Biden Nominee for Pentagon’s Top Weapons Buyer Withdraws
Michael Brown to remain at DIU for now, Pentagon says.
President Biden’s nominee to serve as the Pentagon’s top acquisition chief removed his name from consideration Monday, citing an ongoing IG investigation into hiring and contracting violations that may have occured during his tenure as head of one of the military’s technology incubators.
Michael Brown has led the Pentagon’s Silicon Valley-based Defense Innovation Unit, or DIU, since 2018, and in April was tapped to take on the much larger role of managing the Pentagon’s weapons buying for its major programs, such as the F-35.
Former DIU chief financial officer Bob Ingegneri, who had worked for Brown, came to Defense One that month with allegations he had filed in a formal DOD Inspector General complaint. Those potential violations included federal job descriptions that were tailored to make a job impossible to fill except by specific friends or associates, and that DIU leadership was “continually adding funds to a firm-fixed-price contract” in order to direct raises to specific employees at private companies working with the office.
While other defense nominees who had been named at the same time as Brown—such as comptroller Michael McCord—moved forward through Senate confirmation, Brown’s nomination lingered for months.
Inside Defense was the first to report that Brown had withdrawn his name from consideration.
“I can confirm for you that the secretary is in receipt of a letter from Mr. Brown expressing his desire to withdraw his name from nomination for the position of under secretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment,” Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said at a briefing Tuesday.
As to whether Brown would continue leading DIU, Kirby said: “I have no personnel changes to announce.”
“Unfortunately, it appears that an ongoing investigation by the Department of Defense Inspector General into personnel practices at the Defense Innovation Unit will delay consideration of my nomination by up to a year,” Brown wrote. “While I am confident the Office of the 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.”
DIU was established with just a handful of employees by Defense Secretary Ash Carter in 2015, during the Obama administration, to speed innovations from the private tech sector to DOD. The organization has grown to a staff of 62 civilian and military personnel who have vetted thousands of commercial bids to create innovative solutions for the Defense Department.