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Designating an Acting Director of National Intelligence

Date of Issuance:

In designating an Acting Director of National Intelligence, the President could choose anyone who is eligible under the Federal Vacancies Reform Act of 1998, even though 50 U.S.C. § 3026(a)(6) specifies that the Principal Deputy DNI “shall act for” the DNI during a vacancy.

The President could designate the Senate-confirmed Director of the National Counterterrorism Center as the Acting DNI, but that person could not perform the duties of the NCTC Director during his time as the Acting DNI because no person may “simultaneously serve” as NCTC Director and “in any other capacity in the executive branch,” 50 U.S.C. § 3056(b)(2).

Because the incumbent NCTC Director was rendered unable to perform the duties of that office while serving as Acting DNI, the NCTC Director’s first assistant would, in the absence of an alternative presidential designation, automatically serve as Acting NCTC Director under the Vacancies Reform Act.

Updated November 26, 2019