FY24 Defense Budget: Impact on National Security

NSI and AWS hosted a range of experts on the priorities laid out in the Biden Administration’s FY24 Defense Budget. What are they key national security programs and priorities to receive funding? Does this budget meet the challenges posed by rising adversaries? What will the impact be on U.S. national security?

This event was held under Chatham House rules and was a widely attended event.

About Our Speakers


  • Heather Hopkins, NSI Fellow (Moderator)
  • Adrienne Ramsay, Former Professional Staff Member for the House Appropriations Committee, Department of Defense and the Intelligence Community accounts
  • Thomas Harker, Former U.S. Acting Secretary of the Navy
  • Mike Duffey, Former Associate Director of National Security Programs at the Office of Management and Budget


Heather Hopkins (Moderator) is a senior leader in the private sector and U.S. government over a 20-year career in Washington, D.C. and overseas, with extensive experience in national security. She has successfully managed high-profile offices and led teams at the White House, the Departments of Defense and State, in war zones and on Capitol Hill. She advises decision makers and leaders at the c-suite level on best practices and strategies to achieve their priorities and advocate for their objectives. She is known as a strategic partner, problem solver, for building bridges, influencing outcomes, building trust, and providing valued counsel.

Ms. Hopkins recently completed a three-year tour at the Pentagon as a Highly Qualified Expert (HQE), where she held three different, senior roles at the U.S. Army Headquarters and at the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD). She was the Secretary of the Army’s Chief of Staff and Senior Adviser where she implemented his guidance to run and manage the 1.1M person organization. Next, she worked for the Deputy Secretary of Defense, who is the COO of the $700B enterprise. She helped the Deputy manage policy issues on personnel, health, and readiness to ensure the U.S. military is ready to fight and win the nation’s wars. She supported him as the DOD COVID Task Force leader. Finally, she established a new office at the Pentagon for Intergovernmental Affaris to synchronize and coordinate the DOD’s interactions with governors, mayors and other state and local officials.

Ms. Hopkins previously was Vice President for government relations at the privately held aerospace and defense company, Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC). She managed their business leaders’ engagements with the executive and legislative branches and grew their communications and branding efforts. Prior to joining SNC, she was with BAE Systems, Inc. working with Capitol Hill on a variety of Army, Navy, and intelligence issues and programs.

Ms. Hopkins’ other roles have focused on government relations and strategic communications. She served at the White House, for George W. Bush, on the National Security Council as a Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Legislative Affairs. There she was the principal point of contact to Congress on national security, foreign affairs, and defense and intelligence issues. In the early years of the Iraq War, Ms. Hopkins served two tours there with the State Department. She was the Senior Adviser for communication at U.S. Embassy Baghdad and ran protocol at the Coalition Provisional Authority managing all major visits. She worked in legislative affairs at both the Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development. Prior to serving in the Executive Branch, Ms. Hopkins was on Capitol Hill with the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Newt Gingrich.

Ms. Hopkins is currently with Deloitte Consulting, as a specialist in their Defense, Security and Justice sector. There she provides expertise in human capital, strategic communication, and organization transformation to their government clients.

Ms. Hopkins holds two Master’s degrees from the University of Oklahoma and a Bachelor’s degree from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. She resides in the Washington, D.C. area.


Adrienne Ramsay is the founder and managing partner of Delphi Strategies. She advises entrepreneurs and Fortune 500 Aerospace and Defense companies, helping teams align resources and technologies to meet customer mission and ROI goals.

Previously she was a Professional Staff Member for the House Appropriations Committee, where she provided oversight for the Department of Defense and the Intelligence Community accounts. She has also been a Professional Staff Member on the House of Representatives Armed Services Committee, the Office of Management and Budget, the Congressional Budget Office, and a Brookings Institute Fellow in Senator Patty Murray’s office. Adrienne began her career in the private sector as a design engineer and program manager at Raytheon, TRW, and Booz Allen Hamilton. Adrienne’s career has provided her with strong personal relationships throughout Congress, various federal agencies, and industry.

Ms. Ramsay earned her Master of Science in Physics from Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA, and a Bachelor of Science in Physics and Mathematics from St. Lawrence University, Canton, NY.\

SECNAV Harker official portrait

Tom Harker has 30 years of public and private sector experience in Defense and Homeland Security, most recently serving as the acting Secretary of the Navy in 2021, acting UnderSecretary of Defense Comptroller in 2020, and Senate confirmed ASN FM&C from 2018-2021. In these roles, he was responsible for the day-to-day business operations of the Department of the Navy, developing and executing the DOD budget, and overseeing efforts to reform the military’s financial processes and business systems.

Tom Harker graduated from the University of California Berkeley in 1990 and received an MBA from the University of Miami in 2000. A 20-year veteran of the U.S. Coast Guard, his career was marked by operational success including multi-ton drug seizures on the high seas. Ashore, he was assigned positions of increasing responsibility in budget, acquisition, internal controls, audit readiness and financial reporting. His leadership of the Coast Guard audit readiness and internal control program contributed to the Department of Homeland Security moving from 10 successive disclaimers to a clean audit opinion. Prior to leaving active duty, Harker served at Office of Management and Budget (OMB) where he led the Campaign to Cut Waste, updated OMB Circular A-136 and drafted government-wide financial policy.

Subsequently, Harker served as an auditor and consultant at a large public accounting firm, auditing CFO Act agencies, assisting the Joint Staff with developing and implementing an audit readiness plan, and improving the Coast Guard’s accountability for property as a consultant.

Upon his return to government, Harker led the Coast Guard financial reporting, policy, property management and audit readiness efforts. His efforts enabled the Department of Homeland Security to obtain consecutive clean audit opinions. Harker was appointed to the Senior Executive Service at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) as the Associate Deputy Assistant Secretary for Financial Policy. While in this position, he served as the Acting Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Management at the VA, and as the Acting Deputy CFO for Accounting and Financial Management at the Department of Housing and Urban Development.


Mike Duffey brings over 15 years of experience at the intersection of national security technology, acquisition, and budgets, serving in senior roles across multiple Presidential administrations in the White House and the Pentagon. As the Program Associate Director (PAD) for National Security in the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB), Mike oversaw a $1 trillion portfolio of national security agencies, including the budget development and execution for the Departments of Defense, State, and Veterans Affairs, the Intelligence Community, the National Nuclear Security Administration, and other federal agencies.

Prior to his work in OMB, Mike served as Deputy Chief of Staff to the Secretary of Defense and also as Chief of Staff to the Under Secretary of Defense for Research & Engineering. In 2017, Mike led efforts to transition the Department of Defense serving as Acquisition, Technology & Logistics team leader on the Defense Agency Action Team for the President-Elect’s Transition, and then dual-hatted as Associate Director of the White House Office of Presidential Personnel (PPO) and Special Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for White House Liaison. Mike has also previously served as the Deputy Director for Systems Analysis within the Office of the Secretary of Defense, leading Department-wide efforts to assess and report on the Department’s progress in developing and procuring major weapon systems.

As a native of Wauwatosa, WI, Mike graduated from Marquette University High School and the University of Wisconsin – Madison with a Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science. Mike, his wife, and their two children reside in Washington, DC.



Thank you to everyone who contributed to this important discussion.