David Bernhardt - Deputy Secretary of the Interior

David Bernhardt serves as Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior. President Trump nominated Bernhardt for the position in April 2017 and the U.S. Senate confirmed him in July 2017. He was sworn-in by Secretary Zinke on August 1, 2017.

As Deputy Secretary, Bernhardt is the second-highest-ranking official at the Interior Department with statutory responsibilities as the Chief Operating Officer of an agency of more than 70,000 employees and an annual budget of approximately $12 billion.

“David's extensive experience serving under previous Interior secretaries, his esteemed legal career, and down-right love of our land and resources is exactly what is needed to help streamline government and make the Interior and our public lands work for the American economy,” said Secretary Ryan Zinke. 

Portrait photo of David Bernhardt, a white man with short gray hair wearing a suit and tie.
Deputy Secretary David Bernhardt. Photo by Tami Heilemann, Interior.

Bernhardt is an avid hunter and angler and recently served on the Board of Game and Inland Fisheries for the Commonwealth of Virginia. He has in-depth experience in legal matters concerning active regulations and rule-makings, with years of legal experience in both the government and the private sector. His expertise ranges from the Endangered Species Act to Outer-Continental leases, from mining royalties to Indian Affairs. 

From 2001 and 2009, he held several positions within the Department of the Interior, including serving as Solicitor. In that capacity, he led the International Boundary Commission between the United States and Canada and was responsible, along with his Canadian counterpart, for maintaining the 5,525 mile international boundary between these two nations. Prior to that, he served then-Secretary Norton as a deputy solicitor, deputy chief of staff and counselor to the Secretary, and as director of Congressional and Legislative affairs and counselor to the Secretary.

A native of Rifle, Colorado, Bernhardt earned a B.A. in political science with a minor in business administration from the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley in 1990. He graduated with honors from the George Washington University National Law Center in 1994 and is admitted to various state and federal court bars. He is married to Gena Bernhardt. They have two children and reside in Arlington, Virginia.