WASHINGTON, Dec 3 (Reuters) - Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has decided to name the former head of the Pentagon office for cost assessments as acting deputy secretary of defense while the search continues for a replacement for departing Deputy Secretary Ashton Carter, a senior defense official said on Tuesday.
Hagel will formally name Christine Fox, the former director of the Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation office, as acting deputy defense secretary on Tuesday, the official said. Upon assumption of her duties, she will become the highest-ranking woman to serve in the Defense Department, he said.
As head of CAPE, Fox earlier this year led Hagel's Strategic Choices and Management Review to look at the impact of different budget cuts on the department.
Because of that experience and her five years at CAPE, she understands the issues facing the department as it works to cut nearly $1 trillion in projected spending over the next decade, said the defense official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
"Simply put, no one knows the issues as well as Christine and in this new role she will hit the ground running like no one else can," the official said.
Fox, who was the inspiration for the lead female character in the movie "Top Gun," left the Pentagon earlier this year after finishing Hagel's strategic review and has been working since then as a senior adviser to Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, the official said.
The White House and Pentagon are continuing to evaluate candidates as a permanent replacement for Carter, whose final day is Thursday, the official said. Fox has indicated she is not interested in assuming the job permanently, the official said. (Reporting by David Alexander; Editing by Bill Trott)