DoD’s two top research officials announce departure

The Defense Department’s top two scientists are stepping down from their positions effective July 10.

Michael Griffin, the undersecretary of Defense for research and engineering, and Lisa Porter, who holds the deputy R&E role, both have submitted their resignations, a DoD official confirmed Tuesday.

Griffin has been serving in the position since 2018, and is the first person to hold the revamped R&E undersecretary role after DoD split its undersecretary of acquisition, technology and logistics office into two positions.

Griffin’s role has been to expand innovation and experimentation within the department. He heads projects like directed energy, hypersonic weapons and space programs. He’s also in charge of the cutting edge Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the Missile Defense Agency.

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“During their tenures, Dr. Griffin and Dr. Porter advanced critical work on the department’s modernization priorities,” Defense Secretary Mark Esper said in a Wednesday statement. “They leave an office with a legacy of excellence in the research and development of technology that ensures American military advantage on land, at sea, in the air and in space. Mike and Lisa have my sincere thanks for their dedicated service to the department and the nation, and I wish them the very best as they enter this new chapter of their lives.”

Griffin headed NASA in the early 2000s.

Porter was the first director of the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Agency. She also worked as the former executive vice president of In-Q-Tel and was also the president of Teledyne Scientific & Imaging.

Inside Defense first reported Griffin and Porter’s resignations.

Griffin and Porter are part of a larger exodus of DoD officials from the Pentagon.

Last week, Elaine McCusker, who was the acting DoD comptroller, announced she will step down on June 26.

President Trump nominated McCusker for the permanent comptroller position last year, but revoked that nomination in March.

The nomination pull came after public reporting indicated she had pushed back against the White House’s attempt to withhold defense aid from Ukraine, a central issue in the president’s impeachment trial.

Two days after McCusker’s resignation, Kathryn Wheelbarger the acting assistant secretary for international security affairs  announced she’d be leaving DoD as well.