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Homeland Chief Charts Changes

Meanwhile, the Senate was engaged in what promised to be a weeklong debate over the department's spending priorities.

Sen. Judd Gregg of New Hampshire, the Senate Republican who oversees domestic security spending, faced a fight with another senior GOP lawmaker over how much to increase funds for protecting mass transit after the London bombings.

As part of a $31.8 billion bill for Homeland Security next year, Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., planned to offer a measure allocating $1.16 billion for commuter rail, subways and bus systems.

The bill currently sets aside $100 million for mass transit security — $50 million less than was provided this year. But Gregg, who chairs the Senate Appropriations homeland security panel and is managing the bill, said he would only consider doubling mass transit security spending to about $200 million.

The House in May approved spending $150 million on transit security.

Many of Chertoff's changes were recommended last year by experts at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and the Heritage Foundation, two Washington think tanks.

"The current organization is weighted with bureaucratic layers — there are still turf wars and there is no place for strategic thinking and policy making," said CSIS Homeland Security director David Heyman, who helped craft the recommendations.

Chief among them was creation of an intelligence director to centralize the analysis of information gathered by 11 Homeland Security bureaus. The director, who has not yet been appointed, will be asked to improve Homeland Security's standing within the intelligence community, where it is perceived as a junior partner and often left out of the loop.

Created in 2002 as a response to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Homeland Security was initially designed to be the government's chief center for analyzing terrorist threats, but an interagency office led by a CIA officer has assumed that role. Homeland Security merged 22 agencies when it opened its doors in March 2003 — the largest U.S. government reorganization in 50 years.

A chief medical officer also will be named to oversee bioterror policy and coordinate responses to biological attacks by the Centers for Disease Control, which stockpiles vaccines and antidotes, and state and local officials. Poor information flow between federal agencies during the Washington-area's false anthrax scare this year contributed to the decision to create this post, officials said.

A new undersecretary will oversee international affairs, strategic plans and work with the private sector. And Chertoff will elevate cybersecurity by assigning it to an assistant secretary, who also focuses on telecommunications.

Eighty percent of the changes can be accomplished under Chertoff's existing authority; the remainder require congressional approval.