Bush launches HSD, pledges incident system

President Bush today welcomed employees to the Homeland Security Department and announced that he will soon order 'the establishment of a unified national incident management system' to give federal agencies a common set of procedures for emergency response.

Since Jan. 24, HSD has been operating with a skeleton crew of a few hundred officials, mostly detailed from other agencies. Homeland secretary Tom Ridge and the White House have been scouting out names for leadership positions, including deputy and assistant secretaries, CIO personnel and others.

Ridge and his staff have also started building the Homeland Security Advanced Research Projects Agency, which will fund much of the new department's IT research.

Tomorrow, HSD will cut over most of the component agencies that will carry out its mission, including the Coast Guard, the Customs Service, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Secret Service and the Transportation Security Administration.

The next milestone in the transition plan is June 1, when HSD will take control of the Agriculture Department's Plum Island Animal Disease Center and establish the Homeland Security Science and Technology Advisory Committee.

As of Sept. 30, the department is mandated to wind up any other transfers of personnel, assets and liabilities specified by the Homeland Security Act.

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