Section 18. The division of conservation services within the office of the secretary of the executive office of environmental affairs shall be under the administrative supervision of a director who shall be called the director of conservation services. The director shall be qualified by training, experience and executive ability, shall be appointed and may be removed by the secretary and shall not be subject to the provisions of chapter thirty-one. The division shall administer the provisions of this chapter relating to conservation districts and such other programs and duties as may be assigned to it by the secretary from time to time. It may receive and expend or dispense without further authorization such federal funds, services, grants or subventions as may be made available for the purposes of the division. The director shall appoint, with the approval of the secretary, subject to the provisions of chapter thirty-one, such experts, clerks and other employees from time to time, and for such periods, as he may determine to be necessary. The director shall also appoint, with the approval of the secretary, an executive secretary. The appointment and removal of said executive secretary shall not be subject to the provisions of section nine A of chapter thirty or chapter thirty-one. The director may request from the state commission, established under the provisions of section nineteen, a list of no more than three candidates for such position.