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Ridge to head security transition office


WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Tom Ridge, the president's homeland security advisor, is expected to head up a new office that will oversee the transition and planning for the new Cabinet-level agency, the Department of Homeland Security, a senior administration official told CNN Thursday.

In testimony on Capitol Hill Thursday, Ridge is expected to inform lawmakers that President Bush has asked him to lead the new office.

Bush created what is called the Transition Planning office, which will be housed within the Office of Management and Budget, through an executive order Thursday.

Its mission will be to work with Congress as lawmakers consider legislation to create a new Department of Homeland Security and to "coordinate, guide and conduct transition and related planning" throughout the federal government in preparation for the establishment of the new massive federal agency, according to the executive order.

"We just wanted to be prepared" since Congress is working quickly to get this proposal passed in both houses, the senior official said.

Asked about reports that Ridge has indicated he would not want the job as secretary of the new agency, the senior official said, "You'd be crazy about (reporting) him having the job or not having the job."

The official repeated the administration's standard message: that it feels it is premature to talk about who will head the new department before Congress has acted on Bush's proposal.




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