Susan McAndrew, dubbed by fellow workers in the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) as "the mother of HIPAA," retired on May 2, and now the leader of the entire group — OCR Director Leon Rodriguez — is on the verge of moving over to head the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), to whose leadership post he was recently nominated by President Obama.

At OCR, McAndrew, the deputy director for Health Information Privacy, "was instrumental in spearheading the development and implementation of privacy policy and enforcement" for the whole Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), according to an OCR spokesperson. (HIPAA refers to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.)

Meanwhile, Rodriguez has been vetted as "favorable" by the Senate Judiciary Committee to head up the USCIS, and a floor vote could take place at any time. Even HHS is in transition, as Secretary Kathleen Sibelius resigned this past month, and the Senate is now mulling the nomination of Sylvia Mathews Burwell, who would likely be the one to name a successor for the departing Rodriguez.

OCR itself is expanding its HIPAA enforcement staffing and has posted job openings at several regional offices for "investigating complaints, conducting compliance reviews, and providing technical assistance and outreach to health and human services institutions, agencies or organizations which are covered entities to ensure compliance with civil rights laws and regulations and with the privacy of protected health information under HIPAA."

Meanwhile, OCR attorney and senior adviser Christina Heide is serving as acting deputy director while a replacement is sought for McAndrew's vacated post.