Acting Deputy Defense Secretary David Norquist easily sailed through his Senate Armed Services Committee confirmation hearing Wednesday for his White House nomination to be permanently appointed to the role, CQ reported.
Norquist, who was confirmed as DOD’s comptroller in 2017 and has been serving in an acting capacity as the Pentagon’s second-in-succession since January, received a warm reception from lawmakers with commenting they looked forward to voting for him.
During the hearing Norquist noted that he’s held three roles at DOD and each has emphasized a common theme of protecting the nation’s security while safeguarding the taxpayer’s money, DOD said in a press release.
“It is a profound responsibility, but I believe in this mission passionately,” he said.
The SASC, moving quickly to fill a vacuum of permanent DOD leadership, hope to give his nomination a possible floor vote by the end of the week before the upcoming congressional August recess.
On Tuesday the Senate quickly filled the Pentagon’s top role in confirming Defense Secretary Dr. Mark Esper as DOD’s permanent chief.
Norquist also emphasized that Esper was focused on quickly building his team, and that top officials discussed the topic regularly, CQ reported.
“There are still 18 vacant civilian positions that require action,” Committee Chairman James Inhofe (R-Okla.) emphasized during the hearing.
“There is a plan. There’s a list of the positions, and there’s a list of the candidates and where they are in the process of either getting their background investigation, the clearance, the vetting,” Norquist told lawmakers.
In 2018 Norquist oversaw the Pentagon’s first complete audit as DOD’s comptroller and while it failed, it received bipartisan praise toward tracking the billions annually flowing through the Pentagon.
“Please don’t lose focus on the audit,” said Sen. Angus King, (I-Maine). “It would be too easy to let it slide.”
During the hearing Norquist offered assurance he would not ignore future audits, noting that as deputy defense secretary he would be a key user of the insights gained from the audit.
DOD photo by Lisa Ferdinando