Alum William Johnson receives Naval Submarine League Distinguished Civilian Award

On November 8, 2018, William (Bill) Johnson B.S. EE '70, M.Eng. EE '75 was awarded the Naval Submarine League’s Distinguished Civilian Award at the NSL 36th Annual Symposium.


The Distinguished Civilian award is presented annually to select individuals whose work has been of significant importance to the Submarine Force. Awardees accomplishments must result in a clearly identifiable contribution to the submarine program which must represent a breakthrough directed at, and important to, one or more aspects of the submarine program.


Mr. Johnson is widely recognized as the “Father” and Chief Architect of the Acoustic-Rapid Commercial- Off-the-Shelf Insertion (A-RCI) approach that has now evolved Navy-wide under the construct called Naval Open Architecture. Use of Open Architecture helps reduce costs, increase flexibility and substantially decrease the time heretofore required to deliver performance improvements to the fleet. Development of the Advanced Program Build process allows software improvements to be easily installed on a scheduled basis by using the concept “middleware” to ensure ease of both hardware and software improvements. Johnson’s efforts resulted in an innovative, dynamic change to Department of Defense development and acquisition efforts. The ARCI program is arguably the “Gold Standard” of programs designed to build/improve existing capabilities.


One nomination called Johnson a “national treasure.” His work in developing A-RCI – and leading numerous critical efforts throughout his career had a direct impact on the submarine force’s operational capability. This Distinguished Civilian Award is evidence that Mr. Johnson has had a significant, positive impact on the United States Navy.


Johnson is currently an independent consultant and sole proprietor of WMJ Associates LLC which he established in July 2007.



The Naval Submarine League Distinguished Civilian Award for Submarine Professional Excellence Is presented to Mr. William H. Johnson November 8, 2018 For Service as set forth in the following citation:


For meritorious weapons system acquisition services as the PEO Submarine’s Sonar Systems Program Manager.


Over the past 30 years, Mr. Johnson has made profound contributions to the U.S. Submarine Force and the U.S. Navy that span the spectrum from solving highly technical issues to improving acquisition execution. In the mid-1990s, the submarine community recognized the impending loss of U.S. technical superiority in submarine acoustics when foreign submarines began to exhibit major reductions in noise signature. This resulted in a critical need to improve acoustic sensing systems to better identify and track foreign submarines. New acquisition processes had to be created to grapple with the need to rapidly increase warfighting performance while continuously decreasing cost. This solution was inspired and driven through the federal bureaucracy by Bill Johnson. The approach was dubbed A-RCI (Acoustic Rapid Commercial Off the Shelf Insertion). Bill Johnson is widely recognized as the Father of A-RCI. With a combination of common sense and stubbornness, he created a new refreshed development philosophy and introduced continuous competition and rivalries while learning to exploit new emerging commercial digital technologies. He overcame bureaucratic inertia as well as lab and industry incumbencies and introduced the best resources that the nation had to offer. The team he developed set the expectations for excellence and his management style encouraged members of the team to think and act like leaders. The structure he put in place remains largely intact 20 years after the program was first initiated. Following his highly successful years within the submarine community, in PEO Integrated Warfare Systems, his concepts were instrumental in improving warfighting capabilities in Naval Integrated Fire Control Systems and Combat Systems Open Architecture. This achievement clearly warrants the recognition of the Naval Submarine League Distinguished Civilian Award.