Biden nominates LaPlante as defense acquisition chief

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President Biden has nominated veteran military technologist William LaPlante as undersecretary for acquisition and sustainment at the Department of Defense.

The job would mark a return to government for LaPlante, who previously served as assistant secretary for acquisition, technology and logistics at the Air Force during the Obama administration. In that role, he helped to lead acquisition programs including for the B-21 long-range strike bomber.

If the Senate confirms him as undersecretary, LaPlante will fill a vacancy created by chief Ellen Lord, who departed the acquisition job at the end of 2020 along with the outgoing Trump administration.

The undersecretary for acquisition and sustainment at the DOD acts as the main staff assistant and adviser to the secretary of Defense for all matters relating to military procurement including technology and logistics.

LaPlante has over three decades’ experience working on military procurement and policy, most recently as president and chief executive officer of the nonprofit Draper Laboratory. Prior to that, he was senior vice president for the MITRE Corporation’s National Sector, where he oversaw the operation of federally funded research and development centers for the departments of Defense and Commerce.

LaPlante is a present and past member of several scientific boards and commissions focused on bettering national security, including serving as a commissioner on the congressionally mandated Section 809 Panel, which previously undertook a review of military acquisition policies.

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Department of Defense (DOD), Ellen Lord, MITRE, Under secretary of defense