Navy launches efficiency drive in pursuit of savings

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WASHINGTON — The U.S. Navy is looking to find budget savings and efficiencies to give it more flexibility under tighter budget caps, the service’s undersecretary said today.

Erik Raven, who oversees the business side of the Navy, said the sea service is working with its program managers and prime contractors to address cost overruns, as one way to address the lower-than-expected budgets that stem from this summer’s Fiscal Responsibility Act.

More broadly, “the department is executing an internally focused effort to identify opportunities to better allocate funding,” in what Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro has called the Running Fix effort, Raven said at a Navy League congressional shipbuilding breakfast event Thursday.

The assistant secretaries for research, development and acquisition and for financial management and comptroller will co-chair the effort, which Raven says will build upon past efforts to identify efficiencies.

In fact, Comptroller Russell Rumbaugh said in announcing Running Fix during a September speech the Navy has had a “constant call for efficiency” for the last two decades. He said many of the same ideas have come up each time and still haven’t been implemented.

Rumbaugh noted the Navy has claimed $200 billion in efficiencies over the last 14 budget cycles, much which has been cost avoidance, which can include things like buying something sooner to prevent price hikes later.

But Raven said this current effort “isn’t only a drill about saving dollars and cents; this is a drill about increasing efficiency across the department of the Navy.”

He offered information technology as an example: the Navy still pours money into its legacy systems, even though paying for newer systems would lead to larger savings down the road and bring the Navy up to current industry standards.

Through an effort called Cattle Drive, he said the Navy hopes to winnow down the number of IT systems — much like a cattle drive doesn’t end well for the cows, he joked, this effort won’t end well for legacy systems that hurt Navy efficiency, but persist through budget and programmatic inertia.

More broadly, Raven noted, “increasing efficiency and accountability within the Department of the Navy is not just about buying a new computer system that can keep better track of things; it’s about improving our business processes.”

At the same event, Rep. Rob Wittman, R-Va., said “the mindset has to change across the Pentagon: it has to change from saying we’re process-oriented to being outcome-oriented,” which will involve taking some risks.

Running Fix, established this fall, aims to inform the fiscal 2026 budget request, which will be sent to Congress about 14 months from now.

Raven told Defense News Thursday any money saved through this department-wide effort would go to Del Toro’s top priorities of buying and maintaining platforms and supporting people.

As an incentive for commands to “self-nominate” their own efficiencies, though, he said in many cases a command that can demonstrate a cost saving will be allowed to repurpose that money within its own portfolio.

Megan Eckstein is the naval warfare reporter at Defense News. She has covered military news since 2009, with a focus on U.S. Navy and Marine Corps operations, acquisition programs and budgets. She has reported from four geographic fleets and is happiest when she’s filing stories from a ship. Megan is a University of Maryland alumna.

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