Michael Kratsios, the U.S. Chief Technology Officer, has been appointed acting Undersecretary of Defense for research and engineering. He replaces Mike Griffin, who along with his deputy Lis Porter, stepped down last week. Kratsios will retain his CTO job in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.
“In seeking to fill this position we wanted someone with experience in identifying and developing new technologies and working closely with a wide range of industry partners. We think Michael is the right person for this job and we are excited to have him on the team,” said Defense Secretary Mark Esper in a statement.
Kratsios is a strong advocate for industry participation in U.S. research and development activities broadly and will now be in a position to influence DoD priorities and spending on emerging technologies such as quantum computing, AI, and 5G wireless technology. The Defense Department has the largest research and development budget in the federal government and Kratsios will oversee the Missile Defense Agency, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the Defense Innovation Unit, Space Development Agency and the DoD Laboratory enterprise.
As noted in article on GeekWire, “It’s unusual for one official to hold jobs at the Office of Science and Technology Policy as well as in a different corner of the federal government — but not unprecedented: OSTP Director Kelvin Droegemeier filled in as acting director of the National Science Foundation for more than two months earlier this year while waiting for the Senate to confirm Trump’s nominee.”
Kratsios has been a visible player in White House technology policy, championing its AI and Quantum initiatives. He was reportedly influential in the White House’s efforts to assembly and deploy the COVID-19 High Performance Computing Consortium.
According to DefenseNews, Griffin and Porter have officially started a new company, Logiq, Inc. based in VA. “Kratsios comes from a different background than Griffin and Porter, who each had long histories of government experience. Kratsios formerly serviced as chief of staff to Peter Thiel, the tech investor who founded Palantir and made major funding contributions to President Donald Trump’s campaign. Kratsios joined the administration in early 2017 as a technology adviser to the president. He was confirmed as CTO in August 2019,” reported DefenseNews.