Chris Inglis, the deputy director of the National Security Agency and its top civilian official, stepped down this week, according to an agency spokeswoman.
Fran Fleisch is now serving as the acting NSA deputy director, the agency's No. 2 position. She had been the NSA executive director, which is the third-highest ranking post.
Inglis had previously said he would step down by the end of the year. NSA Director Gen. Keith Alexander plans to retire in the spring.
“The plan has been set for some time, first announced internally at NSA this past summer, for Mr. Inglis to retire at year’s end and Gen. Alexander in the spring of 2014," NSA spokeswoman Vanee Vines said. "In each case, their time in office represented a significant extension of service beyond their original tours."
Vines said the NSA plans to name Fleisch as the long-term successor to Inglis "pending administration concurrence."
The NSA has traditionally been led by a military officer as director with a civilian serving as the deputy director.
The personnel changes come as the NSA is under intense scrutiny for its sweeping surveillance programs. A presidential advisory committee delivered a set of recommendations for NSA reforms to the president on Friday. The report is expected to be made public in January, after the White House reviews the recommendations.
But the administration has already shot down one potential change to the NSA's structure. The White House said Friday that the next director of the NSA will still have authority over U.S. Cyber Command, a team of military hackers who attack enemy computer systems and defend U.S. networks.
The decision also means that the next NSA director will have to be a military officer, not a civilian as some privacy advocates had hoped.