Homeland Chief Charts Changes

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff addresses the agency's employees at DHS headquarters in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 16, 2005. Chertoff was sworn in Tuesday shortly after the Senate confirmed him by a 98-0 vote. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
AP
The two-year-old Homeland Security Department is undergoing a massive overhaul to centralize its analyses of terrorism intelligence and place higher priority on bioterrorism.

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff was resetting top priorities in a bid to spur a sluggish bureaucracy beset by turf wars and growing pains.

Creation of an intelligence director to centralize terrorism analyses and a chief medical officer to focus on bioterrorism are among top changes to be announced by Chertoff on Wednesday. These are two areas where experts believe the department has lagged.

Aides indicate he is still considering the future of the color-coded terror alert system, reports CBS News Correspondent Peter Maer.

Chertoff ordered a review in March, shortly after he took office, to ensure Homeland Security puts most of its resources into the nation's most vulnerable areas.

"Our department must drive improvement with a sense of urgency," Chertoff said in remarks prepared for Wednesday. "Our enemy constantly changes and adapts, so we as a department must be nimble and decisive."

Transportation and border security are among Chertoff's top priorities and will get more personnel, detection and screening technology and other resources, according to department officials. They spoke Tuesday on condition of anonymity because the changes had not yet been announced.

Some lawmakers Chertoff briefed Tuesday said the overhaul was headed in the right direction but remained skeptical that bureaucratic reorganization would make the country safer.

"We appreciated him coming and talking to us, but ... at the end of the day you have to show Congress and the public what you have done will in fact make us safer" said Rep. Bennie G. Thompson of Mississippi, top Democrat on the House Homeland Security Committee.

Thompson said Chertoff highlighted immigration and vulnerabilities at chemical and nuclear plants as top priorities.