The NYT has an article discussing the ways in which Mick Mulvaney is changing the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in his capacity as an acting director. There is one item on which it is somewhat misleading. The piece indicates that Mulvaney's status as an acting director is an accident, telling readers that Trump could appoint a new director, but the confirmation process could take months.
While confirmation can be lengthy, depending on the quality of the nominee (Republicans do control the process), Trump has obviously made a decision not to put up a nominee for the directorship. Cordray's decision to resign before his term ended was widely expected. Most administrations would already have a candidate in mind whose name could be submitted as soon as the resignation was announced. However, a nominee for director would be subject to various disclosure requirements and would also have to testify before the Senate. After being approved the director could only be removed for cause.
By contrast, an acting director is not required to make the same sorts of disclosures, nor do they have to demonstrate their competence to the Senate. Also, the acting director serves entirely at the will of the president. Trump can remove Mulvaney any time he chooses for any reason whatsoever.
Trump has followed a similar path with the position of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service. In each case, he has an acting head of agencies that are supposed to operate in a non-political manner. As with Mulvaney, Trump has the ability to remove these heads any time he chooses.
This abuse of the appointment process has received little attention. It threatens the integrity of all three agencies.