Navy’s Virginia Class Program Recognized for Acquisition Excellence

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The Virginia Class Program Office received the 2008 David Packard Excellence in Acquisition Award during a Nov. 5 ceremony at Fort Belvoir, Va.

The award recognizes Department of Defense civilians and military organizations, groups or teams that demonstrate exemplary innovation and best acquisition practices. The David Packard Award is the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition Technology and Logistics’ highest award. This marks the third time that the Virginia Class Program Office has earned the Excellence in Acquisition Award. The office earned previous honors in 1996 and 1998.

The Virginia Class Program was recognized for excelling in four specific award criteria: reducing life-cycle costs; making the acquisition system more efficient, responsive, and timely; integrating defense with the commercial base and practices; and promoting continuous improvement of the acquisition process.

The program office reduced life-cycle costs by delivering submarines ahead of schedule while concurrently applying best-value analysis to more than 150 discrete design changes and production improvements. By the end of 2007, construction performance initiatives achieved $89.9 million savings per ship, and design for cost reduction initiatives saved an additional $84.2 million per ship. Since 2005, the program has reduced its overall cost by $4 billion.

The acquisition process was made more efficient, responsive and timely by meeting warfighter needs at reduced costs while shortening acquisition lead time. The program removed the requirement for full-ship shock testing based on technical merit, a first for a major weapons system. Removing the requirement saved the Navy $72 million without endangering the ship’s war fighting capability.

The Virginia Class Program Office also successfully integrated defense with the commercial base and practices. In October 2007, the program office held a joint Navy-shipbuilder LEAN Six Sigma event to examine contracting value streams. This event eliminated redundancy and waste in contracting processes while enabling acquisition events to occur ahead of schedule.

Finally, the program office’s efforts to simplify the acquisition process met the criterion of promoting continuous acquisition process improvements. During fiscal year 2007, 33 process improvement events were conducted, resulting in an estimated realized savings of $60.6 million per ship.

“The Packard award is the highest honor that an acquisition program can receive, and I am thrilled to be able to accept this on behalf of the Virginia-class team,” commented Capt. Michael Jabaley, Virginia Class Program manager. “This award is in recognition of the great work accomplished by the program office, contractors and shipbuilders who are dedicated to providing the warfighter with the best possible submarine at the best cost.”

“Earning the David Packard Award speaks volumes to the quality and ability of Virginia Class Program Office, the government support structure and our shipbuilding partners,” said Rear Adm. William Hilarides, program executive officer for submarines. “Their hard work has saved the Navy billions of dollars and ensured an active and robust submarine force.”

The Virginia class has had a memorable year thus far. For the first time in the past 12 years, the Navy commissioned two submarines of the same class, USS North Carolina (SSN 777) on May 3 and USS New Hampshire (SSN 778) on Oct. 25. Further, USS Hawaii (SSN 776) completed the technical and operational testing required to certify the lockout trunk. USS Virginia (SSN 774) conducted initial operational testing and evaluation in multiple mission areas that included her launch of the first three Tomahawk cruise missiles by the class in August. The Virginia-class program will end the year by christening its sixth ship, New Mexico (SSN 779) on Dec. 13 at Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding in Newport News, Va.

(NNS)

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