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June 20, 2018 | International, Naval

The Navy’s acquisition boss has a plan to get fleet maintenance back on track

WASHINGTON — The Navy's acquisition boss, aiming to get his arms around the long-term maintenance and ownership costs of the world's most complex fleet, has directed Naval Sea Systems Command to undertake an ambitious long-term plan for all the ships in the fleet.

James “Hondo” Geurts, the assistant secretary of the Navy for research, development and acquisition, has asked NAVSEA to compile a 30-year ship repair and maintenance plan that he intends to roll out alongside the annual shipbuilding plan.

“The idea is, we have this 30-year shipbuilding plan, that's only as good as our ability to repair and modernize those ships once we build them,” Geurts told a gaggle of reporters Tuesday. “So what we'd like to do is create the companion plan that takes the shipbuilding plan and what we have in inventory, then forecast and plan for all the repair and modernizations that we'll have to do.”

The Navy wants to have an idea, as it looks down to road, if it has the needed industrial capacity and infrastructure in place to meet the fleet's needs, which will become especially important as the fleet builds up.

In fact, the Navy struggles to adequately maintain the smaller fleet it has today. In testimony last week, NAVSEA head Vice Adm. Thomas Moore told House lawmakers that the net capacity private shipyards that handle surface ship maintenance was only 75 percent of what the Navy required.

During the past decade, the increasing demands on a smaller fleet drove deployment lengths to nine months or longer, which racked up a readiness deficit that the Navy is still working through. Deployment lengths have come back down closer to seven months, but the unpredictable operations tempo made it difficult for the Navy to plan yards periods and impacted the business of the private shipyards.

Geurts conceded that operations will undoubtedly impact a 30-year maintenance schedule but said having it on paper was the right place to start when managing complicated schedules.

“It's a very complex issue with inputs and outputs,” Geurts said. “But the only thing I know is the best way to get after a complex issue is laying out at least what you know and having that at least as a baseline so then when you have to do changes – for operational reasons of whatever — you are changing from a known baseline and you can understand quickly what the second and third order effects are. Like we do on new construction, I'd like to introduce that kind of rigor.”

Ultimately the hope is that industry can plan better with a long-term plan in place, Geurts said.

“My hope is if we can do that, industry can start planning resources, they can start hiring resources when they see the signal,” he said. “Right now we are not as well positioned in the future as I'd like to be.”

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  • Partnering With the U.S. Defense Industrial Base to Combat COVID-19

    March 23, 2020 | International, Aerospace, Naval, Land, C4ISR, Security

    Partnering With the U.S. Defense Industrial Base to Combat COVID-19

    Statement attributed to Lt. Col. Mike Andrews, Department of Defense spokesman: "The Department continues to aggressively partner with the defense industry to mitigate impacts from COVID-19. Under Secretary of Defense Ellen Lord's Acquisition and Sustainment leaders in Industrial Policy, Defense Pricing and Contracting, Defense Logistics Agency (DLA), and the Defense Contracting Management Agency (DCMA) have made significant progress this week in addressing specific concerns outlined by defense industry leaders. During the 4 daily COVID-19 update calls with defense industry associations leaders this week, led by Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Industrial Policy Ms. Jennifer Santos, several key concerns identified by industry included 1) critical defense contractor workforce ability to continue working; 2) ensuring cash flow to the defense industrial base; and 3) getting standardized guidance out to industry. On Friday the Department issued two memos that address all three concerns. After working closely with the Hill and the Department of Homeland Security, Under Secretary Lord issued a Defense Industrial Base Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce memo that defined essentiality in the Defense Industrial Base (DIB) workforce, ensuring the defense industrial base's critical employees can continue working. The memo also reiterated her commitment to the safety of the workforce and support of the national security mission. In addition, on Friday Mr. Kim Herrington, Director of Defense Pricing and Contracting, issued a Deviation on Progress Payments memo, which stated that once in contracts, the progress payment rate that contracts can get paid for will increase from 80% of cost to 90% for large businesses and from 90% to 95% for small businesses. This is an important avenue where industry cash flow can be improved. DCMA will work on mass modifications to contracts where applicable (vs one by one) using DCMA authorities. In addition, the Department is accelerating payments through several means to prime contracts and directing prime contracts to expedite payments to subcontractors. Vice Admiral David Lewis, DCMA Director, has worked closely with the contracting workforce and the Defense Finance and Accounting Services (DFAS) to ensure that invoices are continuing to be paid in a timely manner. On Friday, the Acquisition and Sustainment Small Business Office reached out to defense industry small businesses, and is working with the Small Business Administration and their small business emergency loan program to help protect these companies. The Department is fully engaged with the interagency to leverage the Defense Production Act to help reinforce critical elements of the DIB. It is especially important to understand that during this crisis the DIB is vulnerable to adversarial capital, we need to ensure companies stay in business without losing their technology. The Department will be discussing this in more detail next week. Under Secretary Lord remains grateful for the productive discussions with the defense industry associations, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Hill and State leaders. She's especially proud of the incredible efforts of Department leaders and contracting officers across the nation who are helping ensure a secure, reliable and resilient Defense Industrial Base."


    January 21, 2021 | International, Naval


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