Toss another Assistant Secretary on the Pyre

It appears the Navy’s cost overruns, contract failures, and general mismanagement have angered Senate gods enough to yank $910 million from the littoral combat ship program.

In a last-ditch effort to appease the gods, the Navy is trying something different:

Human sacrifice.

Seventy-two virgins? Better. One assistant secretary.

The Navy’s Assistant Secretary for Research, Development, and Acquisition Delores Etter submitted her resignation Oct. 5. (Note that this is the Friday before a federal holiday!) In a statement, Etter says she deliberated with her staff and family, and this move will allow her to resume teaching at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., in the spring.

In reality, Friday afternoon resignations usually mean someone has been asked to leave in the near future or has been fired. Going back to academia, OK, but heading to the electrical engineering department at the Naval Academy seems a bit sketchy. So does the fact that no private sector positions are beckoning. And “deliberating” with family and staff — deliberating? — also seems a bit contrived.

While Etter’s statement is probably factual, Inside the Headquarters and a number of Vegas bookies lay odds that she was forced out after a horrendous year in the acquisition department, specifically with the LCS “Who’s on First?” deal. And how does this help LCS? SECNAV might well be able to point to her (sudden) departure as a signal that the acquisition business is now right full rudder.

Will it be enough to appease the Senate gods and win back the $910 million for LCS and the families it feeds? We’ve got money on this one.

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