Posted: January 11, 2018 6:00 PM

Navy Acquisition Chief: ‘Reliably Deliver Capable Capacity’

By RICHARD R. BURGESS, Managing Editor

ARLINGTON, Va. — The Navy’s new acquisition chief aims to deliver systems to the fleet that are capable and affordable, delivered with increased agility.

Speaking Jan. 11 to reporters at the Surface Navy Association National Symposium, James F. Geurts, assistant secretary of the Navy for Research, Development & Acquisition, listed his priorities as he settles into the job and absorbs the massive portfolio he has inherited. Geurts is a former Air Force colonel and acquisition chief at U.S. Special Operations Command, a job that required agile procurement to meet the needs of the special operations forces.

He said one priority is to “reliably deliver capable capacity … maximize the capability we have, whether new builds or extremely old builds.”

Another is to increase agility of procurement. Of the Special Operations Command procurement agility, Geurts described it as scalable to the Navy’s needs.

“What they [Special Operations Command] do well is speed of decision making,” he said. The Navy needed to “do the small things quickly and the longer things well.”

He said that even in large, longer programs, the Navy could build “agility cycles” within the progress of the program.

Geurts also pledged to drive a culture of affordability and address workforce concerns “that are going to allow us to do this for the foreseeable future.”

He noted that 70 percent of the cost of a program lies in the sustainment phase, saying that “making maximum use of what we have” is a priority.

He said that unmanned systems had a “huge future for the Navy” and that the future guided-missile frigate is “going to be critically important” to the Navy.

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