Austin: DOD working with White House for new acquisition chief nominee

By Tony Bertuca / July 21, 2021 at 2:21 PM

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said today he is concerned the Pentagon, after the withdrawal of one nominee and the planned departure of a key acting official, will be without a senior acquisition chief, but stressed he is working with the White House to identify a qualified candidate.

"Absolutely we'll provide another name for the White House to consider," he said during a Pentagon press conference. "That's an ongoing process."

Last week, Michael Brown, director of the Defense Innovation Unit, withdrew his name as President Biden's nominee for the under secretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment, citing an ongoing inspector general investigation that could prove lengthy.

The Pentagon also confirmed last week that Stacy Cummings, currently the acting USD A&S, is planning to soon leave her post.

It is unclear who might now be in the running for the job.

"Of course, I'm concerned about the A&S," Austin said today. "I consider that job very, very important."

Meanwhile, Heidi Shyu's nomination to be under secretary of defense for research and engineering is being held in the Senate, along with a host of other Biden nominees, including Frank Kendall, who has been tapped for Air Force secretary.

Austin said the Senate has confirmed six defense nominees thus far, while 10 are awaiting confirmation votes and five have been reported to the Senate Armed Services Committee.

"Certainly, we'd like to see more," he said. "We continue to work with the White House to make sure that we have . . . qualified applicants to fill these seats," he said.