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Top Navy Civilian in Charge of Bases, Housing Resigns

The Honorable Mrs. Phyllis L. Bayer, Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Energy, Installations and Environment, receives a brief on installation energy initiative during her visit to Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, on April 24, 2018. US Marine Corps Photo

Phyllis Bayer, the assistant secretary of the Navy for energy, installations and environment, submitted her resignation on Friday, stating she intends to leave government service to pursue other opportunities.

“While Navy leadership has been recently evaluating options with this portfolio due to competing priorities, the Secretary of the Navy remains fully committed to the role and responsibilities. The Department has begun an active search for an equally qualified candidate to become the next ASN EI&E,” reads a Navy release announcing Bayer’s resignation.

Bayer departs after just more than a year on the job, at a time when Congress has increased its scrutiny of the status of housing and other facilities on military bases. Lawmakers became concerned about the status of on-base housing following reports of active duty personnel from all branches living in base housing with chronic repair and maintenance issues.

Military construction projects in Bayer’s portfolio are also at risk of being canceled or postponed to fund border wall construction, as part of President Donald Trump’s recent emergency declaration. Up to $3.6 billion could be diverted from military construction projects to pay for the wall, according to the White House.

Phyllis L. Bayer, center, assistant secretary of the Navy for energy, installations and the environment, and Brig. Gen. Benjamin T. Watson, right, commanding general, Marine Corps Installations East-Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune tour privatized military housing with spouses during a visit to Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, Feb. 15, 2019. US Marine Corps photo

The Pentagon is still evaluating what projects to curtail to free up funds for the proposed border wall, Bayer said during a Feb. 27 hearing before the House Appropriations Committee on military construction. At Camp Lejeune, repairing facilities damaged by Hurricane Florence last fall could cost up to $3.5 billion, according to Marine Corps estimates.

“I lack any definitive guidance to understand the full potential impacts of how this would play out,” Bayer said during the hearing.

Bayer is a 1986 graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi, and started her federal government career working for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers right out of college, she said during her Senate confirmation hearing last year. Before becoming the assistant secretary in for EI&E, Bayer served as the chief of staff for the undersecretary of Defense for personnel and readiness.

The following is the complete March 8, 2019, statement from the Navy.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF THE NAVY RESIGNS

WASHINGTON (NNS) – The Assistant Secretary of the Navy (ASN) for Energy, Installations & Environment (EI&E), Phyllis L. Bayer, has submitted her resignation as she will retire from government and pursue other opportunities.

The Department of the Navy applauds her service and is grateful for her extraordinary efforts this past year.

While Navy leadership has been recently evaluating options with this portfolio due to competing priorities, the Secretary of the Navy remains fully committed to the role and responsibilities. The Department has begun an active search for an equally qualified candidate to become the next ASN EI&E.