A former uniformed division officer has been named deputy director of the U.S. Secret Service, the agency said Friday.

Craig D. Magaw will immediately take over the post vacated last month by Alvin "A.T." Smith.

Smith resigned under pressure and transferred to another agency within the Homeland Security Department.

"I need a strong leader who can step in immediately and make the very difficult decisions this position requires from a standpoint of having experienced the challenges of the Secret Service at all levels," Secret Service director Joseph Clancy said in a statement. "Craig is that kind of leader. He cares about this agency but he's not afraid to make bold choices and difficult decisions to help us accomplish our critically important mission to protect the President."

Magaw is the first deputy director to have served in the agency's uniformed division and was previously an assistant director for the Office of Strategic Intelligence and Information.

The agency is also creating a new senior position, chief operating officer, who will be the agency's top administrative officer.

"We need to bring an outside perspective to the day to day operations of the Secret Service," Clancy said. "That's precisely why I'm directing the establishment of the COO position. The person who fills this position will be an integral part of our reform efforts."

The Secret Service has been reeling from a series of embarrassing scandals and security breaches in recent years. In the last six months, several top agency officials, including former director Julia Pierson, have been pushed out or have resigned in the last six months in the wake of disclosure of the security breaches.

In September, a man armed with a knife was able to scale a White House fence and run deep into the executive mansion before being apprehended.

A pair of investigations into the incident and the agency as a whole concluded there were leadership and training problems inside the law enforcement agency responsible for protecting the president.

A panel of four former senior government officials concluded that the agency was insular and starving for leadership. They recommended that a new director be hired from outside the agency. President Barack Obama opted instead to tap Clancy, a retired agent who had once led the president's protective detail.

In his first formal visit to Capitol Hill this week, Clancy, who took over on an interim basis late last year and was appointed permanent director in February, had to answer questions about an investigation into allegations that two senior agents were drinking when they drove their government vehicle into a secure area at the White House complex on March 4. The agents were accused of nudging a construction barrier with their vehicle as they drove through the area while on-duty agents and officers investigated a suspicious item. Clancy was not told about the incident for five days.

He told lawmakers the delay was unacceptable and said that if the allegations are proven, the agents will be disciplined. The investigation has been turned over to the Homeland Security Department inspector general's office.

___

Follow Alicia A. Caldwell on Twitter at www.twitter.com/acaldwellap