Part I: Risk Management Experts Assess Estevez for Top BIS Position

Alan Estevez was nominated to be the next Undersecretary of the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) at the Department of Commerce, an important but little-known federal agency responsible for export control, treaty compliance, and leadership in strategic technology. Not a lawyer steeped in the statues of export controls, Estevez is considered an interesting choice for his defense background, the selection of which could signal greater emphasis on security concerns.

Notably Estevez won the National Security Medal for his efforts to transform military logistics for the 21st century. Consider this: During Desert Storm, the US military did not have an efficient way to track and locate containers. Hence the supplies in more than half of 40,000 containers went unused, some $2 billion in wasted resources. As Assistant Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Supply Chain Integration, Estevez studied how Wal-Mart used RFID to manage the flow of goods in and out of warehouses and developed the In-Transit Visibility network, which allows forces in the field to locate supplies in minutes rather than days. In his role, he managed some 60,000 vendors at DoD.

Leading professionals and observers of the field weighed in on his nomination. Chairman of the risk management firm The Providence Group, Dan Caprio, then a Commerce official charged with technology policy, worked with Estevez in an intra-agency collaboration and subsequent report on the use of RFID. He describes working with Estevez as “very positive”, calls Estevez “eminently qualified from the perspective of substance [and] knows his way around government”, and says he is a “solid person”, not a political appointee.

Another risk management expert, John Lash of Darkhorse Strategies, calls Estevez a pragmatic national security thinker, skilled in the complexities of trade, policy, and technology, and has the ability to work effectively across agencies, a critical role for the BIS post. He also says Estevez is a proven collaborator when it comes to the intersection of public and private sectors.

Stay tuned for a follow up post with observations from other experts on Estevez’s nomination and the Future of BIS. In the meantime, check out CTT’s backgrounder on his career and policy positions.