This medal recognizes a federal employee for demonstrating superior leadership and management excellence through a significant contribution to the nation that exemplifies efficient, effective and results-oriented government.
Position: Deputy Assistant Secretary, Acquisition and Procurement
Agency: Department of the Navy
Location: Washington, D.C.
Achievement: Through savvy acquisition and procurement, ensures our warfighters have the right equipment when they need it, at the best possible value for the American taxpayer.
Our warfighters need the right equipment to fulfill their missions and return home safely. Elliott Branch ensures they are properly equipped at the best possible value.
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 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.
Branch also played a critical role last year protecting the Navy’s interests when Northrop Grumman divested its shipbuilding unit to stockholders through the creation of a new company. Colleagues said Branch was instrumental in making sure the new shipbuilding company would remain a viable entity capable of delivering important nuclear-powered aircraft carriers, submarines and destroyers to the Navy.
Branch is currently a key member of the team in charge of buying the next generation information technology network, and figuring out strategies to ensure the best value for the Navy. He also is working on the next aircraft carrier to be delivered in 2020.
Jim Thomsen, the Navy’s principal deputy assistant secretary for research, development and acquisition, said that Branch is frequently consulted by the Office of the Secretary of Defense on major procurement matters because he is “the senior most knowledgeable guy in this business.”
“There’s a lot at stake with the large shipbuilding contracts for the department, for the companies, and on Capitol Hill in terms of local economies and jobs,’ said Thomsen. “Elliott takes everything into account.”
In addition to his many duties, Branch led the creation of the Navy’s preferred supplier program which gives preference to contractors that have demonstrated superior performance in controlling costs, meeting schedules, and providing quality services and products. The program now is being replicated within the Department of Defense acquisition community.
During the late 1990s, Branch was responsible for the formulating a multi-year initiative that transformed Navy’s acquisition from a paper-based to an electronic system. He also reduced Navy procurement regulations by 50 percent.
The Service to America Medals are presented annually by the nonprofit, nonpartisan Partnership for Public Service to celebrate excellence in our federal civil service.