Changes in leadership at Interior

By Madilyn Jarman

Leadership changes are taking place throughout the Department of Interior. ©Yellowstone National Park

Many top leadership positions within the Interior Department and other departments are appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate. So far, 345 key positions appointed by the President that require Senate confirmation have received that confirmation, out of the more than 1,200 positions that require Senate confirmation. There are 17 positions subject to this process within the Interior department, including the Interior secretary, and several still lack a confirmed appointee.

According to reports, Andrea Travnicek is due to take over as the new acting assistant secretary for fish, wildlife and parks in the Department of the Interior. She has been serving as principal deputy assistant secretary for water and science since last year.

Travnicek will replace Susan Combs, who was appointed acting assistant secretary in April 2018 after her nomination for assistant secretary for policy, management and budget stalled in the Senate. Combs will now be the acting assistant secretary for policy management and budget while still awaiting Senate confirmation.

The White House has not yet nominated long-term candidates for several Senate-confirmed positions in the Interior department, including assistant secretary for fish, wildlife and parks, National Park Service director, Bureau of Land Management director and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service director. Instead, temporary leadership has largely stepped in to fill the gaps.

Additionally, other DOI leaders have recently left or are leaving their positions.

Greg Sheehan has recently left his post as the principal deputy director of the USFWS. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke appointed Sheehan to the position in 2017. Sheehan had previously served as the director of the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources before relocating to Washington.

Olivia Barton Ferriter, the department’s deputy assistant secretary for budget, finance, performance and acquisitions will also be leaving at the end of August. Richard Cardinale, the acting deputy director of operations for BLM, left last week after his 60-day term in the post expired. His appointment was expected to be temporary when he took the position in June. Margret Schneider, previously BLM’s assistant director of business, fiscal and information resources management, has taken over leading operations until a permanent replacement is found. The job has been posted on USAJOBS, the federal government’s job website.

All of these leadership changes come on the heels of an Inspector General report examining the controversial reassignments of 27 Senior Executive Service members between June and October 2017. The department is also in the middle of planning and implementing some large-scale reorganization plans that potentially include moving some agency headquarters out of Washington.

Sources: E&E News, Washington Post

Madilyn Jarman is a Policy Communication Intern at The Wildlife Society. Read more of Madilyn's articles.

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