Drenan Dudley has been appointed to serve as the Acting National Cyber Director, taking over as the second acting director in nine months since the departure of the former acting director Kemba Walden. The U.S. Office of the National Cyber Director announced this appointment on Friday following Walden’s resignation. The next Senate vote will confirm Henry Coker as the permanent director. The former acting director, Walden, withdrew her name from consideration after the Biden administration declined to nominate her due to personal debts.
Dudley expressed her gratitude in a statement, saying that she is “honored to be asked by the president to lead my colleagues as the acting National Cyber Director.” She is expected to serve in this capacity until the Senate can vote on Coker, who cleared a key Senate committee in a Wednesday vote for the permanent director position. If confirmed, Coker will become the second permanent national cyber director.
The role of the National Cyber Director has been vacant since the departure of Director Chris Inglis in February, prompting lawmakers to urge the president to fill the position. A group of lawmakers sent a May letter to the White House expressing their “extreme concern” about the lack of permanent leadership in federal cybersecurity efforts. The letter emphasized the need for a Senate-confirmed National Cyber Director to oversee the coordination of federal cybersecurity efforts, echoing the recommendations of the Cyberspace Solarium Commission.
Dudley’s appointment as the Acting National Cyber Director comes at a crucial time for the Office of the National Cyber Director and federal cyber efforts, following concerns about a potential leadership vacuum. Dudley brings relevant experience to the role, having served as the assistant national cyber director for budget review and assessment in 2022, along with her background as a longtime staffer for the Senate Appropriations Committee. Her responsibilities will include coordinating federal cybersecurity efforts and continuing the implementation of the national cyber strategy released by the administration in March.
The appointment of Drenan Dudley as the Acting National Cyber Director reflects the ongoing effort to address the leadership gap in federal cybersecurity. The role of the National Cyber Director is crucial in overseeing and coordinating cybersecurity efforts across the federal government, and Dudley’s tenure in this acting capacity will provide continuity and leadership until a permanent director is confirmed. Her experience and background in cybersecurity and policy make her well-positioned to lead the Office of the National Cyber Director during this pivotal time for federal cybersecurity initiatives.