While the conventional wisdom is that Special Operations Command has unique authorities and abilities to procure new sytems in a faster manner than much of the Department of Defense, one of their former employees believes the services already have the tools they need. The problem? Figuring out how to use them.

Congress has “given us more authorities than we have figured out how to use smartly,” James Geurts, assistant secretary of the Navy for research, development, and acquisition, said Feb. 8 during a keynote presentation at the West 2018 conference in San Diego.

Geurts’ nomination to his current position, from acquisition executive at SOCOM, was lauded due to his expertise in rapid procurement.

“I don’t need more authorities in the Department of the Navy to move fast, to be agile, to move at the speed of technology,” he said.

Much of the discussion at the conference focused on how the Navy - and other services - can move faster and more like SOCOM.

Many officials echoed Geurts’ sentiment: the authorities are there, it’s a matter of figuring out what works for each organization and program.

Many of the services have begun to use other transaction authorities, which operates outside the usual acquisition methods, providing cost-sharing with vendors with the goal of shortening the capability-development cycle and accelerating the transition of prototypes to the government.

“We’ve got to learn how to do that. We’ve got to create processes in a portfolio approach to life, but my limit right now is not a limit from Congress or something the [Government Accountability Office] is holding up,” Geurts said about moving faster. “We’ve got to figure this out. That’s our challenge.”

Geurts then challenged the audience of mostly industry personnel to provide him ideas on how to do exactly that.

Mark Pomerleau is a reporter for C4ISRNET, covering information warfare and cyberspace.