William J. Burns (October 19, 1861 – April 14, 1932) is known for being the director of the Bureau of Investigation (BOI) (predecessor to the FBI) from August 22, 1921 to June 14, 1924. He was born in Baltimore, Maryland and was educated in Columbus, Ohio. As a young man, Burns performed well as a Secret Service Agent and parleyed his reputation into the William J. Burns International Detective Agency, now a part of Securitas Security Services USA. A combination of natural ability as a detective combined with an instinct for publicity made Burns a national figure. His exploits made national news, the gossip columns of New York newspapers, and the pages of detective magazines, in which he published "true" crime stories based on his exploits.
Burns was hired by the City of Los Angeles to catch the bombers of the Los Angeles Times building on October 1, 1910.
Burns was considered well qualified to direct the Bureau of Investigation, and was friends with President Warren Harding's Attorney General Harry M. Daugherty. Burns was confirmed as Director of the Bureau of Investigation on August 22, 1921. He continued to run the Burns Detective Agency throughout his tenure as Director of the BOI. Under Burns, the Bureau shrank from its 1920 high of 1,127 personnel to 600 employees in 1923.