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Fact Sheet

A massive federal makeover

SUMMARY:
Former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge has been nominated to be the head of Department of Homeland Security

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  • Summary

  • Update

  • Key questions

  • Who's who

  • RELATED
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    SUMMARY:

    The new Department of Homeland Security is the largest reorganization of the federal government since World War II.

    The Cabinet-level intelligence clearinghouse will be dedicated to protecting the United States from terrorist attacks and will combine about 170,000 federal workers from 22 agencies.

    The department will bring together intelligence analysis and infrastructure protection, border protection and immigration, and a comprehensive response-and-recovery division.

    The bill which created the department calls for it to be up and running within a year after it is signed into law, but some officials have said they believe it could take years.

    UPDATE:

    President Bush signed the bill into law on November 25. The Senate overwhelmingly approved the bill on November 19 by a vote of 90-9. The House approved the same bill a week earlier.

    Bush nominated Tom Ridge, former Pennsylvania governor, to head the new department. Ridge heads up the Office of Homeland Security at the White House.

    The president wants Congress to give the new department $37.45 billion for fiscal year 2003. Bush says it can be funded entirely from money saved by eliminating redundancies in the current homeland security structure.

    Personnel would come from pre-existing agencies. Currently, responsibilities for homeland security are dispersed among more than 100 different organizations. The new department would give state and local agencies one point of contact for homeland security issues.

    The 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: Immigration and Naturalization Service; U.S. Coast Guard; Customs Service; Border Patrol; Federal Emergency Management Agency; Secret Service; Transportation Security Administration; and the border inspection part of Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

    While the new department would not become a domestic intelligence agency, it would analyze intelligence and "legally accessible information" from multiple sources such as the CIA; National Security Agency; FBI; Drug Enforcement Administration; Department of Energy; Customs Service, and Department of Transportation.

    KEY QUESTIONS:

    Will the United States be able to maintain its current level of security during the complicated transition to the organization of the Department of Homeland Security?

    Will workers from disparate government agencies be able to cooperate?

    Will the department get bogged down with hiring and firing because the agency is required to negotiate workplace changes with the employees' union? Without agreement, however, the department is free to make whatever changes it wants.

    Will the department be up and running within a year of the bill being signed into law, as outlined by Congress?

    WHO'S WHO:

    George W. Bush: U.S. president who established the Office of Homeland Security within the White House immediately after the September 11 attacks, and signed the bill creating the Cabinet-level Department of Homeland Security.

    Tom Ridge: Former Pennsylvania governor appointed by Bush to lead the Department of Homeland Security and be the president's chief adviser on homeland security issues.



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