Temporary leaders in federal agencies—commonly known as “actings”—are a fixture of the modern administrative state. These acting officials have recently come under fire, particularly after President Trump ousted Jeff Sessions and installed Matthew Whitaker as acting Attorney General in November 2018. Yet despite their ubiquity and the fervent criticism we know almost nothing about them.

This Article examines open questions about acting officials through empirical, legal, and normative frameworks. Empirically, it provides new data on acting department heads from the Reagan Administration through President Trump’s third year. The data show that President Trump has turned to significantly more acting cabinet secretaries than prior Presidents. Using two agencies as case studies, this Article also examines acting officials outside the cabinet and discovers similar trends. But the data also reveal that previous administrations relied considerably on tempo­rary leaders, particularly at the start and end of presidential terms.

These empirical findings inform the analyses of a slew of tricky con­stitutional and statutory questions. This Article addresses open constitutional questions about who can serve in the federal government’s highest posi­tions and for how long. It also examines undecided statutory issues, such as how the Federal Vacancies Reform Act of 1998 (Vacancies Act) interacts with agency-specific statutes, whether the Vacancies Act covers vacancies created by firings, and whether a “first assistant” can be named after the vacancy and then serve in an acting role. Finally, this Article highlights two thorny areas that have both constitutional and statutory components—the delegation of authority to lower-level agency officials and the applicability of removal restrictions to acting heads at the Con­sumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Federal Housing Finance Agency.

The new data raise additional questions about the conventional criticisms of acting officials as “substitute teachers,” or worse, “worka­rounds,” to the Senate confirmation process. This Article examines these criticisms and suggests that, while the concerns have some merit, acting officials provide needed expertise and stability—in some contexts, the Senate may prefer them to the President’s nominees.

In light of its empirical, legal, and normative findings, this Article then proposes several statutory fixes to change how the executive branch employs acting officials and delegations of authority in the face of staffing vacancies—balancing concerns over accountability and the need for the government to function.

Ultimately, this Article calls for thinking about actings and tradi­tional appointees together. So many commentators have called for Congress to reduce the number of Senate-confirmed lower-level positions, mostly in agencies covered by the Vacancies Act. By largely ignoring temporary agency leaders, the forest may have been missed for the trees. Practically, by their prevalence, Presidents’ extensive use of acting officials has ach­ieved what Congress largely refuses to do.

The full text of this Article can be found by clicking the PDF link to the left.


President Trump has expressed deep affection for his nonconfirmed agency leaders. He came into the White House relying on “my generals.” He now calls part of his leadership team “my actings.” As he once ex­plained to reporters: “I have ‘acting’ [sic]. And my ‘actings’ are doing really great . . . . I sort of like ‘acting.’ It gives me more flexibility.” 1 John T. Bennett, Frustrated by ‘My Generals,’ Trump Turns to ‘My Actings,’ Roll Call (Jan. 14, 2019), []. Early in his Administration, President Trump claimed that “in many cases, we don’t want to fill [Senate-confirmed] jobs.” Cody Derespina, Trump: No Plans to Fill ‘Unnecessary’ Appointed Positions, Fox News (Feb. 28, 2017), [].

This Article examines temporary leaders in federal agencies—known colloquially as “actings.” They are everywhere in the administrative state, and not just in the Trump Administration. We are quick to judge them harshly, although we know nothing about many of them. These stand-ins also raise a slew of tricky constitutional and statutory questions, including some that have not been bandied about in the opinion pages of national newspapers.

President Trump did not always like his “actings.” At the start of the Trump Administration, President Obama’s Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates stayed on as acting Attorney General, intending to remain in the position until Jeff Sessions was confirmed. 2 See Matt Zapotosky, Sari Horwitz & Mark Berman, Trump Has Fired the Acting Attorney General Who Ordered Justice Dept. Not to Defend President’s Travel Ban, Wash. Post (Jan. 30, 2017), (on file with the Columbia Law Review). President Trump, however, fired Yates after she refused to defend his first executive order that barred entry into the United States from certain Muslim-majority countries. 3 Id. He then picked Dana Boente, another Obama appointee, to serve until Sessions was sworn in as Attorney General in February 2017. 4 Id.

