The Naval Postgraduate School’s (NPS) Acquisition Research Program (ARP) and Naval Warfare Studies Institute (NWSI) held the 19th Annual Acquisition Research Symposium, May 11-12. The annual symposium was once again hosted virtually by NPS in an effort to open up the discussion on the future of acquisition to the broadest audience possible, including defense and industry leaders, academics, and of course NPS students, all under the theme of “Creating Synergy for Informed Change.”
The event hosted two keynote speakers who are at the leading edge of acquisition for the United States: the Honorable Andrew Hunter, Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, and Mr. Tommy Ross, Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development and Acquisition, the Navy’s chief acquisition officer.
Hunter kicked off the event, praising the symposium as “the premier forum for understanding, discussing, and planning acquisition research and for exchanging ideas about acquisition.” Hunter has presented research at several previous symposia in his previous role as Director of the Defense-Industrial Initiatives Group at the Center for Strategic & International Studies.
Hunter’s remarks identified Air Force priorities as they relate to acqusition, including the need to divest older systems to invest in newer capabilities. He also walked through Secretary Frank Kendall’s seven operational imperatives, which are driving the Air Force acquisition system and are being worked in collaboration with service chiefs for the Air Force and Space Force.
Ross chose this event for his first official speaking engagement in his new role performing the duties of the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development, and Acquisition. His comments and conversation made clear how his job as Chief of Staff to the Secretary of the Navy has given him a broad picture of the Navy’s capabilities and priorities and how they should be applied to acquisition researchers.
In addition to key points from the Secretary of the Navy’s Strategic Guidance, Ross talked through Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mike Gilday’s call to “Get Real, Get Better.” Following this mandate, “our acquisition professionals at all levels must constantly self-assess their needs. Where do we have obstacles? Where do we have barriers that we need to overcome? Where can we do better? They must close gaps in performance and apply more technical rigor throughout the acquisition lifecycle of their programs.”
The event welcomed more than 750 participants across 26 compelling panel discussions covering everything from “Building and Structuring the Fleet” to “Adaptive Acquisition Framework: How It’s Going.” In addition, nearly 60 academic papers were submitted from both DOD-affiliated and civilian institutions like Purdue and Carnegie Mellon, among many others.
“Defense acquisition is a critical enabler in getting capabilities across the finish line to the warfighter, and this symposium is a key part of improving that process,” said retired Vice Adm. David Lewis, NPS’ Chair of Acquisition. “It brings academia, practitioners, and operational personnel who are innovative thought leaders, and who have practical experience to think through the hard problems we face, and collaboratively discuss solutions that furthers both acquisition research and the development of future acquisition leaders.”
ARP was established in 2003 to provide a platform for innovation and problem solving in the ever-evolving world of DOD acquisition and procurement. It provides currency to the strategies and analytical effectiveness needed to deliver capabilities to America’s warfighters.
“Our ultimate goal is always to encourage conversation,” said Michelle Johnson, Communications Manager for the ARP. “And one of the things this symposium is really unique for is just bringing a powerhouse of superstars together.
“Researchers from different backgrounds, and with different areas of expertise partcipiate in our individual panels, that are chaired by flag and general officers or their equivalent who can speak about the operational importance of this research,” Johnson continued. “From unmanned systems to artificial intelligence panel to shipbuilding, these discussions have relevance and benefits for everyone attending.”
For more information regarding the 19th Annual Acquisition Research Symposium, visit the ARP website.