Secretary of homeland security

Secretary of Homeland Security of the United States of America
Seal of the Department of Homeland Security
Rand Beers
since September 6, 2013
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Member of Cabinet
Reports to The President
Seat Washington, D.C.
Appointer The President
Term length No fixed term
Constituting instrument § 112
Formation January 24, 2003
First holder Tom Ridge
Succession Eighteenth
(presidential line of succession)
Deputy Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security
Salary Executive Schedule, level 1

The United States Secretary of Homeland Security is the head of the United States Department of Homeland Security, the body concerned with protecting the U.S. and the safety of U.S. citizens. The secretary is a member of the President's Cabinet. The position was created by the Homeland Security Act following the attacks of September 11, 2001. The new department consisted primarily of components transferred from other cabinet departments because of their role in homeland security, such as the Coast Guard, Federal Protective Service, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (which includes the Border Patrol), Secret Service, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). It did not, however, include the FBI or the CIA.[1]

On January 20, 2009, the Senate confirmed Barack Obama's appointment of Janet Napolitano to be the third Secretary of Homeland Security,[2] effective January 21, 2009.[3] Napolitano resigned effective August 2013 to head the University of California. On October 17, President Obama announced his intention to nominate former Pentagon official Jeh Johnson.

Inclusion in the presidential line of succession

Traditionally, the order of the § 19 follows this tradition.

On March 9, 2006, President Bush signed 109th Congress, legislation was introduced to place the Secretary of Homeland Security into the line of succession after the Attorney General but that bill expired at the end of the 109th Congress and has not been re-introduced.

List of Secretaries of Homeland Security

Prior to the establishment of the Department of Homeland Security, there existed an Assistant to the President for the Office of Homeland Security, which was created following the September 11, 2001, attacks.


      Republican       Democratic       No party

  Denotes acting Secretary of Homeland Security
No. Portrait Name State of Residence Took Office Left Office President(s)
1 Tom Ridge Pennsylvania January 24, 2003 February 1, 2005 George W. Bush
James Loy[1]
Pennsylvania February 1, 2005 February 15, 2005
2 Michael Chertoff New Jersey February 15, 2005 January 21, 2009
3 Janet Napolitano Arizona January 21, 2009 September 6, 2013 Barack Obama
Rand Beers
District of Columbia September 6, 2013 present

1 James Loy served as acting secretary in his capacity as Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security February 1—February 15, 2005.

Order of succession

The order of succession for the Secretary of Homeland Security is as follows:[4]

  1. Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security
  2. Under Secretary of Homeland Security for National Protection and Programs
  3. Under Secretary of Homeland Security for Management
  4. Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security for Policy (acting as Under Secretary-equivalent)
  5. Under Secretary of Homeland Security for Science and Technology
  6. General Counsel of the Department of Homeland Security
  7. Administrator of (Transportation Security Administration)
  8. Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency
  9. Commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection
  10. Director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
  11. Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
  12. Chief Financial Officer
  13. Regional Administrator, Region V, Federal Emergency Management Agency
  14. Regional Administrator, Region VI, Federal Emergency Management Agency
  15. Regional Administrator, Region VII, Federal Emergency Management Agency
  16. Regional Administrator, Region IX, Federal Emergency Management Agency
  17. Regional Administrator, Region I, Federal Emergency Management Agency

Administration-cited potential nominees

Raymond Kelly

By July 2013, Raymond Kelly had served as Commissioner of the New York City Police Department (NYPD) for nearly 12 straight years. Within days of Secretary Janet Napolitano's announcement that she was resigning, Kelly was cited as an obvious potential successor by New York Senator Charles Schumer and others.[5]

During a July 16, 2013 interview, President Obama referred generally to the "bunch of strong candidates" for nomination to head the Department of Homeland Security, but singled out Kelly as "one of the best there is" and "very well qualified for the job".[6]

Later in July 2013, the Huffington Post detailed "a growing campaign to quash the potential nomination of New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly as the next secretary of the Department of Homeland Security" amid claims of "divisive, harmful, and ineffective policing that promotes stereotypes and profiling". [7] Days after that article, Kelly penned a statistics-heavy Wall Street Journal opinion article defending the NYPD's programs, stating "the average number of stops we conduct is less than one per officer per week" and that this and other practices have led to "7,383 lives saved—and...they are largely the lives of young men of color."[8]

Jeh Johnson

On October 17, 2013, several sources reported that President Obama will nominate Jeh Johnson to be United States Secretary of Homeland Security. The Washington Post reported "Johnson, an African-American, would bring further racial diversity to Obama's Cabinet. The first black U.S. president has been criticized for having a high number of white men in top Cabinet roles."[9]


United States presidential line of succession
Preceded by
Secretary of Veterans Affairs
18th in line Last

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