On Nov. 4, retired Navy Capt. William “Ben” McNeal’s accomplishments were on full display at the annual Department of the Navy Acquisition Excellence Awards Program. The Department of the Navy Acquisition Excellence Awards Program recognizes individuals and teams who have made outstanding contributions in enhancing competition and promoting innovation in support of the Navy and Marine Corps acquisition programs. McNeal, a Jackson, Miss. native, provided unique contributions to the Navy workforce during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and stood out as a prime example of a leader who exhibited professional excellence and innovation.
As a reflection of his leadership and ability to provide the Navy with expanded telework capabilities, the Naval Enterprise Networks Program Office (NEN) that McNeal led was awarded the Dr. Al Somoroff Acquisition Award for Program Office of the Year. Under his direction, the program office implemented creative and effective management processes resulting in lower costs and better buying power—ultimately saving the Navy more than $258 million in fiscal year 2020. McNeal was also chosen as a finalist for the 2021 Program Manager of the Year Award for his exceptional leadership in addressing the challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic while continuing to support and advance NEN priorities.
In October 2020, McNeal was appointed the Deputy Program Executive Officer (acting) for the Program Executive Office for Digital and Enterprise Services (PEO Digital). As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, much of the globally distributed Navy workforce moved to a remote work environment. The new environment required vastly expanded network access and new tools for interaction and productivity that allowed Sailors, Marines, civilians, and contracted support staff to work safely in a remote environment. Despite facing budget shortfalls and equipment shortages caused by a global manufacturing slowdown, McNeal's leadership and expertise enabled the Navy to safely execute critical functions and maintain continuity of operations amid the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As a result of your staunch leadership, dedication, and expertise, you and your team really did make a difference—a significant difference,” said Michael Moran, Vice Admiral and Military Deputy for the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development, and Acquisition. Speaking at McNeal’s May 2021 retirement ceremony, Moran went on to praise the captain for leaving a legacy of continued improvement and advancement. “The program [NEN] has never been in better shape. Congratulations on a great tour and a great career. You and your family left the Navy better than you found it, and no one can ask for more.”
Before his most recent accomplishments in NEN, McNeal led an impressive 30-year career worthy of recognition. Beginning in 1991, McNeal earned a bachelor's degree in computer science from Southern University. After commissioning into the Navy through the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps Scholarship Program, McNeal began his career aboard the USS Kalamazoo in Norfolk, Va. While aboard the Kalamazoo, he earned special designations as a surface warfare officer and earned a master’s in public administration from Troy State University. McNeal then attended the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif., from 1995 to 1997, where he earned a master's in applied physics. While enrolled, McNeal was selected for lateral transfer to the Engineering Duty Officer Community. In 1998, McNeal reported to the Norfolk Naval Shipyard and served in a variety of roles.
In August 2001, McNeal was assigned to the USS Wasp in Norfolk, Va. During his time aboard the Wasp, he made a post-9/11 5th Fleet deployment. Following his tour, McNeal reported to the Installations and Logistics Directorate of the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command (SPAWAR) as the Pacific Fleet afloat installations and strike group manager. In July 2005, McNeal reported as an officer in charge of SPAWAR Systems Facility in Yokosuka, Japan. From August 2010 to August 2017, McNeal served as the deputy program manager, and subsequently program manager, of the Consolidated Afloat Networks and Enterprise Services (CANES) network system. On Aug. 1, 2017, McNeal assumed command of the Naval Enterprise Networks Program Office, overseeing the acquisition and continued development of the network portfolio, including one of the world's largest intranets—the Navy Marine Corps Intranet. In the last position he held before his retirement, McNeal served as the Deputy Program Executive Officer (acting) for PEO Digital in Washington, D.C.
Last May, McNeal received a well-deserved formal retirement ceremony at the Navy Memorial Plaza in Washington, D.C. Surrounded by family, friends, and colleagues, McNeal was honored for his 30 years of service to his country and the Navy. The Jackson, Miss. native is leaving behind an impressive legacy following a full, successful career in the U.S. Navy.