WASHINGTON ― The Senate confirmed three of President Donald Trump’s Pentagon picks Thursday, just as five senior officials at the department are leaving.
On Thursday, chief management officer nominee Lisa Hershman was confirmed with chief information officer nominee Dana Deasy and Navy general counsel nominee Robert Sander. The names were part of a package of final business for the Senate, just before its holiday recess.
Hershman, a former CEO, became acting chief management officer roughly a year ago, amid the resignation of John Gibson. Newly established by Congress to streamline the Pentagon and root out inefficiencies, the Pentagon’s No. 3 civilian found nearly $5 billion in savings by the end of fiscal 2018.
“I know the administration is eager to continue to have her not just working on behalf of the American people, but in an official capacity because she can save even more money and drive even more efficiencies than she has already been achieving,” Republican Sen. Todd Young said Thursday. Young represents Hershman’s home state of Indiana and helped shepherd her nomination.
Deasy is already CIO, but congressional action made the position confirmable by Congress. The confirmation comes as the Pentagon is grappling with how to harness artificial intelligence and as Amazon challenges the award of the mammoth Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure contract, also known as JEDI, to Microsoft last month.
Sander was the principal deputy general counsel for the Army and acting general counsel. He also served as an attorney with the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and in the counterterrorism section of the Justice Department’s National Security Division.
In the last week, the Pentagon communicated the departures of Randall Schriver, the Pentagon’s top Asia policy official; Jimmy Stewart, the acting undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness; Kari Bingen, the principal deputy undersecretary of defense for intelligence; and Tina Kaidanow, the senior adviser for international cooperation. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency chief Steven Walker is also leaving.
After Defense Secretary Mark Esper predicted progress toward filling Pentagon jobs in August, the Senate confirmed Barbara Barrett as Air Force secretary, Ryan McCarthy as Army secretary and Gen. John Hyten as the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Joe Gould was the senior Pentagon reporter for Defense News, covering the intersection of national security policy, politics and the defense industry. He had previously served as Congress reporter.