The Navy’s acquisitions hiring boom

The Navy Department plans to hire thousands of acquisitions professionals -- inspectors, contract experts, testers, etc. -- to restore "core competence," officials say

The Navy’s Department’s top weapons-buyer, Sean Stackley, set down a priority this week at the Sea Air Space show that probably won’t get a lot of attention like the “Great Green Fleet” or the “313-ship Navy.” Still, he said he hopes it could pay huge dividends if successful. The department, Stackley said, needs to add thousands of uniformed and civilian acquisitions experts who know how to smooth out the complicated process of buying big, expensive things. Not as flashy as a rail gun, but it could save the department hundreds of millions of dollars.

“Ten to 15 years of downsizing has thinned our professional corps and we need to reverse that decline,” Stackley said. That includes deckplate-level inspectors working for the Supervisor of Shipbuilding, program managers, contract wranglers, test and evaluations professionals, and so on. For the past several years, the Navy has struggled with accepting warships that needed expensive re-work after entering the fleet, or which sailed late or over-budget because of quality problems. Just this week, you read here on Buzz about how manufacturing problems caused hull cracks aboard the littoral combat ship USS Freedom.

According to information provided Friday by Navy spokeswoman Capt. Cate Mueller, the goal is to increase the Navy’s acquisition workforce across the board by about 16 percent, or more than 6,000 people, over the next five years. Most of those people will be government employees, either service members or full-time Navy Department workers.

“We’re doing this at the expense of support contracts, but that’s a good trade-off,” Stackley said Wednesday.”The goal is not to restore government employees, but to restore our core competence.”