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Senate Considers Norquist for DOD Deputy

July 24, 2019 | BY Terri Moon Cronk

The Pentagon's comptroller and chief financial officer faced the Senate Armed Services Committee in consideration of his nomination to serve as deputy secretary of defense.

David L. Norquist had performed the duties of the deputy secretary for several months until President Donald J. Trump formally nominated him yesterday for the Pentagon's No. 2 post.

Defense Department Comptroller and Chief Financial Officer David L. Norquist sits at a desk with two people in the background.
Norquist Testimony
David L. Norquist, the Defense Department's comptroller and chief financial officer, provides testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee on his nomination to be deputy secretary of defense in Washington, July 24, 2019.
Photo By: Lisa Ferdinando, DOD
VIRIN: 190724-D-BN624-0160Y

"We spend a lot of time talking about budgets, weapons systems, technology and doctrine," Norquist said at his confirmation hearing today. "But our most important asset is our people. When the rubber meets the road, it all comes down to the individual men and women serving this nation [and] their bravery, courage, professionalism, sense of duty and selflessness. Everything we do is about them, and ensuring they have what they need to prevail."

Norquist noted that he's had three positions at the Pentagon, and all of those jobs had a common thread: protecting the nation's security while safeguarding the taxpayer's money. "It is a profound responsibility, but I believe in this mission passionately," he said.

A man speaks from behind a podium.
Pentagon Briefing
David L. Norquist, performing the duties of the deputy defense secretary, speaks with members of the Joint Civilian Orientation Conference at the Pentagon, June 24, 2019.
Photo By: Army Sgt. Amber Smith
VIRIN: 190624-D-SV709-0095
Men seated at meeting table.
Deputy Defense Secretary
David L. Norquist, while performing the duties of the deputy secretary of defense, meets with Stephen Lovegrove, permanent secretary of the British Defense Ministry, at the Pentagon, June 4, 2019. Norquist, the Defense Department’s comptroller and chief financial officer, has been nominated to serve as deputy defense secretary.
Photo By: Army Sgt. Amber I. Smith, DOD
VIRIN: 190604-D-SV709-0053C

He reminded the committee that two years ago during his confirmation hearing to serve as comptroller, he pledged to do two things. 

First, after years of spending cuts mandated by sequestration had hurt military readiness and modernization, he promised he would work with the White House and Congress to support robust defense budgets that fully supported DOD's mission, he said. 

Second, Norquist said, he pledged that after 24 years, DOD would finally conduct a comprehensive financial statement audit. Over the last two years, he added, the administration has proposed and Congress has supported robust defense budgets.

Two men shake hands as one emerges from a car.
Pentagon Meeting
David L. Norquist, while performing the duties of the deputy secretary of defense, meets with Hassan Omar Mohamed, Djibouti’s defense minister, at the Pentagon, June 13, 2019. Norquist, the Defense Department’s comptroller and chief financial officer, has been nominated to serve as deputy defense secretary.
Photo By: Army Sgt. Amber I. Smith, DOD
VIRIN: 190613-D-SV709-0023C

DOD completed its first departmentwide, full-scope financial statement audit in November, Norquist said. "This is a start, but there's more work to be done," he told the Senate panel, noting that the deputy secretary's job is to support the defense secretary in implementing the secretary's vision. 

"[Defense Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper] … has made it clear that his vision is the National Defense Strategy, and that under his leadership, the department will remain laser-focused on implementing it," Norquist said. The NDS has three lines of effort: force lethality, enhancing partnerships and allies and reforming DOD.

Man and woman sit in chairs facing a seminar audience.
Fireside Chat
David L. Norquist, while performing the duties of the deputy secretary of defense, speaks during a fireside chat at the Center for a New American Security in Washington, May 30, 2019. Norquist, the Defense Department’s comptroller and chief financial officer, has been nominated to serve as deputy defense secretary.
Photo By: Army Sgt. Amber I. Smith, DOD
VIRIN: 190530-D-SV709-0011C

"These are challenging times, from the continuing threat of terrorism and the provocative actions of rogue states, such as Iran and North Korea, to the return of great-power competition," he said.

Norquist pointed out that DOD has two more warfighting domains than before — cyber and space — and this requires building capabilities, doctrine and new technologies.

"These dynamics create challenges and opportunities for us," he said.