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Michael Brown withdraws nomination for DOD's top acquisition role

DOD photo by Senior Airman Perry Aston  11th Wing Public Affairs 

Defense Innovation Unit Director Michael Brown has requested his name be withdrawn from consideration to be the undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment due to delays posed by an ongoing inspector general investigation.

“While I am confident the Office of Inspector General will ultimately find no wrongdoing on my part, I know there are other qualified candidates who can focus on the urgent business of making our acquisition processes faster and more cost-effective,” Brown wrote in a letter dated July 13 and submitted to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.

Brown has been subject to a Defense Department Office of Inspector General investigation, evaluating personnel practices at DIU and accusations of nepotism, which Defense One reported soon after Brown’s nomination in April.

Brown, who was previously CEO of Symantec, wrote in his withdrawal letter that service members “deserve Senate-confirmed leadership as quickly as possible” and that the DOD IG’s investigation into DIU’s personnel practices could delay his nomination by a year.

Inside Defense first reported the news of Brown’s withdrawal and DOD later confirmed the reports. Additionally, John Kirby, the Pentagon’s press secretary, said there were no personnel changes to announce and that Brown would stay in his role as the director of the DIU.

Brown has been credited with expanding the once “experimental” organization’s portfolio since he joined in 2018, helping field almost 30 new capabilities. DIU is known as DOD’s innovation arm that helps with prototyping and fielding commercial technologies through rapid acquisition methods.

Brown’s nomination withdrawal comes as the Biden administration has struggled to process nominees for high-profile positions, particularly in DOD.

The White House nominated two former DOD acquisition executives for other roles July 13: Gabe Camarillo had previously been the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army (Acquisition, Logistics & Technology), and was nominated to be undersecretary of the Army; and Alan Estevez, the former Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense (Acquisition, Technology & Logistics), was tapped to be the Commerce Department’s undersecretary for industry and security.

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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