Deputy Defense Secretary David Norquist Named to 2020 Wash100 for Driving DoD’s Budget Management Initiatives

Jeff Brody
David Norquist

Executive Mosaic is honored to present David Norquist, deputy secretary of the Department of Defense, as an inductee into the 2020 edition of the Wash100 Award for leading the department’s initiatives to improve financial management for its components and service branches.

This marks Norquist’s second consecutive Wash100 Award. His previous win came as the result of his leadership and handling of the department’s agency wide audit, finances and transition to the cloud. His efforts continued towards those missions for the DoD.

Norquist was confirmed by the Senate and sworn in as the 34th deputy secretary of DoD in July 2019, a month after the president announced plans to nominate him for the post and six months after he started serving as acting deputy defense secretary.

Early last year, Norquist announced that DoD is developing a financial audit database under a pilot program, which he said aims to resolve issues cited by the DoD inspector general’s first ever audit issued in November 2018.

He added that the database is “critical for accountability, knowing who you have to work with and which organizations you may have to change out leadership or do training, and which types of challenges you’re facing.”

Norquist warned in May last year that Congress’ potential restrictions on DoD’s reprogramming authority for funding will pose “significant challenges” and obstruct efforts to address evolving needs.

“This is something where we need to really understand the consequences of doing it and being able to make sure the essential mission get[s] done, and we send the right signals inside the workforce about making sure that we’re able to put the right funding in the highest-priority areas,” he said at a Center for a New American Security event.

During his confirmation hearing, Norquist discussed plans to fill vacant leadership positions at the department and said he wants the Pentagon to advance the use of artificial intelligence, data analytics and other emerging technologies to implement the National Defense Strategy. He specifically mentioned the potential benefits of AI.

“Artificial Intelligence is different because the potential benefits are less clear; you know what you’re going to get with a hypersonic missile,” he said. “But artificial intelligence has the potential to change a lot about how we use [unmanned aerial vehicles] and other items. That puts an emphasis on analytical skills, researching and prototyping.”

Norquist has spearheaded efforts to advance financial management at the department. In August 2019,  he issued a memo informing component agencies and services of a zero-based assessment of all department-wide activities and functions as directed by Defense Secretary and fellow 2020 Wash100 Award recipient Mark Esper.

“The immediate goal of this review is to identify time, money, and manpower resources that can be reallocated to our highest priorities in support of the National Defense Strategy through the FY 2021-2025 Program and Budget Review, as well as adjustments to FY 2020 where feasible,” Norquist wrote in the memo.

Norquist expressed support to plans of merging the Defense Commissary Agency and three defense resale entities into a single entity. In a memo, he said he will decide between expanding an existing entity like DeCA and establishing a new agency responsible for overseeing defense resale facilities upon the enactment of relevant legislation.

“The department’s intent is to improve community services for our service members and their families, improve support to commanders and fulfill its fiduciary responsibility concerning appropriated and non-appropriated funds,” he wrote in the memo.

Norquist is a three-decade federal financial management professional who previously served as chief financial officer at the Department of Homeland Security and as a partner at accounting firm Kearney and Co.

Executive Mosaic congratulates David Norquist for his 2020 Wash100 Award selection.

About The Wash100

The Wash100 Award, now in its seventh year, recognizes the most influential executives in the GovCon industry as selected by the Executive Mosaic team in tandem with online nominations from the GovCon community. Representing the best of the private and public sector, the winners demonstrate superior leadership, innovation, reliability, achievement and vision.

Visit the Wash100 site to learn about the other 99 winners of the 2020 Wash100 Award. On the site, you can submit your 10 votes for the GovCon executives of consequence that you believe will have the most significant impact in 2020.

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