During 1957–1969 Carlucci was stationed in posts around the globe. In 1969 he left the State Department to work in the Office of Economic Opportunity. During 1971–1972 he was at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and during 1972–1974 he served as undersecretary of Health, Education and Welfare (HEW). In the last two posts he served under mentor and future secretary of defense Caspar Weinberger. Carlucci had also become a protégé of future secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld.
In 1975 President Gerald R. Ford named Carlucci to the ambassadorship to Portugal, where he served until 1978. That same year, he became deputy director of the CIA and served in that post until 1981. In 1981 during Ronald Reagan's presidency, Weinberger chose Carlucci to be deputy secretary of defense. Carlucci remained in that post until 1983. He wielded considerable influence, running the Pentagon's day-to-day operations and overseeing the budget and procurement processes. As such, he was a key player in the defense buildup set in motion by President Reagan.
In 1983 Carlucci left government service for the private sector, but he returned to the government in 1986 as assistant to the president for national security affairs and then succeeded Weinberger as defense secretary in November 1987. As the new defense chief, Carlucci worked hard to improve relations with Congress and the State Department, which had not been Weinberger's forte. As with Weinberger, Carlucci was a strong proponent of the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI). Carlucci was intimately involved with the ongoing thaw in U.S.-Soviet relations and took part in arms reduction talks as well as summit meetings between Reagan and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev.
After leaving office in 1989, Carlucci joined the Washington-based investment outfit the Carlyle Group. He has continued to be engaged in defense and national security issues.
Paul G. Pierpaoli Jr.
Wirls, Daniel. Buildup: The Politics of Defense in the Reagan Era. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1992.