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CHIPS Articles: Talking with Scott R. Randall

Talking with Scott R. Randall
SPAWAR Deputy Commander
By CHIPS Magazine - October-December 2003
CHIPS: As the new Deputy Commander for the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command, would you tell us about your previous professional experience and how it prepared you for the responsibilities as SPAWAR's deputy and senior civilian employee?

Mr. Randall: In my 31 years of government service — all with the Navy — I have served in a variety of positions from junior engineer, to division head, to program manager; and finally, to program director with the three major Systems Commands: Naval Sea Systems, Naval Air Systems and SPAWAR.

In addition to program management, my time as a technical director for a field-activity organization afforded me valuable insight into the staff functions of how organizations operate. This experience with the "back-office" operations of a command is invaluable in my current job. I think this combination of programmatic and organizational leadership, as well as my experience at the headquarters and field level, are complementary in achieving SPAWAR's mission and goals in the future.

Just as important as these factors, is the experience of implementing initiatives that span "the enterprise." We have learned in order to achieve maximum efficiencies in our business practices, as well as maximum effectiveness of our warfighting systems, we must be interoperable across organizational boundaries. That applies not only to the Navy but also to the Army, Air Force, Marine Corps and beyond. My experience with implementing NMCI certainly opened my eyes to the vast challenges of executing programs of that scope, but that is where we must continue to go in implementing new technology and products for our warfighters.

I've got to say that I've enjoyed all of my jobs within the Navy. Each had its own set of challenges, but also each has had a common set of rewards — working with top-notch professionals, working at the leading edge of technology, and most of all, contributing to the nation's defense. If I had to tell someone why they should consider working with, or for the Navy, that is the message I would give.

CHIPS: What are your responsibilities as the Deputy Commander?

Mr. Randall: The responsibility that I'm focusing on is the strategic planning for our claimancy nationwide — with a $4.7 billion annual budget — including five field activities, two Program Executive Offices and the Director NMCI. As you know, information technology moves at the speed of light and we need to at least stay abreast of that pace, if not out in front. We're in the process of transforming that process to not only provide our people some coherent direction, but at the same time, maintain the flexibility to quickly change as the technology and environment continue to evolve. Our warfighters need the latest and the greatest. They need it now, and they need it in numbers to win wars. Providing that to them is job number one in our business, and proper planning and execution are how we succeed.

As demanding of my time, is overseeing the day-to-day operations of the command; and what I consider my most important responsibility — taking care of our people. Most of our 7,700 employees are civilian; and as the senior civilian, people look to me for mentoring and leadership. It is the one role that I have learned is critical in ensuring the organization is productive and effective. This becomes even more challenging in today's environment of constant and accelerating change, and also with the resource pressures of meeting the modernization goals of the Naval Services.

A relatively new role in my position is working across Systems Command boundaries as part of the "Virtual Systems Command." Since the beginning of this year, the Systems Commands have made a concerted effort to operate more closely together. We are aligning common functions and common processes across the commands in order to find efficiencies and increase our effectiveness as an acquisition community. I would characterize this process as a real-time transformation — from initial inception to a fully functioning concept in well under a year. The payoff in this concept is already being reaped in the form of more resources to the warfighter and that will only increase as time goes on.

Finally, an important part of my day is spent with our industry partners. We must maintain a close connection with our business partners, so they know what we require to support our forces; and in turn, they keep us informed of new and exciting technology coming down the pike.

CHIPS: Where does SPAWAR stand today as the premier C4I organization in the Navy?

Mr. Randall: We look at change and transformation as our business and this last year has been one of change and transformation for us. There was significant realignment of our acquisition effort in November 2002 with the establishment of the Program Executive Office for Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence and Space (PEO-C4I & Space). Recognizing the critical nature of C4I, the PEO's sole responsibility is to acquire, field and support C4I and ground-based space systems for the warfighters.

With the PEO taking on the C4I acquisition role formerly done within our Program Directorates, SPAWAR HQ took on the all-important role of C4I Chief Engineer for the Naval Services. That responsibility includes establishing the architecture and technical standards by which the Program Executive Offices and other Systems Commands, acquire, integrate and field joint interoperable products. If there's one aspect of success that Operation Iraqi Freedom showed us, it's that "jointness" wins wars, and it's the way of the future. FORCEnet will provide the foundation for that joint architecture within the Naval Services.

To achieve these important goals, we have established new and strengthened already existing relationships, not only within the Navy, but also across the uniformed services and other agencies outside the Department of Defense that support warfighting efforts. We've been working hard to build the trust necessary to implement these new ways of doing business and to breakdown the organizational boundaries that have existed in the past. I believe we've made impressive progress in a very short period of time, but this journey is far from over.

