The White House on Sept. 2 announced it intended to nominate the Director of Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E) to be the next Navy acquisition chief.

Nickolas Guertin, head of DOT&E, the Pentagon’s top weapons tester, is being nominated as Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development and Acquisition (ASN-RDA), the Navy’s top acquisition official.

Guertin has served as head of DOT&E within the Office of the Secretary of Defense since December 2021. The office serves as the senior adviser to the Secretary of Defense on operational and live fire testing and evaluation of DoD weapon systems.

Guertin has served in the defense industry and government for four decades. His experience includes ship construction and maintenance; and development and testing of weapons, sensors and combat management products. From 2011 to 2016 he served in the office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development, Test and Evaluation (DASN RDT&E).

Before he led DOT&E, Guertin performed applied research for the government and academic sectors in “software-reliant and cyber-physical systems” at Carnegie Mellon University’s Software Engineering Institute, according to his DoD biography.

“Over his career, he has been in leadership roles of organizational transformation, improving competition, application of modular open system approaches, as well as prototyping and experimentation,” the White House said in a statement.

If confirmed, Geurtin will be the first permanent ASN-RDA since James Geurts served through the end of the Trump administration. 

Early in the Biden administration, Geurts’ former deputy, civil servant Frederick Stefany, served as acting ASN-RDA. However, in May the Navy replaced Stefany with Tommy Ross, who was chief of staff to the Secretary of the Navy. Ross currently serves as Performing the Duties of Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development and Acquisition with Stefany’s role as Principal Civilian Deputy to ASN-RDA.

Stefany still holds some responsibilities of acting ASN-RDA, notably testifying before Congress for the office.