Homeland Security Department surfaces on Web

The White House's Homeland Security Office and the Office of Personnel Management have been rallying prospective federal homeland security workers via a Web site intended to answer their questions about the new department and transition matters, a senior transition official said.

The site at www.dhs.gov/employees features a collection of documents and official announcements about the Homeland Security Department. It also gives employees a way to supply feedback to the administration.

'In the weeks ahead we're looking at launching a weekly electronic newsletter for employees and, as I said, other roundtables and things like that with employees, given our focus on employee communications,' the official said at a background briefing yesterday.

The administration's concern for creating a unified corporate mission and culture via the Web site and employee communications also was reflected in Homeland Security secretary-designate Tom Ridge's meeting with prospective department employees yesterday, during which he took questions about the transition. The Web site includes a webcast of the HSD town hall meeting, which had about 600 attendees from the 22 agencies that will be merged into the new department.

Administration officials expect Ridge to be confirmed quickly by the Senate and for the administration to hold a swearing-in ceremony Jan. 24. March 1 is set as the first 'real day of the new department,' according to the official, when the department's public Web site, www.dhs.gov, will go live.

The administration's transition team for the department has about 140 employees, the official said.

The employee homeland security Web site went live July 10 but was somewhat static during the autumn while Congress debated homeland security legislation. The senior transition official said the site now would be updated routinely as a communications vehicle for the department.


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