Capital Roundup

Second-stage DHS review near end

Secretary Michael Chertoff's comprehensive review of the Homeland Security Department is wrapping up in several weeks, and there is talk that at least one major policy idea -- creation of an undersecretary for policy -- may be gaining traction.

Top DHS officials were briefed in December on that proposal and other reorganization ideas by scholars from the Heritage Foundation and the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Those proposals have support in DHS, but some of their biggest boosters have since left the department, according to a participant at the invitation-only briefing.

S&T: Calmer seas ahead

Industry officials are optimistic that the dust soon will settle on the personnel tensions between the top two officials at the DHS Science and Technology Directorate: Undersecretary Charles McQueary and Assistant Secretary Penrose "Parney" Albright. Albright submitted his resignation May 10, although his departure date has not been announced.

"It is common knowledge they did not get along," said an IT attorney. "They never clicked, and they blamed each other for everything that went wrong."

Said a lobbyist for a business group: "Parney's departure will remove the conflicting signals we have received about what is happening at S&T. It put stress on the operation, and we're glad it will change."  

Fusion centers still confusing?

States are setting up fusion centers to "fuse" intelligence and data from multiple state, local and federal sources, but they still face "problems, challenges and legal issues," including how to handle surveillance tapes of public places, said John Thomasian, director of the center for best practices at the National Governors Association.

Fusion centers are one of the topics on the agenda for state homeland security directors coming to an NGA invitation-only forum in the Washington area in early June.

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