A search of the top 100 hits after Googling “czar federal office” reveals references to a privacy czar, an intelligence czar, a drug czar, a trade czar, an AIDS czar, the now-defunct but never-to-be-forgotten Y2K czar, a security czar, an ethics czar, a disaster czar (the master of disaster?), and, most memorably of all, a faith-based office czar :eek: . We are wallowing in czar-torial excess!
Of course, this is mostly a device of lazy headline writers. Ravenman is correct; the term is used for heads whose offices have not yet been elevated to cabinet level status. In such cases, the phrase “drug czar” rolls off the tongue more easily than “Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy”. If this office were to become a full-fledged federal department, the head would become the Secretary of Drug Policy, and would be universally referred to as such. He or she would be a czar no longer—despite the promotion! In other words, if they have to call you a czar, you really aren’t one.