The civilian head of the Department of the Navy’s installations has been tapped to fill in as the second-highest civilian in the department, according to a Monday announcement.
Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Energy, Installations & Environment Meredith Berger will perform the duties of the Under Secretary of the Navy starting on Wednesday, replacing James “Hondo” Geurts, who had been performing the role since February.
Berger is the former deputy chief of staff for President Obama’s Navy Secretary, Ray Mabus, and has held positions in the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Defense. She is one of the few confirmed DoN political appointees, with most of the assistant Navy secretary positions filled in with temporary personnel. She was sworn in as the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Energy, Installations & Environment on Aug. 5.
She was called upon to swear Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro in a swiftly assembled ceremony, as Berger was one of the few officials that could give him the oath of office on Aug. 10 at short notice, several defense officials confirmed to USNI News.
News of Berger filling in the role follows Geurts’ announcement earlier this month, via a hand-written note posted on social media, that he would retire from government. Geurts went from the acquisition officer at U.S. Special Operations Command to the assistant secretary of the Navy for research, development and acquisition in 2017.
“The Department of the Navy has been strengthened by the wisdom and leadership generated by Mr. Geurts,” Del Toro said in a statement. “I value his commitment to our personnel in uniform, his service to our great nation and his teamwork and communication amongst the personnel in this building. I know that Ms. Berger will carry on this strong tradition of collaboration as she performs the duties of the Under Secretary of the Navy.”
Geurts is set to retire on Aug. 28.
The announcement comes as the department is now in the midst of planning for the Navy and Marine Corps Fiscal Year 2023 budget submission, a global posture review and a looming force structure assessment that will determine the lay down of the future fleet.