Biden Expected to Tap Alan Estevez to Lead BIS

News outlets report today that President Joe Biden will nominate Alan Estevez to lead the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS). This is a critical and timely appointment as U.S.-China tensions continue to escalate.

Mr. Estevez—who served as U.S. Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics and as the DoD representative to the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS)—brings more than three decades of experience in defense technology procurement and supply chain security.

That expertise provides an ideal background to head the agency charged with protecting U.S. strategic technological advantages.

President Biden’s nomination signals the Administration’s commitment to upholding the United States’ strategic security and suggests the President will direct the BIS Undersecretary to take bold action where necessary—including use of export controls and U.S. Entity List designations.

However, because Mr. Estevez has little public record on China’s Military-Civil Fusion strategy, the Senate Banking Committee—which will oversee his confirmation—must ask direct questions to understand his stance on the Chinese government’s threat.

“We know very little on Mr. Estevez or his positions,” Dr. Layton noted during a panel discussion today, How Should BIS Evolve to Ensure the U.S. Leads in Critical Technologies. The event featured four former BIS undersecretaries—William Reinsch (President Clinton), Mario Mancuso (President George W. Bush), Eric Hirschhorn (President Obama) and Cordell Hull (President Trump).

“Thus far, based on paper, it’s encouraging that someone of [Mr. Estevez’s] background—it seems like he would be [confirmed],” Mr. Mancuso said. “His experience at the Department of Defense, specifically his policy experience as opposed to traditional compliance experience… especially in this environment is fundamentally different.”