Just twenty-one months later, President Trump pressed Sessions to step down. 5 Julia Ainsley, President Trump Has Replaced Sessions. Here’s What that Means for the Mueller Probe., NBC News (Nov. 7, 2018), []. The President had long been angry with Sessions’s recusal from the decision to appoint and oversee Special Counsel Robert Mueller to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 election. 6 Id. Because of Sessions’s recusal, confirmed Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein assumed the role of acting Attorney General with respect to appointing and overseeing Mueller. 7 Id. But when Sessions resigned, President Trump did not intend to let Rosenstein serve as the acting Attorney General for all matters. 8 Id. In­stead, he turned to the Federal Vacancies Reform Act of 1998 (Vacancies Act) and named Matthew Whitaker, Sessions’s Chief of Staff (a non-Senate-confirmed position) as acting Attorney General. 9 John E. Bies, Matthew Whitaker’s Appointment as Acting Attorney General: Three Lingering Questions, Lawfare (Nov. 8, 2018), [].

Likely because of the heightened attention on Mueller’s investigation of President Trump’s 2016 campaign, the Vacancies Act suddenly was thrown into the national spotlight. 10 See Charlie Savage, Justice Dept. Defends Legality of Trump’s Appointment of Acting Attorney General, N.Y. Times (Nov. 14, 2018), []. Could there be an acting Attorney General who was not Senate-confirmed? (Here came the dueling op-eds. 11 E.g., Neal K. Katyal & George T. Conway III, Opinion, Trump’s Appointment of the Acting Attorney General is Unconstitutional, N.Y. Times (Nov. 8, 2018), []. ) The Vacancies Act permits it—under certain conditions—but some argued that the Act did not apply in light of the Attorney General Succession Act, and, even if the Vacancies Act did apply, the Constitution prohibits putting officials in cabinet-level positions without Senate confir­mation. 12 See infra section III.A.2. Interestingly, Whitaker was not unique in his appointment. As this Article shows, acting cabinet secretaries have been drawn from non-Senate-confirmed ranks at least fifteen times since the start of President Reagan’s Administration in 1981. 13 See infra section II.B.

Controversies over President Trump’s use of acting officials have in­volved multiple agencies. About a year before Whitaker’s selection, Richard Cordray resigned from his position as the first confirmed Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). 14 Tara Siegel Bernard, Dueling Appointments Lead to Clash at Consumer Protection Bureau, N.Y. Times (Nov. 24, 2017), []. Right before he left, Cordray named Leandra English as the agency’s Deputy Director. 15 Id. Under the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010, the deputy director “shall . . . serve” as the acting director of the Bureau if the director is absent or unavailable. 16 12 U.S.C § 5491(b)(5)(B) (2018). A few hours after Cordray stepped down, the White House designated Mick Mulvaney, the confirmed Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), as the acting Director of the CFPB under the Vacancies Act. 17 Bernard, supra note 14. Both English and Mulvaney turned up to work, each claiming to be the acting Director. 18 Katie Rogers, 2 Bosses Show Up to Lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, N.Y. Times (Nov. 27, 2017), []. Kathleen Kraninger was confirmed as the CFPB’s second Director on December 6, 2018, a few days before President Trump selected Mulvaney as acting Chief of Staff. See Phillip Rucker, Josh Dawsey & Damian Paletta, Trump Names Budget Director Mick Mulvaney as Acting White House Chief of Staff, Wash. Post (Dec. 14, 2018), (on file with the Columbia Law Review). For more on the legal dispute surrounding the question of CFPB’s leadership, see infra section III.B.1. Mulvaney even brought donuts for the staff. 19 Rucker et al., supra note 18. English filed suit, but eventually dropped the litigation. 20 Renae Merle, CFPB Official Drops Fight for Leadership of Watchdog Agency, Wash. Post (July 6, 2018), (on file with the Columbia Law Review).

