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​Air Force Secretary for Acquisition William LaPlante. USAF photo.

​—John A. Tirpak

Nov. 19, 2015: William LaPlante, assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition, is resigning his post to return to the MITRE Corp., where he will take up a “senior position,” the Air Force announced Wednesday. He will also go back to being a member of the Defense Science Board.

USAF officials said the transition will likely take place by the end of November, and until a successor can be named, Lt. Gen. Arnold Bunch, LaPlante’s military deputy, as well as Principal Deputy Richard Lombardi, a member of the SES, will fill in. Some of LaPlante’s statutory duties may also have to be performed by Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James, as well.

LaPlante has been in the job for three years, during which he pushed “should cost” initiatives that have saved the service “nearly $6 billion.” The savings were then put back into procurement accounts to buy more equipment, said the Air Force.

Pentagon acquisition, technology, and logistics chief Frank Kendall, in a press statement, credited LaPlante with having “brought program risks and costs under control, and enhanced the professionalism of the Air Force team.”

According to the release, LaPlante had “intended to depart earlier this year” but “extended his service through the award of the LRS-B [Long-Range Strike Bomber] contract.” LaPlante was quoted as saying that though “this has been the best job I’ve ever had,” he is honoring “a long-planned commitment I made to my family before I entered government service.”

James said LaPlante established “an unparalleled degree of transparency on acquisition activities” not only across USAF and the Pentagon but “also, more importantly, with Congress and our industry partners.”

LaPlante championed the Air Force owning the technical baseline for new systems, so it could complete system upgrades through use of open architectures. Kendall said that “brought a strong, clear focus” to USAF program management that will “pay dividends for years to come.”

LaPlante shaped the LRS-B competition and laid the groundwork for future competitions on the Joint Stars Recapitalization and T-X trainer.

He received AFA’s W. Stuart Symington Award in September for “the most significant contribution by a civilian in the field of national defense.”

For more on LaPlante’s initiatives, see Buying the Future from the September issue of Air Force Magazine.