Training & Security Leadership

ONCD Temporarily Fills Critical Vacant Federal Cyber Role

Drenan Dudley Appointed to Serve as Acting National Cyber Director
ONCD Temporarily Fills Critical Vacant Federal Cyber Role
Acting National Cyber Director Drenan Dudley (Image: White House)

The U.S. Office of the National Cyber Director has its second acting director in nine months after the White House appointed Drenan Dudley on Friday to step in for now-former acting Director Kemba Walden, who stepped down from the post Friday.

The White House pick for a permanent director, Henry Coker, cleared a key Senate committee in a Wednesday vote but still must receive approval in a floor vote.

Walden withdrew her name from consideration to serve as the permanent director after The Washington Post reported that the Biden administration had declined to nominate her due to personal debts. A source told the newspaper that Walden has "two young children in private school and a mortgage."

Dudley said in a statement that she is "honored to be asked by the president to lead my colleagues as the acting National Cyber Director."

Dudley is expected to serve in the role until the Senate can vote on Coker, a veteran and former National Security Agency official who would become the second permanent national cyber director, if confirmed (see: Senate Vets Biden Pick to Serve as National Cyber Director).

Lawmakers have been urging the president to fill the vacant role for several months, following Director Chris Inglis' departure in February. They warned in a May letter to the White House that they were "extremely concerned" about the lack of permanent leadership.

"The coordination across the federal government is of the size and scope that demands the leadership of a Senate-confirmed NCD," read the letter, from Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, and Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Wi. Both lawmakers served on the Cyberspace Solarium Commission, which recommended creation of the position (see: Cyberspace Solarium Commission Offers Progress Assessment).

Dudley was seen as the next in line to serve in an acting capacity as media reports raised concerns about the possibility for an absence of leadership during a crucial time for ONCD and federal cyber efforts.

Dudley, a longtime staffer for the Senate Appropriations Committee, also served as assistant national cyber director for budget review and assessment in 2022, according to her LinkedIn profile. As acting national cyber director, she will be tasked with coordinating federal cybersecurity efforts and continuing the implementation of the national cyber strategy, which the administration released in March.

About the Author

Chris Riotta

Chris Riotta

Managing Editor, GovInfoSecurity

Riotta is a journalist based in Washington, D.C. He earned his master's degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, where he served as 2021 class president. His reporting has appeared in NBC News, Nextgov/FCW, Newsweek Magazine, The Independent and more.

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