A few months later, President Trump fired Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin, naming Robert Wilkie, a Senate-confirmed Assistant Secretary in the Department of Defense (DOD), as acting Secretary. 21 Andrew Restuccia, Did Shulkin Get Fired or Resign? This Is Why It Matters., Politico (Mar. 31, 2018), []. Vet­erans sued, claiming that the Vacancies Act does not apply to openings created by firing. 22 Complaint at 2–4, Hamel v. U.S. Dep’t of Veterans Affairs, No. 1:18-cv-1005 (D.D.C. filed Apr. 30, 2018), 2018 WL 2022014; Nicole Ogrysko, Facing a Lawsuit, VA Now a New Victim of Vacancy Act’s Ambiguous Language, Fed. News Network (May 1, 2018), []. That suit was also voluntarily dismissed. 23 Stipulation of Dismissal, Hamel, No. 1:18-cv-1005 (D.D.C. filed Aug. 1, 2018). President Trump seemed to like what he saw of Wilkie and nominated him for the permanent job. 24 Zeke Miller, Hope Yen & Darlene Superville, Trump Nominates Acting VA Secretary Wilkie for Permanent Job, Associated Press (May 18, 2018), []. Under the intricacies of the Vacancies Act, as recently interpreted by the Supreme Court, 25 NLRB v. SW Gen., Inc., 137 S. Ct. 929, 941 (2017). Wilkie had to step down from his act­ing role while his nomination was pending. 26 Lisa Rein & Paul Sonne, Trump to Nominate Acting Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie to Be the Agency’s Permanent Leader, Wash. Post (May 18, 2018), (on file with the Columbia Law Review). Peter O’Rourke, a political appointee who, like Whitaker, had not been confirmed to any position, took over as acting Secretary until the Senate confirmed Wilkie. 27 Lisa Rein & Josh Dawsey, Trump Loyalist at VA Forced Out After Collecting Pay but Doing Little Work, Wash. Post (Dec. 11, 2018), (on file with the Columbia Law Review). (There were no op-eds on O’Rourke.)

More recently, James Mattis resigned as Secretary of Defense to pro­test the President’s foreign policy decisions. In announcing his resignation, Mattis promised to stay until the end of February 2019—“a date that should allow sufficient time for a successor to be nominated and confirmed.” 28 Read Jim Mattis’s Letter to Trump: Full Text, N.Y. Times (Dec. 20, 2018), []. But President Trump, upset by Mattis’s “stinging rebuke” in his widely dis­tributed resignation letter, pushed him out earlier. 29 Helene Cooper & Katie Rogers, Trump, Angry Over Mattis’s Rebuke, Removes Him 2 Months Early, N.Y. Times (Dec. 23, 2018), []. Under DOD’s succes­sion provision and the Vacancies Act, Deputy Secretary Patrick Shanahan—a former Boeing executive with no prior government or military experi­ence—became the default acting Secretary. 30 See 10 U.S.C. § 132(b) (2018); Dan Lamothe, Patrick Shanahan, Trump’s Pick for Acting Defense Secretary, Steps into Spotlight After Mattis’s Ouster, Wash. Post (Dec. 23, 2018), (on file with the Columbia Law Review).

Shanahan’s tenure marked the first time that DOD had an acting de­fense secretary for more than one day since the start of President George H.W. Bush’s Administration when the Senate voted down John Tower’s nomination. 31 See Historical Office, Office of the Sec’y of Def., Department of Defense Key Officials: September 1947–September 2017, at 11–14 (2017), []; Bush Selects Taft as Ambassador to NATO, N.Y. Times (Mar. 26, 1989), []; Michael Orsekes, Senate Rejects Tower, 53-47; First Cabinet Veto Since ‘69; Bush Confers on New Choice, N.Y. Times (Mar. 10, 1989), []; Andrew Rosenthal, Pentagon, Decisions Await a Leader, N.Y. Times (Feb. 14, 1989), []. By the time details of family violence surfaced during Shanahan’s vetting process for the permanent job, 32 Michael D. Shear & Helene Cooper, Shanahan Withdraws as Defense Secretary Nominee, and Mark Esper Is Named Acting Pentagon Chief, N.Y. Times (June 18, 2019), []. he had spent almost six months as acting Secretary, nearly three times William Howard Taft IV’s service in 1989. 33 See Historical Office, Office of the Sec’y of Def., supra note 31, at 13. President Trump named Army Secretary Mark Esper to take Shanahan’s place as acting Secretary of Defense and announced his intention to nominate Esper for the permanent role three days later. 34 See Helene Cooper, Trump Nominates Mark Esper as Next Defense Secretary, N.Y. Times (June 21, 2019), [] (announcing Esper’s nomination for the permanent position on June 21, 2019); Shear & Cooper, supra note 32 (announcing Esper’s appointment to the acting position on June 18, 2019). Esper was not formally nominated until July 15. Nomination of Mark T. Esper, PN934, 116th Cong. (2019), []. As with Wilkie, Esper had to leave the acting position when the Senate formally received his nomination, bringing the third acting Defense Secretary that year and prompting expedited confirmation proceedings. 35 Joe Gould & Aaron Mehta, Esper’s Defense Secretary Confirmation Hearing Planned for Tuesday, Def. News (July 11, 2019), [].

