The Pentagon’s Research Chief and His Deputy Are Resigning

Michael Griffin, Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, speaks to the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on May 6, 2020.

Greg Nash/Pool via AP

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Michael Griffin, Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, speaks to the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on May 6, 2020.

Michael Griffin, defense undersecretary for research and engineering, and his deputy announced their July 10 departure in an email to staff.

Updated at 4:24 p.m.: 

The Pentagon’s research chief and his deputy told their staff they will leave on July 10 to take jobs in the private sector, Defense One has learned.

Mike Griffin, defense undersecretary for research and engineering, and his deputy Lisa Porter, revealed the news in a Tuesday afternoon email.

“We want to inform you that we have submitted our resignations from our present positions, effective July 10,” they wrote in the email, which was reviewed by Defense One. “A private-sector opportunity has presented itself to us, offering an opportunity we have decided to pursue together. It has been a pleasure leading this great team over the past few years.”

Inside Defense first reported Griffin and Porter’s departure.

Griffin is the Pentagon’s first research and engineering undersecretary, a position created in 2018 when Congress divided up the duties of the undersecretary of acquisition, technology and logistics. In his two-plus years, Griffin has at times had a confrontational relationship with his staff and Congress.

Less than a month on the job, Griffin boasted to a room of industry executives: “I really only care about people who can overrule me.”

Griffin’s tenure was marked by occasional public dust-ups with long-time colleagues and friends. Chris Shank, who ran the Pentagon’s Strategic Capabilities Office, quit in June 2019 when Griffin moved the high-profile office to Darpa. Congress refused to let Griffin move the SCO and assigned the office to the deputy defense secretary.

In March 2019, Fred Kennedy quit as head of the Space Development Agency, an organization tasked with quickly launching dozens of satellites, after less than five months on the job.

“We ended up having disagreements over how to run the organization and what the outcome should look like,” Kennedy told Space News in October 2019. “There were some fundamental disagreements that I had with where I was being asked to go.”

Soon after Shank and Kennedy were dismissed, Inside Defense published a scathing report about Griffin’s management style and his attempts to assume more power within the Pentagon.

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