Trump asked Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates to stay on.

Trump asked Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates to stay on. AP file photo

Here Are the Officials Now Leading Federal Agencies

Most are career employees who will serve as temporary heads.

In December, as is customary, President Obama asked every one of the political appointees in his administration to offer their resignations, effective Jan. 20.

Virtually none of those positions will be filled in the opening days of the Trump administration, creating potential vacancies at the top of every agency in government. To maintain basic continuity of government, agencies name a career employee who will take over as acting secretary until the Senate confirms Trump’s nominees. Or, in some cases, Trump has asked Obama officials to stay behind, and those individuals will temporarily take the reins of the agency. Trump, after being sworn in, can also name his own acting leadership.

Those individuals will not have the full authority of a permanent leader to steer the agencies in a new direction, but are “ready to respond to an incident,” incoming White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said Thursday.

Here is a list of the leaders who will take over at several of the cabinet-level agencies and departments:

  • Agriculture Department: Michael Young, current acting deputy secretary
  • Defense Department: Bob Work, current deputy secretary. Trump has asked Work to stay on and Work agreed. His tenure as acting secretary will likely be short lived, as the Senate appears ready to confirm Secretary-designate James Mattis on Friday. (Note: James Mattis was confirmed as Defense secretary Friday.)
  • Energy Department: Dr. Grace Bochenek, current director of National Energy Technology Laboratory
  • Education Department: Phil Rusenfelt, currently in the Office of General Counsel
  • Environmental Protection Agency: Catherine McCabe, current deputy regional administrator for EPA’s Region Two
  • General Services Administration: Timothy Horne, current regional commissioner for GSA's Public Buildings Service in the Rocky Mountain Region. Horne also served as the federal transition coordinator for the 2016 presidential transition.
  • Health and Human Services Department: Norris Cochran, current deputy assistant secretary for budget
  • Homeland Security Department: Chip Fulghum, current deputy undersecretary for management (Note: John Kelly was confirmed as DHS secretary Friday.)
  • Housing and Urban Development Department: Craig Clemmensen, current director of Departmental Enforcement Center
  • Interior Department: Kevin (Jack) Haugrud, currently in the Office of the Solicitor
  • Justice Department: Sally Yates, current deputy attorney general. Trump has asked Yates to stay on, and she will by default be the highest-ranking official at Justice and acting attorney general
  • Labor Department: Edward Hugler, current deputy assistant secretary for operations
  • Office of Management and Budget: Mark Sandy, current International Economic Affairs Branch chief
  • Office of Personnel Management: Kathleen McGettigan, currently chief management officer
  • State Department: Tom Shannon, current undersecretary for political affairs. Shannon is an Obama appointee Trump has asked to stay on. State spokesman said Thursday Shannon had a "brief and cordial" meeting with Secretary-designate Rex Tillerson. 
  • Transportation Department: Michael Huerta, currently Federal Aviation Administration administrator. Huerta is a termed appointee with one year left on his tenure, and will default to acting secretary come Friday. 
  • Treasury Department: Adam Szubin, current acting undersecretary. Trump has asked the Obama appointee -- who the Senate never confirmed -- to stay at the department, though Szubin will leave government after the next secretary is confirmed.
  • Veterans Affairs Department: Bob Snyder, current chief of staff

If you have additional information about who will be leading your agency after the inauguration, please email us at 

This story has been updated.