It wouldn't be right to talk about the state of our organization without focusing on our workforce. I've been amazed at the capacity of our people to accept change while continuing to execute and innovate throughout the organization. This applies to Headquarters, PEOs and all of our field activities — just amazing people. We keep asking them to accept more responsibility — from the Global War on Terrorism to the efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq — and they keep rising to the occasion. It is an inspiration and pleasure to join these folks every day.

CHIPS: Can you discuss SPAWAR's relationships with the other Systems Commands and the Naval Network Warfare Command (NETWARCOM)?

Mr. Randall: At the same time PEO-C4I & Space assumed programmatic duties (November 2002), SPAWAR was assigned additional duty responsibility to NAVSEA and NAVAIR as the C4I Chief Engineer. While C4I has long been recognized as the link that crossed platform boundaries, there has never been an effective mechanism for exerting end-to-end authority across those organizational and system boundaries. This new alignment makes that mechanism a reality, and the commanders are currently drafting a technical authority delegation letter, which will be staffed through the ASN (RD&A) [Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Research, Development and Acquisition] to formalize this relationship. The agreement has also been recognized by the Marine Corps Systems Command (MARCORSYSCOM), a key participant in this new process.

The other additional duty relationship SPAWAR has is with NETWARCOM. As a Type Commander, NETWARCOM has the overall responsibility for networks and information operations. SPAWAR is effectively operating as the technical arm of NETWARCOM and we have established a close collaborative working relationship with the operational users of our products and services.

CHIPS: You mentioned FORCEnet as a foundation for a joint architecture for the Naval Services. Can you explain this concept further? What role does SPAWAR play in the development of FORCEnet?

Mr. Randall: The Chief of Naval Operations' vision, Sea Power 21, is the roadmap for Naval warfare today and in the future. FORCEnet is the centerpiece of that roadmap; and once it's implemented, it will give warfighters the knowledge of the battlefield to "know first" and "act first," using the advantage of knowledge superiority over the adversary.

Sea Power 21 is comprised of three pillars: Sea Strike, projecting decisive offensive power; Sea Shield, access to the battlespace to project that power and a sea-based layer of defense; and Sea Basing, projecting battle forces worldwide from the sea. When I look across what those pillars are trying to achieve, many of their goals are tied to specific information and knowledge requirements. Providing that knowledge dominance to support the other pillars is what FORCEnet brings to the table.

As the FORCEnet chief engineer, our role is critical in ensuring the success of this vision. We break this responsibility down into three areas. The first is to be the FORCEnet architect. As the architect, our primary goal is to ensure that Navy-wide everything is built to a common set of architectures and standards to ensure interoperability at both the Navy and joint levels. While this may seem to be a simple task, the complexity of this task is enormous.

The second role is as the FORCEnet assessor. This is a new role for us as a Systems Command, we not only look at the technical implementation of programs for compliance with the architectures, but also the viability of programs to achieve cost and performance goals. In addition, we need to perform the assessment across end-to-end capabilities and not just traditional SPAWAR programs. We are also working with the joint community to ensure that this assessment methodology fits within the program assessment processes being set up at the joint level.

The last role is that of FORCEnet innovator. Not only is developing technology that meets warfighters needs important, but also equally critical is focusing on how quickly that technology gets into their hands. As we find promising technologies or concepts, we are quickly testing them in a series of Limited Objective Experiments (LOEs) and Integrated Product Demonstrations (IPDs) consistent with Sea Trial and the spiral development process to accelerate capability to the fleet.

CHIPS: What does the term "composeable" mean? What will it mean for the joint warfighter and what will it take to bring to fruition?

Mr. Randall: In the past, we built systems to meet specific requirements. What resulted was a variety of different systems that attacked a variety of different capabilities. It was inefficient in the sense that there was the potential for duplication and overlap, not to mention built-in inflexibility in the ways the systems are assembled and used.

In FORCEnet, we are developing the capability to "compose" what warfighters need for a specific mission from a set of services that will be available on the Internet. For example, if an Expeditionary Strike Group is deployed on a humanitarian mission, it would require a certain set of capabilities and information to perform their mission. If the ESG is called upon to respond to an immediate warfighting scenario, it will have the capability to redefine what services are required and compose that capability in transit to the new situation. Today, it would take a lengthy re-outfitting of the C4I suite on that ESG — an expensive undertaking. Tomorrow, it will be a routine transition to the new mission. This will all be a matter of subscribing to a new set of capabilities that are implemented through flexible and reusable software modules assembled to meet the new requirements.

