B. Todd Jones, the first head of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to be confirmed by the Senate, will step down this month, more than three years after taking over the agency as it was reeling from a botched sting operation. Before his 2013 confirmation, Jones served for nearly two years as the agency's interim chief after the “Fast and Furious” gun-walking program, which led to the departure of several officials. ATF Deputy Director Thomas Brandon will head the agency while the White House identifies a nominee to become Jones's permanent replacement.
Jones has been credited with stabilizing ATF after the Fast and Furious controversy, improving morale at the agency and cleaning up some management practices that allowed the program to move forward despite risks to the public. The operation, dating from the George W. Bush administration, allowed weapons from the U.S. to pass into the hands of suspected firearms traffickers, with the goal of tracking the weapons to the upper levels of Mexican drug cartels. The last permanent ATF director was Carl Truscott, who resigned in 2006 amid a review of spending on the agency's new headquarters.