The Rugby Football Union had initially planned to bring someone in above the England manager to oversee the whole elite structure, from the senior Test squad down to age-group level.
But the RFU board have now agreed to revise the job description, removing all direct influence over the senior England team from the performance director's portfolio.
Johnson will report directly to the RFU's chief executive John Steele and not the new performance director, at least until the situation is reviewed after the World Cup.
All three shortlisted candidates have been informed of the revised responsibilities and the RFU hope to complete their appointment by the end of May.
An RFU statement read: "With the Rugby World Cup starting in the autumn and the positive development of the senior team so far, the RFU board is keen not to upset the momentum established.
"It has therefore approved a change to the job description for the role. The changed job description...removes the senior team and its management from the performance director responsibilities.
"It caps their involvement at the England Saxons level to reinforce the point that this is about talent development up through the men and women's age group teams and about defining a long term performance strategy."
The performance director role was always meant to be focused on player development but the fact Johnson was answerable to the new recruit raised confusion over the exact chain of command.
By reducing the sphere of influence, the RFU have ensured that Johnson's wings will not be clipped by the new appointment.
The three candidates for the performance role will be interviewed this month based on the new brief.
Sir Clive Woodward, currently performance director at the British Olympic Association, has been strongly tipped for the RFU role from the outset.
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