WASHINGTON — U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration head Frank Klotz will be retiring Jan. 19.

News of Klotz’s retirement was first reported by the Exchange Monitor publication.

The NNSA is a semiautonomous office of the Department of Energy that has oversight for the U.S. nuclear warhead stockpile. While the Air Force and Navy have the lead in developing new delivery systems, such as an updated intercontinental ballistic missile fleet, NNSA is in charge of updating and maintaining the destructive payloads.

Klotz, a retired Air Force general who has been in the job since 2014, was the fourth administrator in the NNSA’s history and has received generally positive marks from all sides of the nuclear community. He is also the rare Obama-era appointee who was kept on when the Trump administration took office, although not without drama.

President Donald Trump has announced his intent to nominate Lisa Gordon-Hagerty, a longtime nuclear expert who previously worked at DOE, as Klotz’s replacement, but she has yet to go through the often slow-moving confirmation process.

It is unclear who will serve as the acting director. Requests for comment to the DOE were not returned by press time. While Klotz was kept on by the new administration, his deputy, Madelyn Creedon, was asked to step down. Since then, the agency has served without Senate-confirmed leaders in either the principal deputy administrator or deputy administrator for defense programs jobs.

Having an acting director in the near future is unfortunate timing for the agency, as February is expected to include both the rollout of the Nuclear Posture Review and the fiscal 2019 budget request — all of which come hand in hand with congressional hearings.

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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