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WH CTO to take over DOD's top research role

Michael Kratsios, shown here at a 2018 event in Fargo, N.D. Photo: North Dakota Department of Transportation. 

White House CTO Michael Kratsios is taking over one of the Defense Department’s undersecretary of defense for research and engineering.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper announced July 13 that Kratsios would take over as acting undersecretary of defense for research and engineering after Michael Griffin officially resigned from the post July 10.

“In seeking to fill this position we wanted someone with experience in identifying and developing new technologies and working closely with a wide range of industry partners,” Esper said in a statement. “We think Michael is the right person for this job and we are excited to have him on the team.”

Mark Lewis, the director of defense research and engineering for modernization, will serve as the acting deputy undersecretary of defense for research and engineering, following Lisa Porter’s resignation from that position.

The announcement comes as DOD, and federal agencies more broadly, struggle with a rash of resignations and numerous vacancies of Senate-confirmed positions. That pattern has raised questions about how lack of permanent leadership, as well as concerns that undue White House influence could affect policy creation and implementation.

Kratsios, who was confirmed as U.S. CTO in August, will now oversee one of DOD’s biggest research and development budgets, as the department focuses on increased experimentation and fielding prototypes.

As the president’s chief technology advisor, Kratsios has pushed initiatives from artificial intelligence to autonomous vehicles.

About the Author

Lauren C. Williams is senior editor for FCW and Defense Systems, covering defense and cybersecurity.

Prior to joining FCW, Williams was the tech reporter for ThinkProgress, where she covered everything from internet culture to national security issues. In past positions, Williams covered health care, politics and crime for various publications, including The Seattle Times.

Williams graduated with a master's in journalism from the University of Maryland, College Park and a bachelor's in dietetics from the University of Delaware. She can be contacted at [email protected], or follow her on Twitter @lalaurenista.

Click here for previous articles by Wiliams.


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