Bayer, ASN EI&E, resigns one day after Spencer commits to not dissolving position

By Justin Katz / March 8, 2019 at 1:00 PM

Phyllis Bayer, assistant secretary of the Navy for energy, installations and environment, has resigned her position, the Navy announced today.

"While Navy leadership has been recently evaluating options with this portfolio due to competing priorities, the Secretary of the Navy remains fully committed to the role and responsibilities," the statement reads.

"The Department has begun an active search for an equally qualified candidate to become the next ASN EI&E," the statement continues.

The announcement comes one day after Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jim Inhofe (R-OK) asked Navy Secretary Richard Spencer to not dissolve Bayer's position in lieu of a new senior civilian for information management.

The service had been mulling doing as much, but Inhofe insisted Spencer refrain because of the position's connection to problems with military housing. Inhofe had most of the Defense Department's senior leadership before his committee yesterday to testify about those problems.

The commitment by Spencer came after Inhofe questioned why Spencer moved forward with an "announcement" despite Congress instructing him to refrain.

It is not clear what announcement Inhofe was referring to, but Spencer and Navy Under Secretary Thomas Modly have publicly spoken about creating a new assistant secretary for information management.

Inhofe said doing that "by default" would mean eliminating the energy, installations and environment position.

"We told you not to, and you did it anyway. I'd like to know, first of all, why you did it?" Inhofe said, referring to the announcement. The senator characterized the current senior civilian position as "part of the bureaucracy that is responsible for what led" to the hearing.

Spencer apologized for "getting ahead of the lights," and affirmed that he would not eliminate the position.

Spencer has not publicly spoken about eliminating the ASN EI&E, but under current federal laws, it appears to be a prerequisite to stand up a new assistant secretary. The Navy may only have four assistant secretaries, and the other three -- manpower, acquisition and finance -- are explicitly required under current statutes.