We feel this capability is very achievable with today's technology by leveraging the state of architecture and standards within the commercial IT and business world. Good examples of making this concept a reality today are the RAPIDS (Rapid Prototype Insertion and Delivery System) initiative being worked on by PEOC4I and the FORCEview capability being developed at our Systems Center San Diego. Without going into detail, these efforts are demonstrating the ability to rapidly design, compose and field these capabilities in the near future. Some of these capabilities are also being debuted at the Trident Warrior IPD as we speak.

CHIPS: How does the PEO-C4I & Space fit into the SPAWAR claimancy as well as the other organizations it supports?

Mr. Randall: When we reorganized in November 2002, one of the primary goals was to bring SPAWAR into organizational alignment with the other Systems Commands. All of our Programs of Record were in project director offices, none of which had a direct reporting chain back to the ASN (RD&A). With the establishment of the PEO, we established this direct line of authority and provided that focus on execution of the acquisition programs, while at the same time establishing the new SPAWAR roles we've already discussed. It's probably worth mentioning that we've maintained a strong partnership throughout this process, and the organizations remain interdependent with SPAWAR continuing to provide technical talent, contracts, legal and operational support to PEO-C4I. The advantage is that each of the organizations now have a much sharper focus on their individual responsibilities while still complementing the other's mission — it is a strong team.

At this point, let me add that people tend to equate us with a single PEO, which is not the case. The PEO-IT [Program Executive Office - Information Technology] brings in the non-tactical IT or business process piece of the puzzle. While we have rightly focused much of our attention on the warfighter and the capabilities that directly support them, PEO-IT is charged with supporting the rest of the enterprise IT acquisition story. While currently their assigned programs are primarily personnel management related enterprise applications, PEO-IT is increasingly being tasked to work on acquisition for all of the other non-tactical applications and enterprise service issues within the Navy.

PEO-IT and SPAWAR also support the Director of NMCI, Rear Adm. Charles Munns, in executing the NMCI contract across the enterprise. As it is virtually impossible to divide much of the infrastructure and many of the services associated with both tactical and non-tactical information technology efforts, we are working across the organization to ensure that FORCEnet applies to both ends of the equation. We think this is a logical and complementary "marriage" of capabilities and functions represented by these organizations.

CHIPS: How do the SPAWAR field activities fit in with SPAWAR's C4I role?

Mr. Randall: The vast majority of SPAWAR's workforce, and the bulk of our talent, resides at our field activities and neither Headquarters nor the PEOs can function without their dedicated support. I'm going to start with San Diego. The largest part of our technical arm is here at the Systems Center on Point Loma. The vast majority of our laboratories and scientists are here. They provide the bulk of the systems engineering and technical support for our program offices and for our chief engineer organization. This capability allows us to go from concepts (either developed here or around the fleet), to the laboratory, to quick insertion into programs, and then on to rapid fielding and support. We have developed a very good continuum that has improved responsiveness and quality at the same time.

Next, shifting to the East Coast, we have the Systems Center Norfolk, Va., and the Systems Center Charleston, S.C. Their primary focus is the care of all the systems that we currently field and will field in the future. From the in-service engineering support of fixing things when they break, to helping the fleet with a 1-800 number to call if they have problems, to techical manuals and training... the majority of those efforts are done through Norfolk and Charleston, and are done extremely well. Another important aspect of these centers is that they give us a base of operations to directly support the East Coast fleet centers of concentration and they are becoming increasingly important in supporting organizations like NETWARCOM and the Joint Forces Command in the joint arena.

I should note that all of our activities work closely together in providing end-to-end and life-cycle support to the customer. Over the last several years we have developed a very cooperative arrangement for getting the right people onto the right jobs — independent of the location within the SPAWAR community.

The Information Technology Center in New Orleans is the most recent addition to the SPAWAR Corporation. It was added about two years ago. They manage personnel programs like NSIPS and DIMHRS as well as the legacy personnel programs in support of PEO-IT. NSIPS is the Navy Standard Integrated Personnel System. NSIPS replaced four legacy pay and personnel systems and was fielded to the Reserve Component and active duty Navy. DIMHRS is the Defense Integrated Military Human Resource System for Personnel and Pay Joint Program Management. NSIPS and DIMHRS are both newer programs for the military personnel system. They actually replaced vast numbers of personnel systems that existed in the past. They provide a tremendous improvement in efficiency by consolidating those legacy programs under a single program. Now we have a single user interface and single authoritative database across all of the personnel systems.

Our Space Field Activity in Chantilly, Va., is the Navy adjunct to the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) and performs extensive space research and intelligence work. Lastly, we have a small liaison office, Washington Operations, to keep abreast of and perform tasks that require a presence in the Washington, D.C., area.

CHIPS: Considering the sizable number of Navy activities in San Diego, is SPAWAR's location beneficial in terms of supporting operational forces and the regional facilities network? Why?