When President Trump pushed out Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen in the spring of 2019, he intended to elevate Customs and Border Protection Director Kevin McAleenan to acting Secretary. 36 Matthew Yglesias, Trump’s Possibly Illegal Designation of a New Acting Homeland Security Secretary, Explained, Vox (Apr. 8, 2019), []. But President Trump failed to realize he had to also fire Undersecretary Claire Grady, who was next in line for acting Secretary under the agency’s mandatory succession statute, which explicitly pre­empts the Vacancies Act. 37 6 U.S.C. § 113(g) (2018); see also Anne Joseph O’Connell (@AJosephOConnell), Twitter (Apr. 7, 2019), []. See generally Margaret Talev, Shannon Pettypiece & Bloomberg, Latest Homeland Security Resignation Clears Way for McAleenan, Fortune (April 10, 2019), (on file with the Columbia Law Review). Interestingly, McAleenan was placed in the acting role under 6 U.S.C. § 113(g)(2), not under the Vacancies Act, after Nielson revised the succession order before resigning. See Harrison Cramer & Zach C. Cohen, Inside Trump’s Gambit to Install Another Acting DHS Secretary, Nat’l J. (Nov. 11, 2019), []. House Democrats challenged McAleenan’s service under the revised succes­sion order—under the order’s terms, he was not serving because the secretary was “unable to act during a disaster or catastrophic emergency.” Tanvi Misra, Legality of Wolf, Cuccinelli Appointments to DHS Questioned, Roll Call (Nov. 15, 2019), []. Moreover, President Trump wanted to nomi­nate former Virginia Governor Ken Cuccinelli for the permanent DHS Secretary role. 38 Daniel Lippman, Ian Kullgren & Anita Kumar, White House Plans to Name Chad Wolf Acting DHS Secretary, Politico (Oct. 31, 2019), [] (not­ing that the “White House had considered nominating acting Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Ken Cuccinelli for the [acting secretary] job, but learned that 20 senators opposed him”). In late June, after Senate Republicans expressed concern about Cuccinelli’s confirmation prospects, President Trump had Cuccinelli named to a new “first assistant” position—that of Principal Deputy Direc­tor of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)—so he could then take the reins as acting Director. 39 Ted Hesson, Cuccinelli Starts as Acting Immigration Official Despite GOP Opposition, Politico (June 10, 2019), []. But it is not clear if someone named as first assistant after the vacancy occurs qualifies to serve under the Vacancies Act. 40 See infra section III.B.3.

