Top Navy Negotiator Oversees Billions in Contracts
September 9, 2012
The Navy and the Marine Corps each year award about $90 billion dollars in contracts for everything from submarines and battleships to fighter jets, helicopters, complex weapons systems, trucks, uniforms and body armor.
Standing watch over this huge and complex undertaking is Elliott Branch, who closely scrutinizes and helps shape every major acquisition, negotiates with the major defense contractors, and makes sure the Navy and Marines are getting what they need in a timely fashion and at the best possible price.
“Everything the Navy buys goes through his shop. He ensures goals are met across-the-board and within budget,” said Sean Stackley, the assistant secretary of the Navy for research, development and acquisition. “He’s always looking to drive down the cost of doing business and to get a better deal for the department.”
Over the years, Branch, the deputy assistant secretary of the Navy for acquisition and procurement, has been credited with a number of highly successful negotiations and important management innovations.
In 2009, Branch led negotiations to consolidate production of a class of guided missile destroyers to a single shipyard. According to Stackley, the consolidation resulted in $1.5 billion in savings across that program, while ensuring stability in the industry as other shipyards were able to transition to new contracts.
Allie Coetzee, executive director for Navy acquisition and procurement, said while completing a major contract for Littoral Combat Ships, a family of Navy surface ships, Branch “found enough savings across the platforms to build an additional ship—a $450 million value—at no additional cost.”
Last year, Branch oversaw the contracting for a record 34 ships that included submarines and destroyers, said Shay Assad, the principal advisor to the undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics. “All are in multi-year relationships with steadily declining prices over the contract terms,” he said.