Betsy Schmid, a Senate Appropriations defense subcommittee staffer, has emerged as the leading candidate to become Navy undersecretary. Pentagon Comptroller Robert Hale is among those expected to step down in the coming months. (DoD)
WASHINGTON — The White House is working to fill several high-level Pentagon posts as incumbents prepare to step down as the Obama administration begins a second term amid a fury of budget uncertainty.
Deborah Lee James, executive vice president for communications and government affairs at SAIC, has emerged as the leading candidate to replace Air Force Secretary Michael Donley, who is stepping down in June.
James, who served as assistant defense secretary for Reserve Affairs from 1993-1998, also has Capitol Hill experience, having served as a staffer on the House Armed Services Committee.
Pentagon Comptroller Robert Hale is among those expected to step down in the coming months, according to multiple sources. He will join Christine Fox, the director of DoD’s Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation office, who is stepping down at the end of June.
Jamie Morin, the Air Force comptroller, has been said to be a candidate for both positions.
Betsy Schmid, a Senate Appropriations defense subcommittee staffer, has emerged as the leading candidate to become Navy undersecretary, according to several sources. If confirmed, Schmid would replace Robert Work, who stepped down earlier this year and is now the CEO of the Center for New American Security think tank.
Hale had worked tirelessly over the past six months as the Pentagon has been hit with billions of dollars in budget cuts, stemming from sequestration. He has worked just about every day this year as he has looked to find ways to ease the blow of spending cuts, sources said.
“Well I have no immediate plans to leave, but I won’t be here forever,” Hale said during a May 2 taping of This Week in Defense News.
During his tenure, he has guided numerous DoD drills to prepare for government shutdowns and operating under continuing resolutions as political gridlock has sent the normal budgeting process off the tracks.
Fox’s departure will come after officials wrap up the Strategic Choices and Management Review a wide-ranging review of the DoD’s military strategy that will present options for how to tackle and expected era of cuts to defense spending.