SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR) leadership gathered at a National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA) sponsored Industry Day July 30 to discuss the organization's budget outlook and the role of small business.
The event covered a range of topics, including SPAWAR's current fiscal environment and associated budgeting challenges; the importance of implementing information technology technical authority in the acquisition process; and procurement forecasting for small business.
SPAWAR Comptroller, Steve Dunn discussed how sequestration, furloughs, the 7.8 percent reduction to all accounts last year, and another 10 percent anticipated in outlying years, would have a significant impact on the command's ability to deliver capability to the warfighter.
"There's a long path between coming up with the genius perfect mouse trap idea and actually getting that into the defense planning guidance and all the way through to the point of execution," said Dunn. "There are lots of hurdles and steps along the way, and lots of hair growing opportunities for mistakes, largely due to the government enterprise now having to go after the same pot of money."
Dunn discussed the historical trending of fiscal budgets and planning, highlighting how the Budget Control Act and sequestration have impacted and influenced the organization's budget processes and will cause draconian drop offs in the future.
As an acquisition command, SPAWAR is transitioning to modernization and sustainment, while funding for research and development continue to decline. The command drives $10 billion worth of business annually into the economy. The fastest growing piece of the SPAWAR puzzle is in the Information Dominance arena including hardware buys and installs of significant Navy modernization programs such as the Consolidated Afloat Networks and Enterprise Services (CANES) and the Next Generation Enterprise Network (NGEN).
SPAWAR Chief Engineer, Rear Adm. James H. Rodman, Jr. discussed SPAWAR's roles as the Information Dominance systems command and the Navy's IT technical authority lead. He reiterated the importance of small business in supporting that vision.
"Fifty-seven percent of our contracts in the chief engineer's office have small business interests," said Rodman. "I'm working with our small business team to make our systems more robust and the Navy is putting its money where its mouth is to help facilitate our efforts."
Rodman said that SPAWAR will need small businesses with expertise in experimentation and systems engineering support; modeling and simulation; analytical work; human systems interface and engineering; test and evaluation; and information assurance certification.
"There has to be one organization that oversees the process for technical authority because information technology requires technical authority," said Rodman. "As the technical authority for the Navy, we are expanding our arms around the processes so that they are centrally managed, because we have very complex platforms, many of them with stove-piped systems that are wired together and are hard to defend and mature."
The interaction between industry and SPAWAR senior leaders facilitated in depth and lively discussions between members from across the organization and audience attendees on topics such as the organization's functioning under sequestration and some of the difficulties associated with furloughs to contracting and business opportunities for small business owners or sub-contractors working under primes.
Tim Dowd, director of contracts at SPAWAR, said the organization hit its targets last year. He identified better competition and hitting small business goals as important targets for the command. Dowd said the simplified acquisition procurement has been the so-called sweet spot for small business at SPAWAR.
"With budget cuts, it's going to be a little tougher in the outlying years," said Dowd. "At SPAWAR Headquarters, we look at contracts that are sustaining direct support to the organization."
Though he conceded the command needs to work harder on market research, the organization plan is to maximize set a sides for multiple award contracts and continue to facilitate opportunities for small businesses.
Though the shadow of sequestration and another round of budget cuts in the coming fiscal year hovered over much of the Industry Day, the event was well-attended and provided insight into the SPAWAR budget process and acquisition trends.
"Other than the budget mess, I'm feeling pretty good," said Dowd, lightening the mood. "We finally got NGEN and CANES awarded and went through contract services court with the VCNO. I'd have to say, I studied harder for contract services court than I ever did studying for the bar exam."
The NDIA sponsored Industry Day was established to engage industry and government at the executive level. With years of combined federal acquisition and defense industry experience, the panels were developed to facilitate an open and strong dialog between SPAWAR and the San Diego defense industry community and provide information on acquisition and small business development processes.
As the Navy's Information Dominance systems command, SPAWAR designs, develops and deploys advanced communications and information capabilities. With more than 8,600 active duty military and civil service professionals located around the world, the organization is at the forefront of research, engineering, acquisition and support services that provide vital decision superiority to the fleet.