Sullivan, a Republican, has been nominated to the five-person Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board.
Sullivan served 26 years in the Navy, including as base commanding officer of the Naval Submarine Station in Groton from 2004 to 2006. He retired from the Navy in 2006 at the rank of captain.
Since June 2011, he has worked as a project manager and analyst at Waterford-based Sonalysts Inc.
The White House announced the appointment in a press release dated April 26, calling the job “a key administration post.”
“It’s a great honor and another opportunity to serve my country,” Sullivan said Wednesday.
The appointment is subject to U.S. Senate confirmation and will go through the Armed Services Committee. Joseph I. Lieberman, I-Conn., and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., serve on the committee. Lieberman and Sullivan know each other, Whitney Phillips, a Lieberman spokeswoman, said.
It will be up to Sullivan if he wishes to have a senator introduce him to the committee, Phillips said.
Sullivan “is a very distinguished former military officer and if he asked (Lieberman) to accompany him, I think there’s a good chance we’d do that,” Phillips said.
A Blumenthal spokesman said the senator looks forward to working with Sullivan on issues important to Connecticut’s safety. Democrats hold the majority in the Senate.
Ledyard Mayor John Rodolico called President Obama’s selection of Sullivan “wise.”
“It’s a very fitting position for him,” Rodolico, a Republican, said. “It plays to his background.”
If confirmed, Sullivan said he will step down from the Town Council. He is serving his second term on the council. He has been chairman since November.
“Sean has been a big help to me,” Rodolico said. “I’ve called on his leadership assets many times. We’ll miss him.”
Sullivan said he and his family intend to keep their Ledyard home.
In Washington, Sullivan will fill a spot created by a resignation, he said. He will serve out the remaining three years of a five-year term before being subject to renomination.
Sullivan’s credentials include a Bachelor of Science in marine engineering from the U.S. Naval Academy, a Master of Arts in national security studies from the Naval War College and a law degree from the University of Connecticut.
Sullivan was the Republican nominee for Congress in Connecticut’s 2nd District in 2008, losing to Democrat Joe Courtney. Sullivan lost a close race to state Sen. Edith Prague, D-Columbia, in 2010. He will not run for the state Senate this year because of his pending job in Washington, Sullivan said.
“I’m not in a position to try again,” Sullivan said.
Prague, 86, announced Wednesday she will not seek another term.