Mike Brown backs out of nomination for top Pentagon contracting job

Brett Goldstein, Neil Degrasse Tyson and Mike Brown receive a brief from an Airman at an MQ-9 Reaper display at Creech Air Force Base, Nevada, Sept. 12, 2019. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Haley Stevens)

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Mike Brown on Wednesday requested that his nomination to be the Pentagon’s top contracting officer be withdrawn amid an ongoing Department of Defense Inspector General investigation.

Brown, currently director of the Defense Innovation Unit, sent a letter to Department of Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin requesting that President Biden withdraw his nomination, saying that the investigation has roadblocked his confirmation to be DOD’s head of acquisition and sustainment and “our men and women in uniform deserve Senate-confirmed leadership as soon as possible.”

Brown came under scrutiny after one of his former employees alleged to the IG that he handed contracts and jobs to close allies and friends in a way that pushed the ethical boundaries in that role. The allegation came soon after Brown’s nomination was announced.

“Unfortunately, it appears that an ongoing investigation by the Department of Defense Office of Inspector General into personnel practices at the Defense Innovation Unit will delay consideration of my nomination by up to a year,” he wrote in the letter, which was obtained by FedScoop.

In his withdrawal request letter, Brown signals that he will continue leading DIU.

Brown would have brought a unique background to the role traditionally held by contract lawyers and former defense industry executives. He developed his career in Silicon Valley namely as the CEO of cybersecurity company Symantec before becoming a Presidential Innovation Fellow prior to taking over DIU. During his time leading DIU, he has championed the need for DOD to better scale the innovative technologies through rapid contracting.

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Acquisition, Defense Innovation Unit (DIU), IT acquisition, Mike Brown, Senate Armed Services Committee
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