Fixing a 'confusing patchwork'
In what aides call the most dramatic change in government structure since World War II, President Bush is proposing a sweeping reform of homeland security efforts that would create a new Cabinet office and, within it, an intelligence clearinghouse to gather and analyze information from an array of sources.
Congress would need to approve the new Cabinet post, which would be the Department of Homeland Security, but already there is broad bipartisan support for doing so. Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Massachusetts, calls it "a positive step long-awaited by many of us in Congress."
The new Cabinet agency would be called the Department of Homeland Security. Several top White House officials say Tom Ridge, current chief of the Office of Homeland Security, is by far the leading candidate.
The president wants Congress to give the new department $37.45 billion for FY 2003. Bush says it can be funded entirely from savings achieved by eliminating redundancies in the current homeland security structure.
The president's budget calls for 169,154 full-time positions in the Department of Homeland Security. Personnel would come from pre-existing agencies.
President Bush says homeland security must be the mission of a single agency. Currently, responsibilities for homeland security are dispersed among more than 100 different organizations, resulting in what he terms a "confusing patchwork" of government activities. The new department would also give state and local agencies one point of contact for homeland security issues.
The new department would be divided into four divisions: Border and Transportation Security; Emergency Preparedness and Response; Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Countermeasures; and Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection.
Existing agencies that would be placed under the department's authority are: U.S. Coast Guard; Customs Service; Immigration and Naturalization Service and Border Patrol; the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service of the Department of Agriculture; the recently created Transportation Security Administration; and the Secret Service
While the new department would not become a domestic intelligence agency, it would analyze intelligence and "legally accessible information" from multiple sources, including: CIA; National Security Agency; FBI; Drug Enforcement Administration; Department of Energy; Customs Service; and Department of Transportation. The newly formed FBI Office of Intelligence would be an "important partner" for the new department, Bush says.
Congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle vow quick legislative action to create the department. Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott says he hopes Congress will pass the legislation by the end of the year. President Bush is calling on Congress to establish the new department by the close of its current session so that it can begin work by January 1.
Bush says he hopes the department can begin full work over a phased-in period once Congress approves it.
What obstacles does Bush's homeland security plan face in Congress?
Will Bush nominate Tom Ridge to lead the department, and would Congress approve him?
How much would the restructuring cost?
Can Bush's plan cut through bureaucracy and infighting, or does it risk exacerbating the problems?
George W. Bush: U.S. president who established the Office of Homeland Security within the White House immediately after the September 11 attacks.
Tom Ridge: Former Pennsylvania governor appointed by Bush to lead the Office of Homeland Security and be the president's chief adviser on homeland security issues.
Trent Lott: A Mississippi Republican and Senate minority leader
Edward Kennedy: A Democratic U.S. Senator from Massachusetts
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