capacity, Breaking Defense reported on Tuesday.
The Navy has faced recent obstacles in performing scheduled maintenance work. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has recently reported delays, noting that carriers are averaging 113 days late, while subs are coming in 225 days late.
To combat the challenges as the service branch works toward modernization Geurts has developed plans for the shipyards and shipbuilders in the case of American ships damaged by the Chinese or Russian fleets.
Geurts established the Wartime Acquisition Scalable Plan, to look at the US industrial base “beyond the traditional defense companies and its suppliers in order to meet the national defense strategy and the department of Navy’s readiness priorities to build and sustain a lethal naval force,” said Navy spokesman Capt. Danny Hernandez.
Geurts’ team will continue to expand how the Navy could rapidly increase shipbuilding. RADM Tom Anderson, program executive officer-ships, said “how prepared are we to go to the fight, and what would we do and how do we get better prepared,” to rapidly push ships out to sea and repair them when they came back.
The U.S. Navy has continually worked to decentralize, differentialize and digitize the service branch’s work as well as develop its talent in the field. Additionally, the Navy has accelerated acquisition channels, modernized emerging technologies and increased research and development to become more effective in warfare.
As the Navy continues to evolve to meet the growing demands, challenges still remain. Join Potomac Officers Club’s 2020 Navy Forum to hear notable industry and federal leaders discuss the initiatives, efficiencies and challenges the service branch faces as well as how to join together to improve the future of warfare.