SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- James Geurts, Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development and Acquisition (ASN (RD&A)), spoke with the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR) workforce to highlight his priorities and answer questions on issues impacting the information warfare domain on Feb. 9.
Geurts was sworn in as ASN (RD&A) on Dec. 5, 2017 following his confirmation by the Senate in Nov. 2017.
In his opening comments, Geurts emphasized the importance of working with a sense of urgency and to make every day count, especially in the field of acquisition and innovation.
"Attack everything that you do with a sense of urgency," said Geurts. "To me, every person matters. If you're not being utilized to your full potential that's wasted energy for us. Every dollar matters. I'm not asking you to do more with less, but I am asking you to do the most for every dollar we have. Every day matters. If you can get something done in a day versus two days, do it. If we can figure out how to create a process so that we can get a decision a month faster; that gives us a month more time to do something else."
Geurts encouraged the SPAWAR workforce to make deliberate actions to challenge bureaucracy.
"If anything we are doing right now is not helping us to compete, deter or win if called on to, then we need to stop," Geurts said. "We have had the luxury over the last two to three decades ... to be risk averse or sometimes organizationally complacent ... we didn't always value the speed of decision making. That's changing and I need your help ... We have all the authorities we need to do the job, [but] we just need to figure out how to leverage all those."
The three main points that Geurts discussed revolved around the urgency to decentralize, differentiate and digitize.
"I want to decentralize. [Ask yourself,] how do we push authority down to where it belongs in an organization?" asked Geurts. "[Questions like this,] are going to get organizational speed. Authority needs to be placed where it belongs at the lowest level in an organization with the folks who know what's going on [and who know the program]."
Geurts stressed that organizations need to find the right tool for every job and take a little risk when it comes to trying something different.
"How we acquire systems out here should not necessarily be exactly how we acquire a new ship, airplane or [piece of] gear ... we trick ourselves into this 'one size fits all' model. We need to differentiate," said Geurts.
Industry uses digital technology to drive decisions and Geurts believes government entities need to follow the growing trend gaining traction in the commercial sector. Geurts acknowledged that a digital revolution exists and working with industry partners will only help build new ships, information technology devices and improve daily activities.
Geurts received a question during his presentation regarding fleet experimentation and how the bureaucratic nature of the government typically hinders SPAWAR scientists and engineers from testing new technologies and ideas on ships, submarines, airplanes and within the expeditionary environment.
"When you hear the Chief of Naval Operations talk about high-velocity learning, to me that equates to high-velocity experimenting in everything we do. Whether it's a business process or a prototype," said Geurts. "When we are doing this high-speed experimentation stuff [in the fleet], success or failure isn't whether it worked. It's whether you can tell me it worked or not [and how we can improve the processes]."
SPAWAR identifies, develops, delivers and sustains information warfighting capabilities supporting naval, joint, coalition and other national missions. SPAWAR consists of more than 10,000 active duty military and civil service professionals located around the world and close to the fleet to keep SPAWAR at the forefront of research, engineering and acquisition to provide and sustain information warfare capabilities to the fleet.
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