Santos out as DOD industrial policy chief

By Tony Bertuca / May 14, 2020 at 1:54 PM

Jen Santos is leaving her current position as the deputy assistant secretary of defense for industrial policy to take a new job with Hondo Guerts, assistant secretary of the Navy for research, development, and acquisition, according to a Pentagon statement.

Santos' new job with the Navy will be to "support critical projects," Defense Department spokesman Lt. Col. Mike Andrews said.

"The department's commitment to closely partnering with the defense industry remains unwavering, and we will continue to identify and mitigate impacts from the COVID-19 national emergency to ensure readiness and modernization," Andrews said.

Scott Baum, currently the principal director for industrial policy, will take over in an acting capacity.

Santos' exit was first reported by Politico, which said she told her staff Thursday morning she had been fired.

DOD did not immediately respond when asked if it disputes that characterization of the event.

A defense official stressed that Santos is not under suspicion of "anything illegal or immoral."

Still, the official said, "she was moved to another position."

Pentagon acquisition chief Ellen Lord has mentioned Santos and her work in previous public statements about how much DOD is engaging with industry amid the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Lord praised the work of Santos' office, including her four weekly calls with defense industry associations and executives.

Santos was also a key member of Lord's team tasked with leveraging the Defense Production Act to bolster DOD's response to COVID-19.

Santos assumed the job in June 2019, succeeding Eric Chewning who became chief of staff to former Defense Secretary Pat Shanahan.