The program has been in leadership limbo since 2013, when the term of Bush appointee Michael J. Astrue ended. Obama attempted to appoint a replacement—Carolyn W. Colvin—
however, her appointment stalled in Congress.
The commissioner oversees the successful administration of the Social Security program—commissioners are not policymakers so much as executives.
For this reason, this appointment has less to do with the future direction of the program than Congress or the President’s cabinet. However, some
Congressmen have taken issue with this continued vacancy, criticizing the Obama Administration for failing to give the issue their full attention.
A spokeswoman for Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) commented that “(Chairman Hatch believes) an agency benefits from permanent leadership,
and remains disappointed in the Obama administration’s lack of seriousness in trying to ensure that such would be the case for the SSA.”
Now, with President Trump in power and organizing his administration, the future of Social Security’s leadership becomes an open question once more.
In the meantime, Nancy A. Berryhill continues to serve as acting director. John Fritze of the Baltimore Sun
further analyzes the issue here.