Deputy secretary to stick at Pentagon through transition

Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work will stay on briefly as the senior Pentagon civilian to assist the incoming Trump administration, and officials say it will be business as usual at DOD until new appointees say otherwise.

Robert O. Work, Deputy Secretary of Defense.
 

Bob Work, the deputy secretary of defense, will stay on the job during the early days of the Trump administration.

Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work will stay on for a brief period as the Pentagon's senior civilian, according to DOD officials.

Officials speaking to FCW on background confirmed reports that secretary of Defense nominee James Mattis asked Work to stay after the end of the Obama administration to provide continuity and leadership until President-elect Trump's new team is in place.

Current Assistant Secretary of the Army for Financial Management Robert Speer will also stay on as the top Army civilian until Vincent Viola, Trump's nominee for Army secretary, is confirmed.

Pentagon CIO Terry Halvorsen, meanwhile, told reporters in a roundtable that Feb. 28 would be his last day on the job.

CNN has reported that assistant secretary of the Navy for research, development and acquisition Sean Stackley will serve as acting secretary of the Navy, and Air Force undersecretary Lisa Disbrow will head the Air Force.

According to various DOD officials, there are no expected pauses or changes to ongoing acquisition or innovation programs such as the Defense Innovation Unit Experimental. One official said the Army will "keep rolling along" until new leadership is confirmed.

According to a DIUx spokesperson, initiatives are moving forward and DIUx is currently working on its report to Congress that was mandated by the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act. The NDAA froze 75 percent of DIUx program funds and 25 percent of operational funds until it provides a comprehensive report on its mission, staffing, operations and other metrics.

The DOD referred other inquiries about personnel who have been asked to stay on temporarily to the Trump transition team. Trump officials did not respond to multiple requests for information about near-term staffing at the Pentagon.

In the meantime, the Defense Innovation Board, which outgoing Secretary of Defense Ash Carter convened in early 2016, finalized its report and presented its recommendations to the DOD this week.

The report included 11 recommendations and one interim recommendation, some of which had been presented previously and accepted by Carter, such as creating the position of chief innovation officer at the Pentagon.

Other recommendations direct the DOD to "embrace a culture of experimentation," "assess cybersecurity vulnerabilities of advanced weapons," "expand use of available acquisition waivers and exemptions" and "establish software development teams at each major command."

One new interim recommendation in the report is to create a "global and secure repository for data collection, sharing, and analysis," stating that: "As cyberwarfare and disruptive cyber activities emanating from an ever-widening host of adversaries become even more widespread and pernicious, data that is easily accessible and can be collected and used efficiently and comprehensively will be more important than ever."

Members of the DIB include physicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, Instagram COO Marne Levine, Code for America founder Jennifer Pahlka and Google Vice President Milo Medin.

At the board's public meeting on Jan. 9, its chair, Alphabet head Eric Schmidt, said he expects most, if not all, of the board members to stay on under the next administration.

"No one has told me they are leaving, but it's also the case no one has been asked by the new administration to stay because the new administration doesn't exist yet," said Schmidt.

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