Senate panel blocks DISA director nominee

The search is on for a new director of the Defense Department's lead information technology agency after the Senate Armed Services Committee blocked the nomination of Navy Rear Adm. Elizabeth Hight to be director of the Defense Information Systems Agency.

Hight will continue in her current position as DISA’s vice director and will be the agency’s nominal director when Air Force Lt. Gen. Charles Croom Jr. retires from the position July 22. Her nomination to become DISA’s first director from the Navy and its first woman director is effectively dead, DOD sources said. President Bush nominated Hight Feb. 5 to succeed Croom.

The committee killed Hight's nomination after an unnamed member voiced concerns about possible conflicts of interest due to Hight’s marriage to a senior executive at a major defense contracting firm, the sources said. Hight’s husband is Gary Salisbury, vice president of business development and sales at Northrop Grumman's mission systems sector.

Salisbury is a retired Air Force brigadier general, and from 2000 until his retirement in 2003, he was director of command, control and communications systems at U.S. European Command, succeeding Croom in that post. Previously, Salisbury was commander of DISA's interoperability and engineering organization from 1997 to 2000.

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