Rep. Thompson: Top-level DHS execs too stretched

The Homeland Security Department's recent appointment of Jeff Runge as acting undersecretary of science and technology?in addition to his job as chief medical officer?raises concern that departmental staff may be spread too thin, according to Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.).

Thompson, the ranking Democrat on the House Homeland Security Committee, praised Runge as "very capable and talented," but also cautioned against filling two posts with one person.

"While I have the utmost respect for Runge's abilities to adequately handle the responsibilities of these two positions simultaneously, it will be an enormous challenge," Thompson said in a statement. "It is my hope that secretary Chertoff will move expeditiously to fill either ? position to ensure that nothing falls through the cracks."

Homeland Security secretary Michael Chertoff named Runge to the newly created post of chief medical officer in July 2005.

Charles McQueary, who came to the agency last March as science and technology undersecretary, announced last week that he will resign effective March 25. McQueary wrote in a letter to President Bush that he has fulfilled his goals since joining the agency. He indicated no immediate future plans.

In budget announcements this month, the White House said it would seek a 31 percent reduction in budget authority for the Science and Technology Directorate, proposing $1 billion for fiscal 2007, down from $1.47 billion in 2006. Most of the decrease comes from the transfer of $315 million to the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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