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Navy Executives, Scientists Receive Presidential Rank Awards for High-Impact Achievements

28 October 2020

From Kim Sylke, Department of the Navy Executive Management Program Office

Acting Under Secretary of the Navy Gregory J. Slavonic recently recognized 13 Senior Executive Service members and two Senior Professionals from the Department of the Navy who received Presidential Rank Awards.

Acting Under Secretary of the Navy Gregory J. Slavonic, in an Oct. 21 video statement, recognized 13 Senior Executive Service members and two Senior Professionals from the Department of the Navy who received Fiscal Year 2019 Presidential Rank Awards from the president of the United States.

"Your time, efforts and talents have helped to propel our workforce, our military, and ultimately, our nation," Slavonic told awardees in his congratulatory message. "Thank you for your professionalism. Thank you for your patriotism. Thank you for your dedication."

VIDEO | 01:10 | 2019 Presidential Rank Awards Congratulations

Presidential Rank Awards, established in 1978, recognize a small group of career senior executives who demonstrate extraordinary professional, technical, and scientific achievements on a national or international level. The awards recognize significant, lasting contributions to an agency’s effectiveness on a sustained basis.

(The 2019 awards were officially received in late 2019, but the ceremony scheduled for earlier this year was canceled as a safety measure, due to the pandemic.)

The following are the Department of the Navy recipients:

Distinguished Executive Recipients:

Mark Honecker (retired), former Executive Director and Chief of Staff, U.S. Fleet Forces Command. Honecker’s transformational resourcing process and acquisition strategies enabled the Navy to close an annual Fleet funding gap of nearly $800 million while meeting operational commitments. The new process created full transparency; all costs were well understood and managed; and effective partnerships were created across government and industry to control costs not within the Fleet preview. This cost culture produced many benefits, including the reduction of contract requirements by an impressive 37 percent.

Christopher Miller, Assistant Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Information Warfare. Miller made significant contributions to improve the Navy’s operational readiness by reducing costs while improving quality performance of Information Technology system installations both afloat and ashore. His attention to detail and aggressive cost-management approach drove installation costs down by 41 percent, reduced installation time by 25 percent, and increased first-pass testing quality from 70 percent to 97 percent.

Robert Woods (retired), former Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary (Manpower and Reserve Affairs) (PDASN (M&RA)). As both Acting Assistant Secretary of the Navy (M&RA) and PDASN (M&RA), Woods led the Department of the Navy (DON) and M&RA efforts focusing on significant reform initiatives such as civilian human resources reforms, retail sales and lodging reforms, military healthcare reform, and DON Audit Committee. He provided leadership and well-reasoned advocacy in these fora, insuring that DON equities were well represented and that reform proposals were thoroughly developed and supported by sound business case analyses.

Meritorious Executive Recipients:

Kathleen Donnelly, Director, Support Equipment and Aircraft Launch and Recovery Equipment Department (AIR-4.8), Naval Air Systems Command. Following three years of unsuccessful attempts by the prime contractor to produce an Unmanned Aircraft System recovery mast section, Donnelly directed the team to create an innovative, solution to meet the requirements and focus on a cost-effective, high quality, and rapid schedule. As a result, this reduced unit cost, with a significantly extended service life, yielded a cost avoidance per system of $100 thousand. To date the total cost avoidance of 30 systems will be over $3 million.

George Drakeley (retired), former Executive Director Program Executive Officer, Submarines, Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Research, Development and Acquisition). Drakeley has been a catalyst in developing the overarching strategic plan to shape the submarine force for the next 60 years, the Tactical Submarine Execution Plan (TSEP). One of the precepts of the TSEP is to develop a new method for hosting unmanned vehicles on submarines. Drakeley developed a radical new concept: to use an internal ballast tank as a hanger for these vehicles, which is now considered the leading concept by the undersea warfare community.

Dr. Craig Hoffman, Superintendent, Optical Sciences Division, Naval Research Laboratory. Hoffman leads optics related to quantum information science and technology (QIS&T) and Portfolio Manager for QIS&T across the entire Naval Research Enterprise. He created improvements in expertise and infrastructure at Navy labs as the Navy Program Manager for the Quantum Science and Engineering Program (QSEP), a tri-service, three-year ($45 million total, Fiscal Years 2016 through 2018) Pentagon-funded program. Hoffman was also lead author of a strategic Department of Defense QIS&T roadmap study that was an adjunct to QSEP and that will guide DoD and service investments in QIS&T for a number of years.

Brian Howes, Deputy Director, Undersea Warfare Division, Chief of Naval Operations. Howes spearheaded a Department wide effort to develop a new strategy for Unmanned Undersea Vehicles (UUV) development through a Secretary of the Navy signed Report to Congress. As a result, Congress approved increased investment in the Navy’s UUV efforts by over $2 billion, and for the first time, the Navy has dedicated programs for developing and deploying every category of UUV in the next five years.

