WASHINGTON — Thomas Harker, the current U.S. Navy comptroller, has been named the acting comptroller for the Pentagon.
Harker was “designated the authority” of the undersecretary of defense (comptroller) role on June 26, according to a department spokesman, following the official resignation of acting Comptroller Elaine McCusker.
Harker will also continue to serve as the Navy comptroller, as job he has held since being sworn into office in January 2018. A 20-year veteran of the Coast Guard, Harker previously worked in financial management roles in the Department of Veterans Affairs as well as the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
The comptroller is the top financial expert for the Defense Department, helping to oversee the creation of the department’s budget and to manage the annual audit of the Pentagon. Harker becomes the third person to fill the job during the Trump administration, although only David Norquist was actually confirmed by the Senate.
After Norquist was promoted to deputy secretary of defense in early 2019, McCusker, who had been confirmed as deputy comptroller, was named acting comptroller. Although she was announced as the nominee for the job, McCusker saw her nomination pulled following revelations that she had, in internal emails, questioned the legality of holding up weapons funding for Ukraine, a key issue in the impeachment of President Donald Trump.
With no official nominee announced for the comptroller spot and a dwindling Senate calendar, it is entirely possible that the comptroller role will be filled by an acting official for the entire second half of the Trump administration’s first term. The deputy comptroller role, empty since McCusker was elevated to acting comptroller, also remains without an announced nominee.
There are currently 14 Senate-confirmed roles filled by acting officials at the Pentagon; that number will grow by two at the end of the week, when Mike Griffin and Lisa Porter, the undersecretary and deputy undersecretary of research and engineering, respectively, depart 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.