WASHINGTON — There are multiple candidates for U.S. Army secretary still being evaluated, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis said Friday.

"We do have, let me say plural, candidates," Mattis told reporters Friday at the Pentagon. "I'd rather let that one be announced by the president and the clerk of the senate rather than getting out in front of him. We've done our due diligence."

The Pentagon has been without an Army secretary since Eric Fanning stepped down from the role following the inauguration of President Donald Trump, though it hasn't been for lack of trying.

In December, the White House announced it intended to nominate Vincent Viola, founder of digital stock trading firm Virtu Financial and owner of the National Hockey League's Florida Panthers, for the Army's top job. But in February, Viola withdrew his name, citing an inability to meet requirements to divest himself from his business interests.

Then in April, the White House announced that Mark Green, a veteran serving in the Tennessee State Senate, was their pick. By early May, Green was forced to withdraw his nomination following pushback from top senators over controversial comments about Islam and LGBT individuals.

While the Army job remains open, the Navy took a step closer Thursday when the Senate Armed Services Committee voted Richard Spencer out of committee. That sets up the nominee for a full Senate confirmation vote next week. Spencer is expected to pass easily.