The Navy is establishing a new deputy assistant secretary of the Navy (DASN) position that will focus on sustainment, the Navy’s top acquisition official said on Friday.

James Geurts, assistant secretary of the Navy for Research, Development, and Acquisition, said the new DASN-S will report directly to him and have oversight over sustainment funding across the Department of the Navy. This new office will also oversee and manage Navy and Marine Corps sustainment and life-cycle management policies.

James Geurts, Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development and Acquisition (ASN (RD&A)). (Photo: U.S. Navy)
James Geurts, Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development and Acquisition (ASN (RD&A)). (Photo: U.S. Navy)

While he did not name a specific person, “he or she will report directly to me, they’ll have oversight of that function form a policy and oversight activity, much like we do for acquisition programs. That won’t fundamentally change where the work’s getting done, in the case of ship depot maintenance, largely through [Vice] Adm [Thomas] Moore’s team,” Geurts told reporters Friday.

Moore is commander of Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA).

Geurts said the office will be stood up by Oct. 1.

He noted the new position comes after a provision in the FY 2019 defense authorization bill added sustainment as a key responsibility of his office.

While Geurts defines the position broadly, “I also recognize it’s at the secretariat level so it is not the one deciding how many rifles a brigade’s going to take on a deployment or whatnot,” he said.

Noting his office is about 105 people working on $110 billion of funding a year, the new office will be an enabling function.

“So I see it from that role as opposed to being the decisionmaker of individual activities,” he said. “It’s more the synchronizer in getting at this.”

The position will look at where the department is moving with data-driven decision-making, what authorities are needed from Congress to use opportunities, and where are things going on in one side of the enterprise that may enable or disable other functions.

Geurts explained the role will find where there are opportunities or changes to make at the secretariat level. The DASN-S will make sure “the sustainment functions throughout the Navy and the Marine Corps have an advocate and can help accelerate it.”

He said he finds it particularly encouraging for the position to help the service continue to draw the research and development, acquisition, and sustainment functions closer together “so that we can ensure we’re fully leveraging all the things we’re doing in science and technology and R&D to help sustainment.”

“[The new office will be] taking lessons learned from sustainment into new construction and then more closely linking new construction to the sustainment through life support activities so we don’t get a handoff or issues there,” he added.

Geurts also said he thinks it will facilitate and ensure the Navy is using the “same level of aggressiveness, and new tools, new ways of doing business, new ways to contract for that effort, making sure they’ve got the full horsepower of the secretariat, as Adm Moore’s teams execute that effort. So, I think that will be a good kind of addition.”

Moore added there will be some overlap among DASN-S, OPNAV N4, and NAVSEA, but “from the SYSCOM point of view, somebody that can help me from a policy perspective as we try to execute things, I think this is a key enabler for some of the things we’re trying to do on the execution side of the house.”