Senate-confirmed in April 2022, the Honorable Dr. William A. LaPlante serves as the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment (USD(A&S)). In this role, he is responsible to the Secretary of Defense for all matters pertaining to acquisition; contract administration; logistics and materiel readiness; installations and environment; operational energy; nuclear, chemical, and biological defense; the acquisition workforce; and the defense industrial base.
Prior to this appointment, Dr. LaPlante served as President and Chief Executive Officer of Draper Laboratory, a research and development company specializing in advanced technology solutions in national security, space exploration, health care, and energy. Previously, he was senior vice president and general manager at MITRE National Security, where he oversaw the operation of two federally funded research and development centers and the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology.
Dr. LaPlante served as the Senate-confirmed Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics from 2014 to 2017, where he aligned that Service’s $43 billion acquisition enterprise budget with the Air Force vision and strategy. During his tenure, he forged a path forward on critical Air Force acquisition programs such as the B-21 long range strike bomber, while realizing nearly $6 billion in “should-cost” savings in other programs. Prior to this position, Dr. LaPlante spent 26 years at Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL), ultimately leading the Global Engagement Department where he was responsible for all of APL’s work supporting offensive strike military capabilities. He also served as a member of the APL’s Executive Council.
Dr. LaPlante has been a member of several scientific boards and commissions focused on maintaining national security, including the U.S. Strategic Command Senior Advisory Group, Naval Research Advisory Committee, and Defense Science Board. He joined other national experts as a commissioner on the congressionally-mandated Section 809 Panel, which performed a comprehensive review of Department of Defense acquisition policies and provided improvement recommendations, many of which became law.
Dr. LaPlante holds a doctorate in mechanical engineering from the Catholic University of America, a master’s degree in applied physics from The Johns Hopkins University, and a bachelor’s degree in engineering physics from the University of Illinois.