WASHINGTON — Stacy Cummings, the acting deputy assistant secretary of defense for acquisition, will temporarily fill the department’s top acquisition office once Joe Biden becomes president, Defense News has learned.
Ellen Lord, the undersecretary for acquisition and sustainment, will step down on Jan. 20, with Cummings filling that role until the Biden administration can put its own Senate-confirmed individual into the role.
Cummings is a career member of the Senior Executive Service and previously held jobs at the Department of Transportation and the Department of the Navy. Over the summer, Cummings led the Joint Acquisition Task Force, which was the Defense Department’s interagency point of contact for dealing with COVID-19 procurement issues.
Lord, a former head of Textron Systems, was the longest-serving Senate-confirmed individual in the Pentagon under the Trump administration. During her tenure, she managed to avoid getting brought into the political fights that downed so many other department appointees, instead focusing on rewriting acquisition regulations in an attempt to streamline the department’s famously arcane processes.
However, the COVID-19 pandemic brought new focus on Lord, as her office quickly became a hub of production for much-needed goods and vaccines through the Defense Production Act. Over the summer, Democratic members of Congress criticized Lord’s office for using money from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act to support the defense industry.
It is expected that either Dyke Weatherington, who leads the acquisition and sustainment information and integration portfolio management office, or Gregory Kausner, the executive director for international cooperation, will serve as acting assistant secretary of defense for acquisition, the No. 2 job at the acquisition and sustainment office currently held by Kevin Fahey.
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.