William A LaPlante PH D

Senior Vice President and General Manager National Security Sector
Space Warfighting Industry Forum

William A. LaPlante is senior vice president and general manager for MITRE National Security. LaPlante is accountable for increasing MITRE’s strategic value across all the corporation’s work encompassing national security. In this role, he oversees operation of two federally funded research and development centers (FFRDCs)—the National Security Engineering Center (NSEC), supporting the U.S. Department of Defense and the Intelligence Community, and the National Cybersecurity FFRDC (NCF), and  the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology.  Prior to assuming his current role, LaPlante served as vice president of the Intelligence Portfolio in MITRE NSEC, leading initiatives in support of the nation’s Intelligence Community. 

 LaPlante’s most recent government experience concluded in 2015 as the senate confirmed assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition. During three years in that position, LaPlante brought the $43 billion Air Force acquisition enterprise budget into alignment with the Air Force vision and strategy. Under his leadership, the Air Force reaped nearly $6 billion in “should-cost” savings—the investment of these savings resulted in greater capability for our nation’s warfighters as well as initiated next generation of the nation’s weapons systems such as the B-21 Bomber. In recognition of his outstanding performance, the Air Force Association awarded LaPlante the W. Stuart Symington Award for the most significant contribution by a civilian in the field of national defense. The Air Force bestowed on him its Medal for Exceptional Civilian Service, the highest honor it bestows on a civilian employee. Finally the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Security Studies Program presented him with the General James Doolittle Award, in recognition of his contributions to U.S. air power.

 Prior to entering public service in 2013, he was MITRE’s Missile Defense portfolio director. Before joining MITRE, he was the department head for Global Engagement at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL). In that role, he was responsible for all of APL’s work supporting offensive military capabilities. He was also a member of the APL Executive Council. 

Outside of his roles with MITRE and the Department of the Air Force, LaPlante has served on numerous boards and commissions critical to the national security and well-being of the United States. LaPlante has testified numerous times to the Congress in his various roles as the leader of Air Force Acquisition, Member of the Section 809 Commission, and as a subject matter expert

In 2010, LaPlante was appointed to the Defense Science Board (DSB), since then being a chair and/or member of over twenty studies and task forces, including topics such as Military Adaptability (co-chair), software development and acquisition (Co-chair), 5G, cyber resiliency, Gaming (co-chair), missile defense, contractor logistics, among others.

From 2016-2019, LaPlante served as a Commissioner with other national experts on the Congressionally mandated Section 809 Panel, which for the first time in twenty - five years did a comprehensive review of DoD acquisition policies and recommended improvements to Congress to increase efficiency and effectiveness in the Defense Acquisition enterprise. Many of the Commission’s recommendations are now in law. 

Most recently, LaPlante was elected to the Lightweight Innovations for Tomorrow (LIFT) board of directors and is a member of their compensation committee. An industry led, government funded not-for-profit consortium, LIFT’s purpose is to accelerate cutting edge manufacturing techniques and technologies into the US industrial supply chain.  In addition to his work with LIFT, LaPlante also advises the government and commercial entities in the space technology domain.

LaPlante holds a bachelor’s degree in engineering physics from the University of Illinois, a master’s degree in applied physics from Johns Hopkins University, and a doctorate in mechanical engineering from the Catholic University of America. For over fifteen years, he was also an adjunct lecturer in modern control theory and systems at the Catholic University of America.