US Navy photo
In the wake of Secretary of Defense Gates calling for Pentagon bean counters to find $100 billion in savings over the next five years, the services are scrambling to cut costs where they can. The process won’t be easy says Adm. Jonathan Greenert, vice chief of Naval Operations, who told the Center for Strategic and International Studies yesterday that upcoming budgets are going to introduce “a new fiscal reality for most of our [officers] and most of our senior executive service. They’ve gone fifteen years on supplemental appropriations. We’ve been on them since at least ’95 … and we have really not had a lot of folks really need to be accountable for the fiscal performance out there because there’s always been a supplemental around the corner.”
Greenert didn’t single out any underperforming programs by name, but stressed that the Navy was going to have little patience for programs that are “just not going to get there.” He did say that the service sees multiyear procurement deals for programs as one of many ways to reduce costs, along with a greater focus on fixed-price contracts.
One surprise came while the Admiral was talking about Naval aviation. He described the UCAS—the Navy’s still-under-development unmanned carrier aircraft system, as “our future air wing” and complained that “the cost to put an aircraft in the air for one hour is currently untenable. We have to look at that.” He mentioned looking at flight simulators as a possible alternative to putting pilots in the seat, and in the air during training.
On the acquisition and procurement side, Greenert lauded what is called the “hostage exchange”—where Navy requirements officers are sent to spend time in acquisitions offices in order to understand a little better the entire process. “If you’ve got a two-year tour in the Pentagon,” he said, “maybe spend six months over at a PEO. And we’ve seen great payback already.”
Imagine that. Understanding the acquisitions and procurement process before, you know, trying to acquire and procure things.