The leadership changes continue apace. 41 In July 2019, Alex Acosta stepped down as Secretary of Labor “amid continuing questions about his handling of a sex crimes case involving the financier Jeffrey Epstein when Mr. Acosta was a federal prosecutor in Florida.” Annie Karni, Eileen Sullivan & Noam Scheiber, Acosta to Resign as Labor Secretary over Jeffrey Epstein Plea Deal, N.Y. Times (July 12, 2019), []. The Deputy Secretary took on the acting Secretary posi­tion. Id. The Senate confirmed Eugene Scalia as the next Secretary in late September. Noam Scheiber, Eugene Scalia Confirmed by Senate as Labor Secretary, N.Y. Times (Sept. 26, 2019), []. In early October 2019, McAleenan announced he would resign after “managing a turbulent relationship with [the] [P]resident.” Zolan Kanno-Youngs, Maggie Haberman & Michael D. Shear, Kevin McAleenan Resigns as Acting Homeland Security Secretary, N.Y. Times (Oct. 11, 2019), []. The Presi­dent then named Chad Wolf as the next acting Secretary, but Wolf’s start date was not immedi­ately clear. Nick Miroff, Trump Says Chad Wolf Now Acting Homeland Security Chief, Adding to Confusion About Transition, Wash. Post (Nov. 1, 2019), (on file with the Columbia Law Review). Like Whitaker, Wolf had not been confirmed to any position at the time the President announced his selection, though his nomination to be the Under Secretary of Strategy, Policy, and Plans at DHS was pending in the Senate. See Nick Miroff, Chad Wolf to Take Over at DHS, but Senate Needs to Confirm Him for Different Job First, Wash. Post (Nov. 5, 2019), (on file with the Columbia Law Review) [hereinafter Miroff, Wolf to Take Over DHS]. Like McAleenan, Wolf, once confirmed to the Undersecretary role, was appointed under the DHS succession order, not under the Vacancies Act. McAleenan revised the succession order before he departed (but after the Vacancies Act’s time limit had run out) to permit Wolf’s service. Misra, supra note 37. Although Nielsen’s amendments to the succession order only permitted McAleenan to serve “during a disaster or catastrophic emergency,” McAleenan’s amendments allowed Wolf to serve more broadly “[i]n the case of the Secretary’s death, resignation, or inability to perform the functions of the Office.” Id.
Also, in October 2019, Secretary of Energy Rick Perry announced he would resign “amid scrutiny over his role in the Ukraine scandal.” Lisa K. Friedman & Mariel Padilla, Trump Taps Dan Brouillette to Succeed Rick Perry as Energy Secretary, N.Y. Times (Oct. 18, 2019), []. Unlike with DHS, President Trump quickly announced he would nominate the Deputy Secretary, Dan Brouillette, for the top position. Id. Although Perry did not leave until December 1, the Senate did not confirm Brouillette until December 2, so Brouillette served as acting Secretary for only a few days before he was officially sworn in. Nomination of Dan R. Brouillette, PN1268, 116th Cong. (2019), []; Ari Natter, Trump Nominates Energy Department’s No. 2 to Replace Perry, Bloomberg (Nov. 7, 2019), [].
In some sense, President Trump’s expressed adoration of acting leaders exposed what had been previously unspoken: Modern Presidents rely heavily on acting officials. President Obama, for example, submitted far fewer agency nominations in his final two years than other recent two-term Presidents, turning instead to acting leaders and delegated authority in many important agency posi­tions. 42 Anne Joseph O’Connell, Staffing Federal Agencies: Lessons from 1981–2016, Brookings Inst. (Apr. 17, 2017), [] [hereinafter O’Connell, Staffing Federal Agencies]. But President Trump’s use of such temporary leaders has been far more extensive and controversial than his predecessors’.

* * * *

Given the prevalence of acting officials (and delegations of authority when time limits on acting officials run out) in modern presidential admin­istrations, it is necessary to take a comprehensive look at these acting officials (and those exercising delegated functions) and the infrastructure through which they serve. To that end, this Article has several goals.

First, descriptively, in Part I, this Article explains the intricacies of the 1998 Vacancies Act and how that Act interacts with both agency-specific succession statutes and internal agency delegation. Notably, acting officials and delegation function as near substitutes. Not all agencies can take advantage of the Vacancies Act or other statutory provisions for acting officials, however. Specifically, independent regulatory commissions and boards may be paralyzed if they lose their mandated quorum as they typically both lack access to acting officials and cannot rely on delegation.

Second, empirically, in Part II, this Article provides much-needed grounding of the prevalence of acting officials in federal agencies. Using new data, it shows that the use of acting officials for the federal govern­ment’s most senior positions—in the cabinet and for heads of the Environ­mental Protection Agency (EPA) and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)—has increased significantly under the Trump Administration. But this empirical study also demonstrates that previous administrations relied considerably on temporary leaders for these important jobs, particularly at the start and end of presidential terms. Moreover, it shows that these positions were sometimes not filled with anyone—for instance, when the generous time limits of the Vacancies Act ran out (as happened for the secretary of commerce role for several months during President Obama’s Administration). It also provides some information on acting officials and delegated authority in lower-level Senate-confirmed positions, across administrations in the EPA and at one point in 2019 (a “snapshot”) across all the cabinet departments.

