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Former Congressional National Security Staffer to Lead POGO’s Military Reform Project

Mandy Smithberger

Mandy Smithberger, the Director of the Straus Military Reform Project

Mandy Smithberger, a former national security policy adviser to U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), has joined the Project On Government Oversight where she will direct the Straus Military Reform Project.

While serving on Speier’s staff, Smithberger worked on passing key provisions of the Military Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act into law, which expands protections by increasing the level of Inspector General review for complaints, requiring timely action on findings of reprisal, and increasing the time whistleblowers have to report reprisals.

She also worked on an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that required closer scrutiny of the Littoral Combat Ship program’s deficiencies, including limiting the Navy to purchasing only the number of mission modules required for operational testing.

Smithberger, who started her career at POGO as an intern before joining the staff as a national security investigator, succeeds Winslow Wheeler as the director of POGO’s Straus Military Reform Project and Center for Defense Information (CDI).

”Mandy has a deep understanding of the Pentagon budget and brings the kind of expertise to POGO that will make her a leading voice for military reform,” POGO Executive Director Danielle Brian said. “She is the perfect person to continue Winslow Wheeler’s legacy of calling out the Pentagon and Congress for spending taxpayer money on shortsighted, billion-dollar programs that are more about feeding the military industrial complex than providing our troops combat capability.”

Wheeler, who assisted in the search process for his successor, added: “In addition to a high level of intellect and energy, Mandy brings two essential ingredients to the Straus Military Reform Project at POGO: First, a fundamental understanding of what military reform is and is not—separating the real from the cosmetic—and second, a strong nose for and repellent reaction to the decay that has beset our shrinking, aging, less trained armed forces for decades at very high and frequently even increasing budget levels, especially during that last two presidencies."

Smithberger, who has a Masters in Strategic Studies and International Economics from Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies, also served as an analyst at the Defense Intelligence Agency and U.S. Central Command.

“POGO and CDI under Winslow Wheeler have an inspiring legacy of challenging wasteful Pentagon programs on behalf of our military and taxpayers,” Smithberger said. “I’m thrilled to return to enhance accountability and provoke reforms that will strengthen our national security.”

Topics: National Security

Related Content: Straus Military Reform Project, Defense

Authors: Joe Newman

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