US President Barack Obama nominated Friday James B Comey, a Republican who served in the Bush administration, to head the FBI, dpa reported.
Comey, 52, was a senior Justice Department official in the administration of Obama's predecessor, George W Bush. If confirmed by the Senate for the 10-year assignment, he would replace Robert S Mueller III, who has served since 2001.
Obama praised Comey as a man who "stands very tall for justice and the rule of law," and pointed to his work against organized crime and gun violence as a federal prosecutor and his work as deputy attorney general.
Although he is a Republican, Comey is seen as having an independent voice in Washington, and Obama praised him for his independence and integrity rather than adherence to partisan politics.
Comey has extensive law enforcement experience, including overseeing the prosecution in the terrorist bombing of the Khobar Towers in Saudia Arabia in 1996, in which 19 American soldiers died. He also served previously as the US attorney for the Southern District of New York in Manhattan.
Earlier this year, Obama nominated another Republican, Chuck Hagel, to serve as secretary of defence. Hagel was confirmed by the Senate in February, but with difficulty. Comey could face similar scrutiny, news reports say.
Mueller has held the job of FBI director since one week before the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. US law limits the term of the FBI director to 10 years, but Mueller was granted a two-year extension in 2011 upon Obama's request.
In his 12 years as director, Mueller has transformed the bureau to keep in step with the US fight against terrorism. He is credited with continuing the FBI's struggle against organized crime, violations of US antitrust law and drug crimes.