James “Hondo” Geurts, assistant secretary for Research, Development and Acquisition (ASN (RD&A)) with the U.S. Navy, delivered his keynote address during Potomac Officers Club’s 2020 Navy Forum on September 30th.
If you missed the event, you can still register to watch the footage in Potomac Officers Club’s Event Archive.
As the Navy’s acquisition executive, Geurts has oversight of an annual budget in excess of $100 billion and is responsible for equipping and supporting the finest Sailors and Marines in the world with the best platforms, systems and technology as they operate around the globe in defense of the nation.
Vince Vlasho, Accenture Federal Services’ (AFS) Defense Sector Portfolio lead, introduced Geurts before his keynote address. Vlasho stated: “[Geurts] holds one of the most important roles in the U.S. Navy. He is known for his innovative and collaborative teamwork, which makes him the perfect keynote for today’s forum.”
Geurts began his keynote address by discussing the current environment of the defense landscape, as well as where he sees the U.S. Navy heading in the future. Within operations, the U.S. Navy has not received more work, and “worked to rapidly adapt” to COVID-19.
“We will continue to be a maritime nation. 90 percent of world trade happens on the ocean. 99 percent of the cloud is underwater, through cables, which the navy is responsible for. We have been working hard to sustain that level of commitment to stay deployed. I am outcome focused and measure our success by our equipment and support of our forces,” Geurts stated.
The maritime services have advanced collaboration across operations, planning and acquisition sustainment and readiness. Geurts stated that the Navy is transforming from alignment to integration with other service branches. The integration will present new opportunities, such as transforming IT systems.
Geurts then discussed business transformation. COVID-19 was expected to disrupt business; however, the Navy has accelerated contracts and outcomes. The Navy is in a record breaking year for awarding contracts, with the current value exceeding $143 billion. The service branch is also expected to break and exceed goals for small businesses. The Navy has increased both efficiency and collaboration.
“We are in journeys as to how we reshape readiness. We have had a concerted effort to transform our capabilities. With ship building, we have loaded the industrial base and continue to look for ways to procure and increase speed. We’re placing assets into the fleet to sustain operational tempo.”
Within technical readiness, Geurts noted that the Navy is recrafting acquisition and technical architecture to receive higher international speed and break barriers to entry for small businesses and unique capabilities. The Navy has completed the largest migration in government history, moving ERPs to the cloud to develop a unified architecture for enhanced operations and speed.
“We are working to decentralize how we execute and empower our workforce, then pivot the digit in its full form as we go forward. We also look to new technologies, not to tackle new problems, but also to solve old problems. We want to decentralize to increase speed in how we execute and power our workforce with new tools,” Geurts said.
As the Navy moves toward the future, Geurts stated that the department will continue to emphasize the maritime domain. The Navy will respond by distributing operations and finding new tools to reduce fixed overhead, as well as create flexible architectures so that the defense sector can adapt. Geurts noted that the Navy has shown a 30 percent increase with 90 percent telework.
“We want to increase efficiency through our ecosystem of partnerships that build resilience in the system. The organization that can adapt the fastest will win. That will take all of us working together, not by activity, but by outcome. If we can’t deploy our solutions, then we haven’t done our job to its full extent,” Geurts concluded.
Susan Lawrence, managing director of the Joint Forces Sector with Accenture Federal Services (AFS) and Wash100 Award recipient, facilitated questions for Geurts through the virtual Q&A section of the event. Lawrence also served as the moderator for the panel, following Geurts’ address.
Potomac Officers Club’s Fall CMMC Forum will feature Katie Arrington, chief information security officer (CISO) at the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and a 2020 Wash100 Award recipient, as a keynote speaker.
As the first Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC) RFPs quickly approaches, it is essential that organizations and companies shift gears to CMMC preparation. CMMC is not just about fixing a gap or implementing a control, it’s about an organizational behavior, such as Practice Maturity and Process Maturity, which is essential for Level 3 and higher.