Top Pentagon Aide, Former Tech Executive Nominated as No. 2 Weapons Buyer

The White House has nominated Radha Iyengar Plumb to be deputy to William LaPlante, undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment. She has been serving as chief of staff to Kathleen H. Hicks, deputy secretary of defense, for the last 17 months.

Plumb’s experience includes leadership positions at Google and Facebook, economics work at the RAND Corp., stints at the Departments of Defense, Energy and the National Security Council, and academic research in health policy.

As director of research and insights for trust and safety at Google, Plumb “led the company’s cross-functional teams on business analytics, data science, and technical research,” the White House said in a press release.

“She previously served as the Global Head of Policy Analysis at Facebook where she focused on high risk/high harm safety and critical international security issues,” the release added. According to her Linked-in page, Plumb described her work at Facebook as leading “the teams that research content, social, and economic policy issues. This includes work on Facebook’s product policies as well as research on economic value and social impact.”

She held “senior staff positions on national security issues” at Defense, Energy and the NSC. At the Pentagon, she was chief of staff and policy advisor to the assistant secretary in the office of special operations/low-intensity conflict. For the NSC, she was director of defense personnel, readiness and partnerships.

Plumb taught at the London School of Economics and did postgraduate work at Harvard. She holds a Masters and Ph.D. in economics from Princeton and a B.S. from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

If confirmed, Plumb will join LaPlante not long after he arrived on the job—LaPlante, the former top acquisition executive for the Air Force from 2014-2017, was confirmed to his position by the Senate in April. Already, he has promised to take “deep dives” into efforts to modernize each leg of the nuclear triad.