The Pentagon appointed Lisa Gordon-Hagerty, until recently the administrator of the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), to the Defense Policy Board Wednesday, potentially giving DoE’s former nuclear-weapons boss an official line of communication to the Joe Biden administration.
The board, a Federal Advisory Committee first chartered by the Department of Defense in 1985, meets around four times a year, or as needed, to provide advice for the secretary of defense through the undersecretary of defense for policy. Members serve one- to four-year terms that must be renewed annually, according to the board’s latest two-year charter, which the Pentagon renewed in 2019.
Just after the presidential election on Nov. 3, Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette demanded that Gordon-Hagerty resign after two years, eight months and 22 days leading the semi-autonomous NNSA, which runs DoE’s civilian nuclear weapons programs.
The two senior DoE officials had feuded all year over the size of the NNSA’s budget for 2021 and beyond, with the White House eventually agreeing with Gordon-Hagerty — over Brouillette’s objections — that the weapons agency needed about $20 billion for the fiscal year that began Oct. 1.
Gordon-Hagerty was the shortest-tenured of all NNSA administrators except one, and only the second NNSA administrator in the position’s 20-year history who did not serve under two presidents.
In addition, two of the last three NNSA administrators, retired Gen. Frank Klotz and Thomas D’Agostino, stayed on at DoE after presidential transitions.
The Biden administrator has not yet said who it will nominate as Secretary of Energy, much less who it might nominate to fill the undersecretary-level position of NNSA administrator. The Trump administration did not officially nominate Gordon-Hagerty until about a year into Trump’s term.
Meanwhile, William Bookless remains acting NNSA administrator. Bookless, a longtime Lawrence Livermore hand with policy experience at other DoE sites and headquarters, became NNSA’s principal deputy administrator in 2019.