WASHINGTON — White House Chief Technology Officer Michael Kratsios will be taking over as acting research and engineering head at the Pentagon, the Department of Defense announced Monday.

Kratsios will fill the spot left when Mike Griffin, the first undersecretary of defense for research and engineering, departed the Pentagon last Friday. Griffin and his deputy, Lisa Porter, have officially opened up a new business together, called Logiq Inc., based in Virginia.

Mark Lewis, the Pentagon’s director of defense research and engineering for modernization, will serve as acting deputy undersecretary, filling in for Porter. Lewis had temporarily been named acting undersecretary last week.

“In seeking to fill this position we wanted someone with experience in identifying and developing new technologies and working closely with a wide range of industry partners,” Defense Secretary Mark Esper said in a statement. “We think Michael is the right person for this job and we are excited to have him on the team.”

Kratsios comes from a different background than Griffin and Porter, who each had long histories of government experience. Kratsios formerly serviced as chief of staff to Peter Thiel, the tech investor who founded Palantir and made major funding contributions to President Donald Trump’s campaign. Kratsios joined the administration in early 2017 as a technology adviser to the president. He was confirmed as CTO in August 2019.

During the ongoing coronavirus crisis, Kratsios has played an important role in the White House’s COVID-19 High Performance Computing Consortium, a private-public partnership with several federal agencies and private sector agencies using supercomputers to stop the spread of the disease. He has also been the point person for the White House on issues such as artificial intelligence and 5G — both of which are technologies that fall under the R&E role.

Andrew Eversden in Washington contributed to this report.

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.

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