Ashton Carter, former deputy defense secretary, will be nominated to succeed Chuck Hagel as defense secretary, CNN and the AP report.
According to the AP, White House officials insisted no final decision has been reached. A Republican senator told the AP Carter was chosen on Tuesday.
According to Foreign Policy's John Hudson, Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) spoke on Carter's potential nomination but had not been briefed on the issue:
Inhofe spox: "There was a misunderstanding.” Inhofe has not been notified that Carter is next SECDEF. He based his statement on CNN report
— John Hudson (@John_Hudson) December 2, 2014
When Carter resigned as deputy defense secretary in October 2013, Hagel said he had an "unparalleled knowledge of evey facet" of the U.S. defense system.
Robert Work, the current deputy defense secretary, has been mentioned as a potential replacement for Hagel. Former Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Michele Flournoy had also been mentioned as a potential nominee, but she took herself out of the running for the role in late November.
Hagel announced on Nov. 24 he would step down as secretary of defense, calling the job "the greatest privilege of my life." President Barack Obama said he and Hagel had determined it was an "appropriate time for him to complete his service."
Hagel will remain in office until his successor is confirmed by the Senate.
The AP reported earlier on the role of defense secretary:
Defense analyst Anthony Cordesman said that as Obama approaches the end of his presidency, the Cabinet post is "not particularly desirable" for anyone with broader political ambitions.
"It's very unlikely you will get political visibility or credit for being the secretary," said Cordesman, who works at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. "There are just too many problems and uncertainties."
Among them: questions about the effectiveness of Obama's military campaign against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, Russia's continued provocations in Ukraine, tensions between the White House and Defense Department over closing the Guantanamo Bay detention center, and concerns at the Pentagon with the impact of deep spending cuts.
This story has been updated to note no final decision has been made, according to the White House.