Acquisition

Navy speeds acquisition amid COVID-19 outbreak

mock-up of the shore-based Aegis Combat Information Center

The Navy has been awarding contracts faster since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, but one of the biggest gains have been systems that can assess supply chain weaknesses, according to James Geurts, the Navy's acquisition chief.

The Navy has spent the past two years building systems that can provide real-time visibility into its supply chain, where there were gaps for major programs. They've now overlapped that capability with hot-spot data, indicating where companies have shut down or there's been an influx in cases, Geurts said during a virtual fireside chat for the Navy League's Sea Air Space 2020 conference April 15.

Geurts said doing that allows the Navy to "see what suppliers are at risk. When we understand that, we can start managing those potential delays into our supply system." That information is then used to inform continuing operations, move supplies if needed and understand when suppliers are back online.

Geurts also said the Navy has geographically networked all of its 3D printers, which provides insight into where the need is on the local levels, "ensuring that we're not competing or conflicting with each other." Many organizations are using 3D printers to fabricate parts for medical devices and other needed materials that are not readily available through existing supply chains.

With contracts going out faster than anticipated, Geurts also said the Navy has been examining its business practices, learning how to better collaborate, reduce backlogs and not duplicate functions. All of that will hopefully aid in a faster recovery from the coronavirus, he said.

"Ships still have to come out on time, we've got to do the maintenance and continue to supply lethal capabilities to our sailors and Marines, and we can't afford to lag the recovery."

About the Author

Lauren C. Williams is a staff writer at FCW covering defense and cybersecurity.

Prior to joining FCW, Williams was the tech reporter for ThinkProgress, where she covered everything from internet culture to national security issues. In past positions, Williams covered health care, politics and crime for various publications, including The Seattle Times.

Williams graduated with a master's in journalism from the University of Maryland, College Park and a bachelor's in dietetics from the University of Delaware. She can be contacted at [email protected], or follow her on Twitter @lalaurenista.

Click here for previous articles by Wiliams.


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