Virginia disaster expert to be DHS chief of emergencies

President George W. Bush has nominated disaster management veteran George W. Foresman as the Homeland Security Department's undersecretary for preparedness.

Foresman, who for 20 years has held senior management and operational jobs in emergency management for Virginia, received the nod for the newly created post amid charges in recent weeks that the previous Federal Emergency Management Agency leadership was riddled with inexperienced political cronies.

Foresman currently is Virginia's assistant to the governor for commonwealth preparedness, where he previously held the deputy position. He joined the state government in 1985.

From 1999 to 2003, Foresman was vice chairman of the Advisory Panel to Assess Domestic Response Capabilities to Terrorism Involving Weapons of Mass Destruction.

The Council of State Governments' biography of Foresman notes that he has worked as state or deputy state coordinating officer for 14 presidentially declared disasters in Virginia during the past eight years, and has directed state emergency and disaster operations for 25 gubernatorially declared emergencies and hundreds of smaller events since 1992.

The council referred to him as a member of several national emergency related associations and "a nationally recognized expert on state emergency preparedness issues."

Homeland Security secretary Michael Chertoff said in a statement that Foresman would have $4 billion to build the Preparedness Directorate, which will consolidate all DHS' planning, training, exercising and funding for emergencies.

"In addition, the Preparedness Directorate will include a U.S. Fire Administration, chief medical officer and an assistant secretary for cyber and telecommunications security," Chertoff said as he praised Bush's decision to nominate Foresman.

Wilson P. Dizard III is a senior writer for Washington Technology's sister publication, Government Computer News.

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