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  • Shipyard Fix
    Posted by Bettina Chavanne 6:15 PM on Oct 09, 2009

    This is the year of the shipyard. But that's not necessarily a good thing. Lawmakers have openly disapproved of how business is being done, both at commercial and Naval shipyards. So the question for the Navy is: What are you going to do about it?

    Rear Adm. Bill Landay, head of the program executive office for ships (PEO Ships), thinks he has some ideas. They're not what you'd call revolutionary, but he hopes that by laying them out formally, change will follow.

    He invited reporters to talk about the plan Oct. 6. Here's some of what he laid out:

    First, consider this - PEO Ships is currently managing 20 major surface ships in 7 yards and 190 small boats across 25 yards. In the next five years, 25-30 additional major surface ships and hundreds of small boats will be added to that list. "That's a significant challenge," Landay said. "But there's lots of opportunity."

    Here's how it would all play out -
    1. Get the program right up front. Okay - that's kind of obvious. Or is it? Landay says the push is on to establish stable requirements and get shipbuilders involved in the discussion early on. Look for technical maturity on systems and get your cost estimates right (which includes getting a good grasp on the program risks). Lead ships and programs with high technical risk should be cost contract programs, Landay says. "The goal is to retire the risk quickly and then move to a fixed-price contract."
    Program structure and manning's a big piece of getting the program right as well. Landay says bringing on more skilled people to "robustly man" a program helps ensure proper execution.

    2. The program execution piece. Aside from manning the program properly, the Navy is focusing on the strength of its supervisors of shipbuilding. "To me, the position is critical to the ability to execute programs," Landay says. "They're the eyes, ears, hands and knowledge on the waterfront." Other pieces of program execution should include design and software maturity production efficiency and launch readiness.

    3. Affordability. This piece is kind of a given, and the reason for all the changes within the PEO. The Navy wants to drive competition, create a leaner production process and get spiraling costs under control.

    Landay went into explicit detail, spending about 40 minutes outlining his plan before taking our questions. He wrapped up with some key points:

    1. Focus on increasing the confidence in our ability to execute shipbuilding effectively
    2. Mature our designs before beginning construction
    3. Create production plans that yield success and exercise rigor in executing those plans
    4. Build the first ship like a follow ship
    5. Measure productivity improvements from unit to unit rather than ship by ship
    6. Engage in a ruthless drive for affordability and efficiency
    7. Design your funding to target affordability and capital improvement initiatives
    8. Measure and evaluate the performance of companies, not programs
    9. Manage shipbuilding like a business rather than a series of individual programs

    So, dear readers, do you think a formalized plan like this will yield results? And how long will it take to reap the benefits of this kind of change? I look forward to your opinion.

    Tags: ar99, Navy, Landay, shipbuilding

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