Delores Etter, Navy’s Acquisition Chief, Resigns

By Geoff Fein

Delores Etter, the Navy's acquisition chief, resigned Friday to return to teach at the United States Naval Academy, where she had been a professor before taking the job as the service acquisition czar.

"She informed her staff of her intentions to resign," a Navy official said. "She intends to return to the Naval Academy for the spring semester."

Etter met with Secretary of the Navy Donald Winter Friday to tender her resignation, effective Dec. 31. However, Etter is expected to leave her position as Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development and Acquisition (ASN RDA) by mid-November, a source said.

Etter was sworn in Nov. 7, 2005. From August 2001 to November 2005, she was a member of the Electrical Engineering faculty at the Naval Academy.

According to the source, the decision to resign was Etter's own. Etter's husband, a scientist at Boeing [BA], retired last week, and that may have helped spur Etter's decision, the source noted.

The Lexington Institute's Loren Thompson said Etter's departure won't come as a surprise to anyone.

Winter has been at the forefront of a review of the Navy's acquisition process and that may have led to issues between the Navy Secretary and Etter, Thompson said.

"It's clear the new Navy Secretary has his own ideas about Navy acquisition," Thompson said. "Winter wanted to be his own acquisition executive."

In the two years she served as ASN RDA, Etter had oversight of a number of key programs that ran into cost and schedule troubles, including the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) and the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle (EFV).

Etter was also leading the effort to develop and buy the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle for the Army, Navy and Marine Corps.

Additionally, a number of key Navy programs, from DDG-1000 to the next-generation aircraft carrier CVN-78, are nearing contract award under Etter's tenure.

Etter has also been at the forefront of developing a plan for moving the Navy's surface combatant fleet to incorporate open architecture systems into contract language.

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