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Air Force acquisition lead moves to MITRE

Dr. William A. LaPlante, Assistant Secretary of the Air Force (Acquisition)

Dr. William A. LaPlante, the assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition

WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- The Air Force announced Nov. 18 that Dr. William A. LaPlante, the assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition, is transitioning from government service to a senior position at the MITRE Corporation, a not-for-profit organization that operates federally funded research and development centers (FFRDCs).

Dr. LaPlante will also resume his prior participation in the Defense Science Board, where he will advise top Department of Defense leadership on critical scientific and technological topics related to the effectiveness of the nation’s military forces.

During his three years with the Air Force, Dr. LaPlante led the $43 billion per year Air Force acquisition enterprise, bringing it into alignment with the greater Air Force vision and strategy. Under his leadership and through his acquisition initiatives, the Air Force reaped nearly $6 billion in “Should-Cost” savings -- the investment of these savings resulted in greater warfighting capability and additional weapons for our nation’s warfighters.

"Dr. LaPlante has been a great partner over the last 3 years! His leadership has been a huge strength of our Air Force as he focused acquisition activities on increased warfighting capability at an affordable cost," said Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. Mark A. Welsh III.

Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James added, “His ‘Should-Cost’ savings initiatives were a cornerstone of my priority for making every dollar count.”

Dr. LaPlante’s initiatives and leadership brought about positive change not only within the Air Force, but at the DOD level as well.

“Bill has been a true leader for Air Force acquisition and a great contributor to the department's successful efforts to improve the performance of all defense acquisition,” said Frank Kendall, the undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics. “During his tenure, I have worked with Bill to implement both Air Force and DOD acquisition improvement initiatives on many fronts. His efforts have saved billions of dollars, brought program risks and costs under control, and enhanced the professionalism of the Air Force acquisition team.”

Dr. LaPlante shaped the future of Air Force acquisition with his strategy and approach to the procurement of the Long Range Strike Bomber (LRS-B) -- a weapon system that will ensure the decisive advantage the United States needs across the full spectrum of military conflict for decades to come. While he originally intended to depart earlier this year, Dr. LaPlante extended his service through the award of the LRS-B contract.

“This has been the best job I’ve ever had,” Dr. LaPlante said. “It’s been an honor, but now I need to honor a long planned commitment I made to my family before I entered government service.”

Dr. LaPlante’s hallmarks of transparency and strategic agility opened the door for a new phase of unprecedented innovation in both the way the Air Force develops weapon systems and the flexibility in which it employs them. Secretary James noted, “Bill established an unparalleled degree of transparency on acquisition activities across not only the United States Air Force and the Department of Defense, but also more importantly with Congress and our industry partners.”

Dr. LaPlante put the Air Force on a firm foundation to handle future threats via the open and adaptable systems he architected, the culture he inculcated in the acquisition community, and the way in which he fostered and shaped industry partnerships. General Welsh stated, "Our Air Force is better prepared because of Bill LaPlante's service. I know I speak for every Air Force uniformed leader when I say that we will miss him and will always be proud to call him an Airman."

Dr. LaPlante encouraged program managers to build technical expertise into their teams so as to better posture themselves to understand and address technical risk and the associated cost and schedule challenges those risks may cause, Mr. Kendall said.

"Bill's emphasis on ‘Owning the Technical Baseline’ has brought a strong, clear focus to Air Force Program Management that will pay dividends for years to come. His contributions are many and his departure is a great loss to the Air Force and the Department."

Dr. LaPlante was recognized earlier this year by the Air Force Association with the W. Stuart Symington Award for the most significant contribution by a civilian in the field of national defense.

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