The Secret Service has decided to remove four of its most senior officials while a fifth has decided to retire, the biggest management shake-up at the troubled agency since its director resigned in October after a string of security lapses, according to people familiar with internal discussions, the Washington Post reported.
The departures would gut much of the Secret Service's upper management, which has been criticized by lawmakers and administration officials in recent months for fostering a culture of distrust between agency leaders and its rank-and-file, and for making poor decisions that helped erode quality.
Acting Director Joseph P. Clancy on Tuesday informed the four assistant directors who oversee the Secret Service's core missions of protection, investigations, technology and public affairs that they must leave their leadership positions.
If they do not resign or retire, they can report for a new assignment with the Secret Service or its parent agency, the Department of Homeland Security, according to people familiar with the discussions.
The assistant director in charge of training, who also headed President Obama's protective detail, announced in recent weeks that he would retire.
"Change is necessary to gain a fresh perspective on how we conduct business," Clancy said in a statement to The Post. "I am certain any of our senior executives will be productive and valued assets either in other positions at the Secret Service or the department."
The shake-up appears to be part of an ongoing effort to overhaul the agency in response to a string of embarrassing lapses and revelations last year, including the ability of a knife-wielding man to scale the White House fence and run through much of the mansion's main floor. In addition, lawmakers were outraged over a series of revelations in a Washington Post report about the agency's bungled response to a 2011 shooting attack at the White House.
Clancy, a former leader of Obama's protective detail who took over when Julia Pierson resigned as director, told lawmakers in November that a desire to fix the distrust of management among agents and officers was "an integral part of why I agreed to return."
A scathing report by a DHS-appointed panel in December concluded that the agency was suffering from low morale among the rank-and-file and was "starved for leadership."
Clancy said Wednesday that his latest moves were based on the panel's independent review and on "my own assessments."
The current changes leave in place - at least for now - the agency's second-in-command manager and one of the longest-serving leaders at the Secret Service: Deputy Director Alvin T. Smith.
The four assistant directors who were told to leave are: Dale Pupillo, who oversees protective operations; Paul Morrissey, who oversees the agency's investigative mission; Jane Murphy, who leads the agency's governmental and public affairs; and Mark Copanzzi, who oversees technology and the tools for mission support.
The retiring assistant director, Vic Erevia, who had been promoted in 2013 to be assistant director for protection after serving as head of Obama's detail and then named assistant director for training in 2014, announced that he would retire this year in the wake of the panel's findings.