George H.W. Bush Serves as the Director of Central Intelligence

In 1976, Ford brought Bush back to Washington to become Director of Central Intelligence.

He served in this role for 357 days, from January 30, 1976 to January 20, 1977. The CIA had been rocked by a series of revelations, including those based on investigations by Senator Frank Church's Committee regarding illegal and unauthorized activities by the CIA, and Bush was credited with helping to restore the agency's morale. In his capacity as DCI, Bush gave national security briefings to Jimmy Carter both as a Presidential candidate and as President-elect, and discussed the possibility of remaining in that position in a Carter administration but it was not to be.

In 1976, Bush was appointed director of the Central Intelligence Agency. He was credited with strengthening the intelligence community and helping to restore morale at the agency.

The Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1999 was signed into law by then President Bill Clinton on October 20, 1998. Among its provisions, the law directed that the new headquarters compound of the Central Intelligence Agency located in Langley, Virginia, be known as the George Bush Center for Intelligence. In a dedication ceremony, a letter from then President Clinton was read. Clinton wrote in part,

"As you know, in my time as president, I have turned to you more than once for your wise counsel, and I have benefited greatly from it. And I have been well served by the talented and dedicated men and women who make up the intelligence community that you did so much to preserve and strengthen."
Bush was director of Central Intelligence and head of the Central Intelligence Agency from January 30, 1976, to January 20, 1977.

They returned to the United States in 1975 when President Ford asked Bush to serve as the new director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The CIA was emerging from a controversial period in its history and needed a strong, effective leader to improve morale and reform the agency. By most accounts, Bush was a popular director and able administrator. After Ford lost the 1976 presidential election to Jimmy Carter, Bush offered to stay on as director of the CIA but Carter declined his offer. The Bushes left Washington, D.C., and returned to Houston.