Mr. Randall: I feel fortunate to have moved out here when the command did. I was stationed at China Lake and just completing a major source selection on a new cruise missile system, when one of my previous bosses called and asked me to move to SPAWAR during its relocation to San Diego. As he put it, it was an opportunity to reinvent the command with a majority of new people and with a mission that was just starting to be recognized as a major transformational force. It was an offer too good to refuse. We recruited good people, developed new processes and took on some new roles — remember, the IT-21 concept was just taking form at that time. I think anyone who was with the command during that period will tell you this has been a most rewarding and energizing experience.

One of the most consistent focuses and approaches in the SPAWAR organization is the constant focus on the customer. We are able to interact with the warfighters on a day-to-day basis. If the fleet has a problem with a system, we can literally walk down the street and find a platform with the same system on it, investigate the issues, bring it immediately to our laboratories, test it, come up with a solution, run it in to our program managers and field it relatively quickly. That is a huge advantage for us, not only on the Navy side of things, but on the joint side as well — the Marine Corps is up the street from us at Camp Pendleton, and we also have access to U.S. Air Force activities and U.S. Army testing facilities. We are right in the middle of the test complex on the West Coast, which really facilitates getting products to the warfighters and doing it both efficiently and quickly.

While there are benefits to being in the Washington, D.C., area, I believe we more than make up for that with our ability to quickly respond and field capabilities to the fleet. In the end, that is what this business is all about and there is no better place to execute that mission for the Navy than right here in San Diego.

CHIPS: What would you like to see SPAWAR accomplish over the next five years?

Mr. Randall: I would like to see a couple of things get accomplished. If you speak with the warfighters in Afghanistan or Iraq, they will tell you that we have a lot of advantages because of the way we can operate. They will also tell you that one of the biggest advantages is the information operations superiority that we can bring to bear in any conflict around the world. That is in large part due to what we do on a daily basis, 365 days a year. In that light, I would like to see us make FORCEnet a reality as soon as possible. We can turn that advantage into a deciding factor in the Global War on Terrorism and that should be a goal for all of us.

The second goal is much more personal and would come as no surprise to most of the people who have worked for me over the years. My father told me long ago to enjoy what you do for a living — if you're not having fun at your job — change it. I want to continue to make SPAWAR a premier workplace, with an opportunity to enjoy the challenges and the achievements that we face everyday serving our country. There is no better job than that.

Mr. Scott Randall is the Deputy Commander of the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command in San Diego. He was born in Paterson, New Jersey and attended Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical/Aerospace Engineering in 1972 and began his career at the Naval Air Systems Command in Washington, D.C. , where he was an armament system engineer. After several jobs of increasing complexity Mr. Randall became the Primary Support Officer for the armament system on the new F/A-18 aircraft. In 1977 he briefly left the Naval Air Systems Command for a tour at the Naval Sea Systems Command as a combat systems engineer for several Foreign Military Sales platforms. He returned to the Naval Air Systems Command in 1978 accepting a job within the Nuclear Munitions Section responsible for the development, test, compatibility and nuclear safety of the Navy's air launched nuclear weapons, and eventually was selected as the head of that section.

In 1982, Mr. Randall became the Technical Director of the Naval Weapons Evaluation Facility in Albuquerque, New Mexico. This activity was responsible for the development, test, compatibility and nuclear safety of all the Navy's nuclear weapon systems, and for the development of weapons loading and handling publications for all air-launched weapons. In 1991, when the Base Realignment and Closure Commission selected the Naval Weapons Evaluation Facility for closure, he moved to the Naval Weapons Center China Lake, in Ridgecrest, California, as the project director for the Tri-Service Standoff Attack Missile (TSSAM). When this program was superceded by the Joint Air to Surface Standoff Missile in 1995, Mr. Randall was selected as the Navy's Program Manager and Joint Service Deputy Program Manager at the Joint Program Office on Eglin AFB in Fort Walton Beach, Florida. In 1996 Mr. Randall became the Deputy Program Manager for the Navy's Command and Control Program Office in San Diego and was responsible for the design, development, integration, test, fielding and support of the Joint Maritime Command Information System (JMCIS). Following his position as Deputy Program Manager, he became the Program Director for the Naval Networks and Information Assurance Directorate for the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command in San Diego, California.

Mr. Randall is a graduate of the Program Managers Course at Ft. Belvoir and of the Federal Executive Institute in Charlottesville, Virginia. His personal awards include the Michelson Award, the Civilian Meritorious Service Medal, the Civilian Superior Service Medal, and the Secretary of Defense Achievement Medal. Mr. Randall was selected to the Senior Executive Service in 1998.

Scott R. Randall; SPAWAR Deputy Commander
Scott R. Randall; SPAWAR Deputy Commander
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