On June 3, the Acquisition Research Program hosted an online retirement party for Rear Admiral (Ret.) James B. Greene, the program’s founding chair. After 17 years of service, Greene retired on June 6, 2020. He will continue to volunteer with the program, lending expertise to the current staff and the new chair of acquisition in the fall.
A host of Greene’s long-time colleagues from academia, military services, think tanks, and industry joined the Zoom meeting to share stories about the impact Greene has made at the helm of the ARP. The program has grown steadily over the years into a world-renowned resource for data-driven acquisition research that benefits the Navy and the entire Department of Defense. The first annual acquisition research symposium in 2003 showcased 8 papers and had 53 attendees; the latest symposium spotlighted over 70 papers and welcomed more than 350 participants from around the globe representing all military services, government, industry, academia, and the NPS community. The program also publishes dozens of student research thesis projects annually and regularly awards competitive grants to external researchers throughout the acquisition community.
Keith Snider, Dean of the Graduate School of Defense Management, presented Greene with the Navy Meritorious Civilian Service Award. Greene was recognized for his “vision, initiative, and deep expertise in defense acquisition” that created “a unique and robust international network of acquisition researchers, policymakers, and practitioners engaged in efforts to understand and improve acquisition outcomes.” Under Greene’s leadership, the citation reads, “the Acquisition Research Program has effectively connected the theory and practice of acquisition to make notable contributions to the defense acquisition system and its body of knowledge.”
Numerous attendees reflected on the value the ARP has created for the Navy, other military services, and the Department of Defense. One of the researchers on the call noted that “everyone who cares about defense acquisition” attends the annual symposium, where thinkers dig into the evidence and examine how acquisition changes over time. The symposium was also recognized as a testing ground for ideas that authors want to share but which may not be ready for official publication. One attendee noted that, in his case, many of the ideas and recommendations from his symposium briefing were ultimately implemented.
Other attendees shared stories about Greene’s generous mentorship of students and researchers, noting he read all ARP reports and frequently directed people to key findings. During his tenure, he was used as a model for case studies on ethical decision making. He and the program directly supported program managers and other practitioners in the field, connecting them with information that could help them solve tough problems.
Many attendees made common remarks about how the intellectual rigor brought by Admiral Greene and the ARP set a high bar for the acquisition community. One attendee noted that the program is unique for being truly academic, bringing a scientific approach to acquisition. Attendees noted that research from ARP reports was frequently used to inform decisions by industry leaders as well as DoD officials.
Throughout the party, Greene responded to each speaker’s comment with a personal note of appreciation, often adding a story from their time together working a program, research project, or event. He also acknowledged the support of the ARP sponsors in the Navy, DoD, and industry and suggested that new sponsors may evolve out of admiration for the support ARP provides across the military services. Greene concluded remarks by saying that the program really belongs to the researchers, who create the community of knowledge that ARP facilitates, and praising the program staff as “the best team we’ve ever had at ARP.” He plans to see everyone in person at next year’s symposium, scheduled for 12-13 May 2021.