Scope of the Position:

The Director of Operational Test and Evaluation (OT&E) is an acting senior advisor to the Secretary of Defense, serving as an expert on all operational procedures, live fire tests of DoD weapons systems, and over 300 programs and systems. The position oversees and implements all OT&E policy and reviews test results for every major DoD acquisition program. This role is crucial to ensuring the safety and effectiveness of systems and equipment in combat use. In addition to overseeing the operational aspects of the Department, the Director also manages OT&E's budgetary and financial matters. The position serves as the public face of OT&E, reporting to Congress and other DoD agencies on the division's progress and testing evaluations.

Illustrative Management Challenges:

Disputes over Delegated Responsibilities

In 2015, the Government Accountability Office reported a series of "significant disputes" between the OT&E Director and acquisition programming.1 According to the report, "DOT&E and acquisition programs may disagree about what is needed to adequately demonstrate operational capability, which sometimes may affect programs' cost or schedule."

F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Program

In August 2016, a memo from incumbent OT&E Director Michael Gilmore indicated that the highly criticized F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, for which the Pentagon is paying nearly $400 billion, might never be ready for combat. The memo highlighted concerns over the F-35's software, which still requires fixes in at least 15 different areas.2 This memo has aroused concern among top Pentagon officials, including the current Under Secretary for Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics.3 The next administration's OT&E Director will inherit a highly controversial program that seems to be pitting top Pentagon officials against one another.


      1DOD Operational Testing: Oversight Has Resulted in Few Significant Disputes and Limited Program Cost and Schedule Increases;; June 2, 2016.
      2F-35 pilot disputes leaked DoD memo that claims the F-35 may never be combat ready;; September 20, 2016.
      3Kendall Spells out F-35 Concerns for Next US Administration;; September 7, 2016.

Current Incumbent:

J. Michael Gilmore (2009-present): Gilmore previously worked as the Assistant Director for National Security at the Congressional Budget Office. Prior to this position, Gilmore served as the Deputy Director of General Purpose Programs with the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Program Analysis and Evaluation, and he was also the Division Director of Operations Analysis and Procurement Planning at DoD. Gilmore began his career at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, where he focused on magnetic fusion energy. He holds a BS in Physics and an MS and PhD in nuclear engineering.

Previous Deputy Secretaries:

David W. Duma (Acting) (2009 and 2005-2006): Prior to his appointment as Acting Director, Duma served in DoD as Principal Deputy Director of Operational Test and Evaluation. Before this post, Duma served 30 years in the U.S. Navy, where he worked as Director of Test and Evaluation Warfare Systems for the Chief of Naval Operations. He also served as Deputy Commander, Submarine Squadron 10, and commanded the nuclear power submarine USS Scamp. Duma earned a BS in nuclear engineering and an MS in national security and strategic studies in management.

Charles D. McQueary (2006-2009): McQueary is a Principal for the Command Consulting Group. Prior to his time as Director, he served as Under Secretary for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. McQueary also served as the President of General Dynamics Advanced Technology Systems. He spent over 20 years with AT&T Bell Laboratories in various capacities, including President and Vice President of several business divisions. McQueary holds a BS and an MS in mechanical engineering and a PhD in engineering mechanics.

Thomas P. Christie (2001-2005): Preceding his appointment as Director, Christie served over 30 years with DoD in various positions, including Director of Tactical Air Division in the Office of the Under Secretary and Deputy Secretary of Defense for General Purpose Programs. Christie also served as Director of the Operational Evaluation Division at the Institute for Defense Analyses, a research and development center funded by the federal government. Earlier in his career, Christie worked in several positions for the U.S. Air Force. He holds a bachelor's degree in mathematics and a master's degree in applied mathematics.

Philip E. Coyle III (1994-2001): Coyle currently serves as an independent defense consultant and Senior Advisor to the President of the Center for Defense Information. He previously spent over 30 years working at the Lawrence Livermore Laboratory and served as Laboratory Associate Director and Deputy to the Laboratory Director. During the Carter Administration, Coyle joined the Department of Energy as the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Defense Programs. He holds an MS in mechanical engineering.