Google Answers Logo
View Question
Q: 1977 acting defense secretary ( No Answer,   0 Comments )
Subject: 1977 acting defense secretary
Category: Relationships and Society > Government
Asked by: halphillips-ga
List Price: $2.00
Posted: 05 Aug 2005 00:46 PDT
Expires: 04 Sep 2005 00:46 PDT
Question ID: 551967
Who was the acting U.S. secretary of defense from Jan. 20 to Jan. 23,
1977, in the gap between Donald Rumsfeld and Harold Brown?

Request for Question Clarification by landog-ga on 05 Aug 2005 01:32 PDT
This is a very interesting question.

"Sec. 3347. Details; Presidential authority
Instead of a detail under section 3345 or 3346 of this title, the
President may direct the head of another Executive department or
military department or another officer of an Executive department
or military department, whose appointment is vested in the
President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, to
perform the duties of the office until a successor is appointed or
the absence or sickness stops.  This section does not apply to a
vacancy in the office of Attorney General."

According to these records there was not a case in 1977 where the
Presidential authority appointed a temporary successor to Donald
Rumsfeld in 1977.

These records are also cross referenced with the military Secretary of
Defense history.
Donald H. Rumsfeld
Nov 20, 1975 - Jan 20, 1977

Harold Brown
Jan 21, 1977 - Jan 20, 1981

Since April 24, 1996 the Secretary of the Navy would be the first in
line for succession of the US Secretary of Defense.
The Memorandum for the Secretary of Defense at tells us:

"SUBJECT: Order of Succession of Officers to Act as Secretary of Defense 
Pursuant to the Constitution and laws of the United States, including
section 3345(a) of title 5, United States Code, and notwithstanding
Executive Order 13000 of April 24, 1996, I direct as follows:
(1) In the event of the death, permanent disability, or resignation of
the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of the Navy shall act for and
perform the duties of the Secretary of Defense as Acting Secretary of
(2) In the event of the temporary absence or temporary disability of
the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of the Navy shall act for and
perform the duties of the Secretary of Defense as Acting Secretary of
Defense. In these instances, the designation as Acting Secretary of
Defense applies only for the duration of the Secretary's absence or
disability, and does not affect the authority of the Secretary to
exercise during the absence, or to resume when the disability no
longer exists, the powers of his office."

Who is the head of the Navy Department?
"Since passage of the National Security Act of 1947, the secretary
heads the Navy Department under the supervision of the Secretary of
Defense. He or she ranks equally with the secretaries of the Army and
Air Force. The secretary has general responsibility for all naval
affairs. His or her main civilian aides include an undersecretary,
assistant secretaries and a special assistant."

Do you have any information contradicting the US government and/or
military official records?
If not I would like to post the above as the answer.

Clarification of Question by halphillips-ga on 05 Aug 2005 02:45 PDT
I think you got two URLs confused.  The executive order about the
secretary of the navy being next in line is from this year.  That's
the URL.  The one under it, from 1996, has the deputy
secretary of defense as next in line.  (I think that position was also
vacant on the dates I'm asking about, but I'm not sure.)

As far as I know, the president has the power to appoint someone as
the acting secretary, but if he doesn't, it just automatically goes on
down the line of succession.  In other words, even if President Carter
didn't appoint anyone, someone was still the acting secretary.

Also, according to the New York Times, Harold Brown was sworn in on
the 23rd, not the 21st.  I can't post a URL because it's on ProQuest,
but it's an article from January 24th, 1977, called "President Puts
Emphasis on Informality as a Dozen of His Aides Are Sworn In".
There is no answer at this time.

There are no comments at this time.

Important Disclaimer: Answers and comments provided on Google Answers are general information, and are not intended to substitute for informed professional medical, psychiatric, psychological, tax, legal, investment, accounting, or other professional advice. Google does not endorse, and expressly disclaims liability for any product, manufacturer, distributor, service or service provider mentioned or any opinion expressed in answers or comments. Please read carefully the Google Answers Terms of Service.

If you feel that you have found inappropriate content, please let us know by emailing us at with the question ID listed above. Thank you.
Search Google Answers for
Google Answers  

Google Home - Answers FAQ - Terms of Service - Privacy Policy