The National Park Service has not had a Director to lead the agency since January 2017, when Jonathan Jarvis left the job after serving as director for eight years under President Obama.
U.S. Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt announced September 30 that David Vela, already serving as one of three deputy directors in the NPS, will now also exercise the delegated authority of the director. In other words, he was appointed to the Acting Director position.
Mr. Vela was nominated for the Director position in 2018 and was approved by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, but the Senate declined to take a vote. When the new Congress convened in January he would have had to have been nominated again by the President, but that did not happen. When he was nominated he was the Superintendent of Grand Teton National Park. After the Senate confirmation fell through, according to EENews he joined the NPS Washington Office anyway serving as the Deputy Director of Operations.
On October 1, 2019 Mr. Vela will take the place of the current acting Director, P. Daniel Smith who has been a controversial figure.
National Parks Traveler has three examples of recent forced transfers of high ranking NPS employees that resulted in them choosing to retire rather than agree to the moves.