WASHINGTON — With Deputy Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan now serving as the acting secretary of defense, the Pentagon’s top financial official will take over as the acting deputy.
David Norquist, who has served as Pentagon comptroller since May 2017, has been tapped to help handle the responsibilities Shanahan is leaving behind, a defense official told reporters Wednesday.
“David Norquist has had insight into virtually every tenet of this department. I have the greatest confidence in his abilities to lead a phenomenally talented team while performing the duties as Deputy Secretary of Defense,” Shanahan said in a statement.
Norquist and Shanahan appear to have a good working relationship, with the comptroller frequently appearing alongside the then-deputy during public appearances in the last few months. The two have worked closely on the fiscal 2020 budget submission, which Shanahan has repeatedly pledged will be a “masterpiece” that puts the National Defense Strategy into motion.
The comptroller also had the lead role in the Pentagon’s recently completed first-ever audit, an issue likely to come up in congressional hearings over the next few months.
Norquist has served in a number of jobs with the federal government over his career, including being named the first chief financial officer for the Department of Homeland Security. He has received largely positive reviews from people inside the building since arriving at the Pentagon.
Arnold Punaro, a former Senate Armed Services Committee staff director and retired Marine Corps three-star general, said Norquist is a “superb” choice for the role given how close the department is to delivering its budget.
“He is one of the absolutely very best we have had as the chief financial officer and under comptroller, and the budget will be paramount in the next six weeks,” Punaro said, adding that Norquist is “highly respected on the Hill and in the building.”
Aaron Mehta was deputy editor and senior Pentagon correspondent for Defense News, covering policy, strategy and acquisition at the highest levels of the Defense Department and its international partners.