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CHIPS Articles: Section 233 Authority Allows NUWC Keyport to Scape the Cyber Barnacles

Section 233 Authority Allows NUWC Keyport to Scape the Cyber Barnacles
By Nathanael T. Miller, Naval Undersea Warfare Center Division, Keyport - October 3, 2019
The Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) Division, Keyport is moving forward under new authority granted by Section 233 of the FY 17 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to reduce barriers to the improvement of cybersecurity systems.

Section 233 of the FY17 NDAA allows selected DoD Science and Technology Reinvention Laboratories (STRLs) to propose and implement alternative methods for generating greater efficiency in research and development and enable a more rapid deployment of warfighter capabilities, including cybersecurity protection.

Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Research, Development and Acquisition) James Geurts issued two phases of Section 233 pilots. The Phase II, Sprint II Pilot initiatives delegates authority to STRL field activity commanding officers for Zones C and D Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation (RDT&E) networks. Previously, this authority that was held at the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) level, but NAVSEA followed Geurts’ lead and shifted that authority to its STRL commanding officers in August.

“This new authority pushes responsibility and accountability to the commanding officer level,” said Capt. Jon H. Moretty, NUWC Division, Keyport commanding officer. “This increases the level of knowledge of the Risk Management Framework process, improves the cybersecurity of the networks since they can achieve required standards and continuous monitoring in a more timely manner, and removes organizational roadblocks which stifle innovation and action. Removing roadblocks in one area of operations tend to be self-feeding as others see opportunities to increase velocity in their business or operations line.”

NAVSEA maintains a strategic roadmap called “Campaign Plan 2.0” that governs the priorities of all NAVSEA activities, including NUWC Division, Keyport. “Campaign Plan 2.0” calls for the empowerment of NAVSEA personnel in order to improve the delivery of innovative systems to the warfighter. NAVSEA’s Campaign Plan 2.0 goals of speeding up innovation and empowering its workforce closely align with Geurts’ Navy-wide efforts to speed innovation and “scrape the barnacles,” as he said during an all-hands call at NUWC Division, Keyport in August.

Moretty said the new authority enables STRLs like NUWC Division, Keyport to increase their institutional knowledge of cybersecurity while making risk decisions for stand-alone systems at the command level.

“The Section 233 Zone C and D pilot will increase our collective knowledge regarding cybersecurity by pushing ownership for standalone system to the Warfare Centers,” Moretty said. “It will also increase our knowledge of the Risk Management Framework across the enterprise. We in the Warfare Centers are encouraged by the new authorities and willingness of senior leadership to delegate authority to the lowest capable level in order to streamline processes and empower leaders. It is incumbent on us to follow their lead and identify where we are getting in our own way and holding our employees back from running at their full speed.”

Moretty said this new authority not only speeds up innovation and better empowers his team, it also offers a very real financial savings to the Navy. Providing good stewardship of financial resources is another of NAVSEA’s strategic pillars as NAVSEA seeks to maintain a culture of affordability.

“This authority enables a culture of affordability by improving productivity through the elimination of barriers and low value activity,” Moretty said. “Before this authority was granted, it would take up to 24 months for the Warfare Centers to navigate through the Risk Management Framework for Authority to Operate. By empowering the work force, that time will be significantly reduced while increasing network cyber resiliency and safety. The time savings result in cost savings in the millions of dollars when spread across the NAVSEA Science and Technology enterprise.”

Moretty said Geurts’ and NAVSEA’s efforts to “lean forward” and improve efficiency, empower the Navy’s workforce and speed up innovation are critical to maintaining the Navy’s dominance in the worldwide great power competition. This new authority will be a key part in achieving that mission by allowing well-managed STRLs to become even more nimble in their efforts to innovate solutions today for tomorrow’s fight.

“In order to succeed and ‘Win Tomorrow's Fight Today,’ we must all lean forward and take advantage of the opportunities afforded to us in pilot programs to demonstrate the gains in efficiency and subsequent cost savings,” said Moretty. “Secretary Geurts' mandate to ‘scrape the barnacles’ by removing administrative burdens or low value actions is a rallying call for us all to move out and use the authorities granted to us in his Section 233 pilots to accelerate capability to the operator at the highest quality, with the lowest cost in the shortest amount of time.”

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