DHS Secretary Chertoff Outlines Transition Efforts
By Spencer S. Hsu
Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff added his voice to those Bush administration officials welcoming Barack Obama, issuing a statement this afternoon on DHS transition efforts and noting that his department has put itself at heightened alert through mid-2009 because of the potential disruption and distraction caused by the changeover.
Chertoff said he expected aides to begin meeting members of Obama's team "in a matter of days" and was finalizing briefing books and plans for a table-top exercise for incoming officials.
In remarks to reporters yesterday, Chertoff added, " I would like to extend my congratulations to the President-elect for a very well run, masterfully run campaign."
Chertoff's full statement follows.
STATEMENT BY HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY MICHAEL CHERTOFF ON THE DEPARTMENT'S TRANSITION EFFORTS
President Bush has demonstrated extraordinary leadership in directing that every effort be made to facilitate a smooth transition in government for the incoming administration. At the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), we are actively planning to leave the department strong in January 2009, an effort that has been a priority for my leadership team since early last year. Historically, we know transitions may be periods of increased vulnerability. We are keenly focused on ensuring a smooth hand-off to the new administration and working closely with the incoming transition team.
DHS has been aggressive in preparing internally for the upcoming transition, to ensure there are no gaps in the leadership team or in our planning efforts. Our transition is led by the Under Secretary for Management, who appointed U.S. Coast Guard Rear Admiral John Acton as the Director for DHS Presidential Transition in June 2008 to implement the department's internal efforts, as well as coordinate with the new administration's appointees.
Last year, we established a succession plan for all component agencies, ensuring that the top leadership in each component includes career executives who will preserve continuity of operations before, during and after the administration transition. We've trained and exercised those senior career employees to ensure that each component and office within DHS has capable leadership ready to move up and take the reins during an administration transition, and assist new appointees to be ready on day one. In addition, we are going beyond briefing materials to develop and implement improved processes to equip the new appointees with the tools they need, and the information and relationships required to be effective in their jobs.
In the coming weeks and months, we intend to include the transition team in the ongoing series of tabletop exercises that we have been running for some time, to educate the new administration on incident response procedures. On behalf the department, I extend my congratulations to the President-elect, and stand ready to work with the Senate and new appointees to quickly confirm the new senior leadership for the department.
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