JUST IN: Navy Needs to Work on Relationship Skills with Industry, Allies

By Allyson Park
USS Montgomery

U.S. Navy photo

With the specter of conflict in the Indo-Pacific and the threat of a possible year-long continuing resolution for the U.S. government, the Navy must strengthen its relationships with allies and partners in order to build up the naval industrial base, a top Navy official said.

“We need to be working with our industrial partners of every sort,” said Russell Rumbaugh, assistant secretary of the Navy, Financial Management and Comptroller, in a fireside chat hosted by the Software in Defense Coalition Jan. 17.

“We need to work with our partners, but we need this to be a dynamic relationship. … We’re reaching out and trying to build those partnerships to make sure we get the production we want, that we are not just putting money into a backlog but actually getting ships to sea.”

The Navy must foster communicative relationships with its allies and partners, prioritizing helping small businesses grow and ensuring the Navy is a reasonable and collaborative partner, he said. Through open communication, the Navy and industry must commit to the partnership.

“Having people who are willing to be those interlocutors and help put that together, identify operational need, identify technological solutions and bring those together is invaluable,” he said. “The more tools we have to reach out [and] create relationships that continue on to the benefit of everybody, the better off we are.”

In addition to fostering dynamic, communicative relationships with its allies and partners, the Navy must also improve its acquisition process, Rumbaugh said.

“We need to do a better job of buying the correct solution. As much as I love my acquisition colleagues, I can't help but notice how quickly they jump to, ‘Yeah, we should have this for everything.’ But wait a minute, did you actually apply the right one?” he asked. “I think you will see the appropriators be willing to give us more flexibility and try a bigger program that is reasonably mature and just could use a little bit more freedom.”

However, while Congress passed the 2024 National Defense Authorization Act in December, appropriators have yet to pass a 2024 budget, and another shutdown deadline is fast approaching. Rumbaugh warned a year-long continuing resolution would scuttle a lot of the Navy’s plans.

“The top-level message is it’s a $26 billion hit for us, of misaligned funds, if we’re under a full-year” continuing resolution, Rumbaugh said. “If we take a sequester on top of that, add another $2.5 billion dollars, so … $28.8 billion that we will have misaligned for what we think the Department of the Navy needs to do this year.”

Rumbaugh said the Department of the Navy needs to prepare for scenario where it doesn’t get the 4.5 percent boost in funding it sought in the 2024 budget request.

“The scary side is, if we are not resolved very, very soon, we’re going to have to start taking action,” he said. “The big thing for us is we don’t want to repeat the mistakes of 2013, when we did get sequestered.”


Topics: Industrial Base

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