WASHINGTON — President Biden has nominated William LaPlante to be the Defense Department’s top procurement official, the White House announced Nov. 30.

LaPlante, if confirmed by the Senate, will fill the post of undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment, which has been vacant since Ellen Lord stepped down Jan. 20.

Biden in April tapped the director of the Defense Innovation Unit Michael Brown to run DoD acquisitions but Brown withdrew his nomination in July.

LaPlante is currently president and chief executive officer of Draper Laboratory, a nonprofit research and development firm, and was previously senior vice president of MITRE National Security Sector.

During the Obama administration, LaPlante served as assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition, technology and logistics from 2014–2017.

As head of Air Force acquisitions, LaPlante was a proponent of greater use of commercial technologies in military programs and of increased competition in the industry. He was particularly concerned about DoD’s slow pace of innovation in areas like software and information technologies. 

Sandra Erwin writes about military space programs, policy, technology and the industry that supports this sector. She has covered the military, the Pentagon, Congress and the defense industry for nearly two decades as editor of NDIA’s National Defense...