The former Wales captain took charge of his country's 3-0 whitewash tour to Australia, while Gatland was sidelined after an accident saw him break both of his feet in a fall at home.
And the former Lions scrum-half is ecstatic to be given the responsibility of over-seeing the national side with immediate effect for a little while longer.
"It is an honour and a privilege to have been asked to continue as head coach of Wales in my caretaker role for this extended period," said Howley.
"I thoroughly enjoyed my experience of heading up the coaching team over the summer and now I am looking forward to building on that during the months ahead.
"Work is already well advanced in preparation for the autumn and I know we have some great games to look forward to against some of the toughest opposition in the world game.
"I want to thank the Welsh Rugby Union for offering me this opportunity and I look forward to the challenges that lie ahead."
Gatland will be reinstated as head coach for the final two autumn internationals against New Zealand and Australia, and Howley has expressed his joy at the appointment of Gatland as Lions coach.
Howley said: "I am also delighted for Warren who thoroughly deserves to have been selected to coach the British and Irish Lions on their 2013 tour."