Authority for never-confirmed “acting” DOI agency heads extended through May

At the Interior Department, more than half a dozen major divisions lack Senate-confirmed leaders. But that’s not slowing the department down: On Tuesday, acting Secretary David Bernhardt amended a secretarial order that will allow these appointees to keep serving until the end of May, if need be.

The unusual move means that some of the most influential decision-makers at Interior will never have faced formal Senate scrutiny. The original order, which then-Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke signed on Nov. 13, stipulated that eight officials could head major sections of the department even though they had not been confirmed. The group includes principal deputy solicitor Daniel Jorjani; National Park Service deputy director P. Daniel Smith; and the Bureau of Land Management’s deputy director for policy and programs Brian Steed.

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