Adapted from the PDF version of Key Officials of the Department of Defense
This compilation, prepared by the Historical Office of the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD), presents information about the Department of Defense (DoD) organization and its key officials since its establishment in 1947.
The scope of the work is a Department-wide listing of senior officials, but it does not purport to be comprehensive. “Key Officials” is not official terminology, nor is this a top-down listing of officials in order of precedence or reporting authority. It lists both presidentially-appointed, Senate-confirmed (PAS) as well as non-PAS officials. It includes civilian officials in the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the military departments as well as the top leadership of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS).
In most entries, the effective date of incumbency is either the swearing-in date or initial appointment date. Officials assume office after being appointed to the positions, usually followed by a ceremonial swearing in days or weeks later. Dates of DoD directives establishing the responsibilities of positions and prescribing functions may appear months or sometimes years later. Human resources personnel records, especially for the first several decades of the Department, are imperfect. Offices are often without a permanent appointee for periods ranging from days to years. During many of these periods, there are officials in an “acting” or a “performing the duties of ” capacity. In other instances, there is no indication of an acting official, and a time gap is evident. Since the enactment of the Federal Vacancies Act of 1998, as amended, designation of acting officials and the statutory limitations on how long they are authorized to use the designation of “acting” is more closely managed.
The dashboards were created by the OSD Historical Office using Tableau. No DoD endorsement of Tableau is intended or implied.
This online dashboard captures data from the handbook Key Officials of the Department of Defense, published by the Office of the Secretary of Defense Historical Office.
In this timeline, superseded positions that explicitly had responsibilities transferred to another position are grouped together and colored according to the level of the final position in the lineage. For example, the role of Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research & Engineering (1957-1958) evolved first into the Director of Defense Research & Engineering, and ultimately into the Under Secretary of Defense (Research & Engineering). These positions are therefore grouped together in the timeline by position and color.
For more about the data, please see the introduction above.
The timeline’s bars reflect a tenure in the positions listed on the left. Hovering over a bar segment will reveal the officeholder, the name of the position, and the dates of tenure. Clicking on a segment will highlight it.
The scrollbar on the right will reveal all the positions in the set. Hovering over the upper left corner of the timeline will reveal a toolbar with zoom, pan, and selection tools. The selection tools can be used to build custom sets. Once the desired items are highlighted, another toolbar will appear that reveals filtering and exporting options.
Applying filters can help with searching for a particular answer or can help focus the visualization on relevant data.
Filters applied from a drop-down menu can be quickly removed by hovering over the upper right hand corner of the selection box. Clicking the funnel icon will remove the filter.
Filters applied by clicking text or a bar can be removed by clicking the selection again, clicking another selection in the same panel, or clicking on an empty space in the panel.
Any filter can be removed by using the undo (<--) or reset (|<--) buttons on the lower right-hand corner of the dashboard.
Filters applied from the “keep only” or “exclude” pop-up menus can only be removed with the undo or reset buttons.
Clicking on any text to the left of the timeline will reveal a toolbar with filtering and exporting options. This allows for the creation of views that exclude certain groups or positions.
To find and filter by person, take the following steps:
Type a name or partial name into the search box “Find by name” and hit return.
The results will appear in the table on the right.
Hovering over a name will highlight that person’s tenures in the timeline (if the position is not in view, use the timeline scroll bar to reveal more of the timeline).
Hovering over a job title will highlight a particular tenure in the timeline.
Clicking on a name or position in the table will filter the timeline on one or more presidential administrations. This allows the user to see a particular tenure in context.
To clear a filter, click again on the name or position in the table, on another name or position, or on the empty space at the bottom of the table. Then remove the text entered in the search box. Alternatively, users can click the reset or undo button on the lower right of the dashboard.
To filter by administration, use the drop-down menu. First uncheck “All,” then select one or more administrations.
There are two options for filtering by date. “Show a range of dates” lets the user pick a start and end date, and displays all those who were in office during that range. Users may enter their preferred dates in the “Start Date” and “End or Focus Date” boxes. The “Focus on a day” option allows users to show the personnel in office on a given day. Enter this day in the box labeled “End or Focus Date.” The dashboard will ignore what has been entered in the Start Date box.
When filtering by a range or focus date, a band or reference line will appear showing the selected dates in the timeline.
To clear a date filter, select “Show all dates.” The dates entered in the boxes below will remain, but they will be ignored.
The color legend may also be used as a filter; click on the text or color swatch, and use the resulting menu to keep only your selection or exclude your selection.
Controls for the dashboard on at the lower right-hand corner. These buttons, from left to right, are:
Undo (<--). Reverses the last action.
Redo (-->). Reverses an undo.
Reset (|<--). Undo all actions. Return dashboard to original state.
Share. Provides links to the dashboard, buttons for social media.
Download. Provides several options, including image, PDF, or raw data. Users will be given the option of downloading all the data or a filtered subset of the data.
ASD - Assistant Secretary of Defense
AtSD - Assistant to the Secretary of Defense
DUSD - Deputy Under Secretary of Defense
USD - Under Secretary of Defense
Download a PDF copy of Key Officials or browse a searchable table.