Third, legally, in Part III, this Article considers a host of constitutional and statutory questions about temporary agency leadership. There are remarkably few cases addressing acting agency leaders or delegations of authority in the absence of acting or confirmed officials. There are open constitutional questions about who can serve in the federal government’s highest positions (principal offices) and for how long—questions that the new data can speak to, in part. As noted above, there are also unresolved statutory issues about how the Vacancies Act interacts with agency-specific statutes, whether the Vacancies Act covers firings, and whether a “first assis­tant” can be named after a vacancy arises and then serve in an acting role.

Some issues have both constitutional and statutory dimensions. Dele­gations of authority from vacant positions to lower-level actors, which often fully substitute for acting officials, can raise both Appointments Clause and statutory authority concerns. In addition, acting officials made key deci­sions that underlie high-profile separation of powers challenges to the CFPB and the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), including one case the Supreme Court heard in March 2020. Those structural challenges target the removal protections on the agencies’ leaders, which likely do not apply to acting officials. The presence of acting officials in those cases may therefore prevent resolution of the agencies’ constitutionality.

Fourth, normatively, in Part IV, this Article challenges the conventional concern about acting officials: that acting leaders function as “substitute teachers,” or worse, as “workarounds,” to the political accountability embed­ded in the Senate confirmation process. In some contexts, acting officials provide needed expertise and stability. This Article tries to flesh out both the attractions and costs of acting leadership in the administrative state (compared to other options, such as recess appointments), from each po­litical branch’s perspective. The competing values and complex political incentives at stake preclude simple conclusions.

Finally, prospectively, in Part V, this Article tries to address some of the problems with acting leaders discussed in Parts III and IV by proposing politically feasible reforms to our current system that try to balance ac­countability and workability concerns. These reforms target, among other issues, the permissible types and tenures of acting officials, the interaction of relevant agency statutes and the Vacancies Act, and the scope and trans­parency of delegated authority in the absence of acting officials. In short, the reforms aim to reduce the legal ambiguity of the current Vacancies Act, restrict certain uses of acting officials and delegated authority while expanding others when formal nominations are pending, and improve public access to important information about these practices.

This Article concludes by calling on administrative law to pay atten­tion not only to agency procedures but also to agency staffing, including temporary officials. These acting officials and delegations of authority are another key example of “unorthodox” practices and the President’s grow­ing role in the administrative state. 43 Cf. Abbe R. Gluck, Anne Joseph O’Connell & Rosa Po, Unorthodox Lawmaking, Unorthodox Rulemaking, 115 Colum. L. Rev. 1789, 1791–96 (2015) (describing the emer­gence of unorthodox legislative and agency practices in recent decades).

One preliminary definitional issue seems in order. This Article distin­guishes acting agency leaders from both confirmed and recess appointees. Even confirmed agency leaders, by nature of presidential elections or term limits, are temporary. These “in-and-outers,” as Hugh Heclo called them, 44 Hugh Heclo, A Government of Strangers: Executive Politics in Washington 100 (1977). serve, on average, only two-and-a-half years. 45 Matthew Dull & Patrick S. Roberts, Continuity, Competence, and the Succession of Senate-Confirmed Agency Appointees, 1989–2009, 39 Presidential Stud. Q. 432, 436 (2009). Recess appointees are tempo­rary too, limited by the length of the relevant congressional session. 46 Since 2013, however, the Senate has not permitted the President to use recess appointments by conducting pro forma sessions. See infra notes 161–162 and accompanying text. Some of the distinction is formalistic. The former have the “acting” title; the latter do not. More importantly, acting leaders have not gone through an appointments process delineated in the Constitution. Some of their similarities (and differences) are taken up below.

Ultimately, we have to think about actings and traditional appointees together. By largely ignoring actings, we may have missed the forest for the trees in prior scholarly treatments of political appointments. Specifically, so many—commission after commission, scholar after scholar (myself included)—have called for Congress to reduce the number of Senate-confirmed lower-level positions across the federal bureaucracy. Practically, by their prevalence, Presidents’ extensive use of acting officials has done just that.