The U.S. Senate on Tuesday unanimously confirmed Charles Verdon as the deputy administrator for defense programs in the Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration.
Verdon, most recently principal associate director at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s Weapons and Complex Integration Directorate, got the thumbs-up nearly seven months after President Trump nominated him for the top National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) weapons post.
Department of Energy leadership had not formally sworn Verdon in to his new job at deadline Wednesday for Defense Daily. Once installed at the NNSA’s Washington headquarters, Verdon will be responsible for the agency’s network of eight nuclear weapons labs and production facilities.
Verdon, a Ph.D. nuclear engineer, will take the helm as the budget for the NNSA’s defense programs office is slated to rise to about $11 billion in fiscal 2019 from roughly $9 billion in the current budget year. In a 2019 spending bill that was at deadline waiting on Trump's signature, Congress approved more spending to synch up development of the W80 cruise-missile warhead and its planned carrier missile, the Long-Range Standoff Weapon.
Verdon succeeds Donald Cook, who resigned as NNSA’s deputy administrator for defense programs in 2015. Phil Calbos, the defense programs office’s top career employee, has lately run the NNSA weapons portfolio on an interim basis.
Once Verdon is sworn in, the only Senate-confirmed NNSA post left to fill will be the agency’s principal deputy administrator: the second-highest ranking job in the whole agency. The administration nominated William Bookless for the job on Aug. 16, but the Senate has not scheduled a confirmation hearing yet. Like Verdon, Bookless is a Livermore physicist. If Bookless is confirmed, ex-Livermore personnel will occupy two of the four political posts in the NNSA’s senior leadership ranks.