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Pentagon Comptroller Bob Hale to Step Down

After helping the military navigate through some of the toughest budget battles in history, Pentagon Comptroller Bob Hale is stepping down.

President Barack Obama said Friday that he is nominating Mike McCord, who is currently Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for the Comptroller’s office, to replace him.

Obama tapped Hale in 2009 to balance the books at the Pentagon. Before that, Hale served as executive director of the American Society of Military Comptrollers, and was comptroller of the Air Force from 1994 to 2001.

When the time does come to leave the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense (Comptroller), I will do so with decidedly mixed feelings,” Hale said in a statement to Defense One. “But having been in this job for about five years — longer than any DOD comptroller since the 1950s — I know it is getting close to the time when I should pursue other opportunities and challenges.”

Hale said he will remain on the job until McCord is confirmed by Congress, adding that McCord will bring “continuity” to the job. He did not say what he plans to do next.

Last fall, Hale gave an exclusive interview to Defense One and lamented the current fiscal situation in the country.

“The uncertainty in the financial area is unprecedented. I don’t ever remember a circumstance when we were finishing up changes in the budget we’re about to complete, making potentially major changes in the fiscal 14 budget and then I might add, planning for a wide range in [fiscal year] 15 because we don’t know what decisions the president will make, understandably he probably doesn’t know what decision he’ll make yet as to what level he’ll want us to submit the budget at for fiscal 15, so certainly the range of uncertainty — that is unprecedented, at least in my 30 or so years’ experience working in and around this department’s budget,” Hale said. “And its unprecedented and bad because it drives us to this triage, when you don’t have enough time to plan, quality suffers. It’s a bad situation.”

Rep. Mike Conaway, R-Texas, who sits on the House Armed Services Committee, praised Hale for “his professionalism and selflessness in doing one of the more thankless jobs within the Department of Defense.”

“Mr. Hale led by example and tackled some of the more difficult, intractable issues within the DoD – one being the financial management of the Department. As many know, auditing the Pentagon has been a top priority of mine, a task that led me to work with Mr. Hale and his team frequently. While there is still a ways to go in the endeavor to audit the DoD, he was instrumental in advancing the audit effort – we would not be where we are were it not for Mr. Hale,” Conaway said. “Today, because of his leadership, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Changing the culture within the DoD is not easy, a fact many within the department intimately know; yet, Mr. Hale has slowly reversed the tide, and for this, the U.S. taxpayer and I are truly grateful.”