Defense

Biden nominee to be top Pentagon weapons buyer withdraws amid IG probe

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President Biden’s nominee to be the Pentagon’s top weapons buyer has withdrawn from consideration amid an inspector general investigation into his tenure as the head of a Defense Department unit that serves as an emerging technologies incubator.

Pentagon press secretary John Kirby confirmed Wednesday that Michael Brown withdrew from consideration to be under secretary of Defense for acquisitions and sustainment in a letter to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.

“In his letter, he cited his concerns over the lengthy process of the investigation and his desire not to slow up the work of the department, but I would refer you to Mr. Brown for more comment on that,” Kirby said at a press briefing.

Inside Defense first reported news of Brown’s withdrawal.

Since 2018, Brown has led the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU), a Silicon Valley-headquartered office launched during the Obama administration to help connect the Pentagon to private sector innovation and help accelerate the department’s adoption of emerging technologies.

The White House announced Brown’s nomination as the Pentagon’s top acquisition official in early April, but his confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee was never scheduled.

In April, Defense One reported the Pentagon’s inspector general was looking into allegations that Brown circumvented federal hiring regulations while at the DIU.

In his withdrawal letter to Austin, Brown said he was “confident” the investigation would clear him, but said he was stepping outside because the probe could delay his confirmation for more than a year.

“While I am confident the Office of the Inspect 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 process faster and more cost-effective,” Brown said in the letter, according to reports. “I must put the interests of the department above my own enthusiasm for serving as under secretary for acquisitions and sustainment.”

Asked if Brown will continue to lead the DIU, Kirby told reporters he has “no personnel changes to announce” and that Brown “is still the director of DIU.”

Tags Defense Innovation Unit Joe Biden John Kirby Lloyd Austin Michael Brown

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