Paul Lluy, Assistant Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Warfare Systems. As a direct result of Lluy’s innovative vision and diligence, the Navy established a new Long Range Anti-Ship Missile (LRASM) Program of Record, that included staffing and approval of the Capability Development Document by the Joint Requirements Oversight Counsel in under three months (normally a 12-month process). This is the first-ever Navy designation approval as a rapid acquisition program by the Under Secretary of Defense, Acquisition, Technology and Logistics.

James Lofgren, Director, Surface Systems Contracts Division, Naval Sea Systems Command. Lofgren was the principal architect in developing competitive strategies for programs that had been traditionally sole sourced for decades, starting with the Navy’s premier combat weapon system, AEGIS. Lofgren’s team held robust competitions and awarded the AEGIS Combat System Engineering Agent and AEGIS Ship Integration and Test (SI&T), driving an incredible 46-58percent in savings (approximately $420 million) compared to independent government estimate, based on historical sole-source pricing.

Garrett Ressing, Principal Deputy Assistant General Counsel of the Navy, Office of the General Counsel of the Navy. As the Deputy General Counsel, Ressing oversaw the recruitment and hiring for over 750 civilian attorney positions located in over 140 offices worldwide. Ressing diligently worked to develop and implement an online tool to track all hiring actions from the time the need for an attorney is identified to the attorney’s placement in a position. This innovative tool revolutionized the way the Department of the Navy Office of General Counsel processed hiring actions and drastically reduced the overall time to hire an attorney.

Elizabeth Sandel, Executive Director, Office of Naval Research. Sandel exhibits a leadership style that focuses on pro-activity and collaboration to achieve organizational and strategic effectiveness while maintaining high integrity and a sincere concern for people. By providing people a measure of confidence in the approaches being taking and the decision processes that impact their careers, Sandel has been able to architect organizations effectively and successfully align hundreds of people in new essential positions saving the tax payer and the Department of the Navy numerous resources which were then effectively placed back into mission success.

Steven Schulze (retired), former Executive Director, Naval Systems Engineering Directorate, Naval Sea Systems Command. Schulze established annual affordability goals and mentored his workforce in the development of 200 initiatives ensuring a focus on reducing costs while maintaining technical standards, quality, reliability, and safety. Continually emphasizing the importance of reducing costs, he energized the workforce and drove the engineering studies to determine which initiatives were technically viable and resulted in savings. The outcome was the completion of 130 initiatives in 2016, 98 in 2017, and 98 in 2018 yielding an estimated savings of $60.83 million, $9.28 million, and $22 million for 2016, 2017 and 2018 respectively.  

Sharon Smoot (retired), former Executive Director for Logistics, Maintenance, and Industrial Operations, Naval Sea Systems Command. Smoot successfully completed the development and deployment of the first and largest Navy integrated shore based ship maintenance information technology (IT) infrastructure. This multimillion-dollar modernization reduced cybersecurity risks, streamlined the business base and fully supports IT modernization, a major IT acquisition program for seven regional maintenance centers planning and executing surface ship maintenance around the world, as well as four naval shipyards, ship repair facilities, and trident repair facilities planning and executing submarine and aircraft carrier maintenance around the world. This modernization effort directly supports Office of Secretary of Defense and Department of the Navy business reform initiatives that produce much needed efficiencies and analytical capabilities across the Navy’s business.

Meritorious Senior Professional Recipients:

Stephen Greineder (retired), former Senior Technologist for Acoustic Signal Processing, Naval Undersea Warfare Center Division. Greineder identified a critical gap in our national security centered on Maritime Critical Infrastructure (MCI) and the potential impact on National Leadership Command and Control, Nuclear Command Control, and Communication, and the U.S. economy.  Greineder provided the vision for distributed, cross-domain operations extending from the seabed to space. This vision shaped policy changes implemented through the Office of Science and Technology Policy, enabling the development of a $1.8 billion multi-year MCI program starting in Fiscal Year 2016 supporting Maritime Domain Awareness, Information Dominance, and Cybersecurity.

Dr. Igor Medintz, Senior Scientist for Biosensors and Biomaterials, U.S. Naval Research Laboratory. Medintz is internationally recognized as a leading authority in bionanotechnology, DNA-based light harvesting, and chemoselective chemistries as applied to nanomaterials. His productivity is above that of an internationally prominent scientist/engineer and inventor with 21 issued patents and nine applications. He has published over 250 scientific papers, over 70 conference proceedings, 21 invited book chapters, and is coauthor on more than 240 scientific presentations, posters, and monographs. Medintz has served as a subject matter expert on review panels for the National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, Department of Energy, Defense Threat Reduction Agency, Department of the Army, and numerous international agencies.

Presidential Rank Awards graphic
SLIDESHOW | 1 images | Presidential Rank Awards 2019 Presidential Rank Awards, established in 1978, recognize a small group of career senior executives who demonstrate extraordinary professional, technical, and scientific achievements on a national or international level. (Graphic courtesy Office of Personnel Management)


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