Exodus from DHS' upper tier accelerates

Robert Liscouski, assistant secretary of Homeland Security for infrastructure protection, this week announced his intent to leave for the private sector, the department said.

Lawrence C. Hale, the Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection Directorate's deputy director for cybersecurity, also plans to leave the department this month, the department said. DHS spokeswoman Michelle Petrovich declined to specify the number of senior slots at the directorate awaiting permanent incumbents.

Secretary Tom Ridge issued a statement praising Liscouski and saying 'his leadership provided a solid foundation for protecting our nation's critical infrastructure.'

The recent personnel announcements at DHS have increased to more than a dozen the number of senior slots awaiting permanent incumbents, according to congressional sources.

Liscouski is set to join Content Analyst Co. LLC of Reston, Va., as its chief executive officer. Science Applications International Corp. announced on Monday that would sell its Content Analyst technology to the new company and hold a minority share of the start-up's equity.

SAIC is set to be the new company's preferred integrator. The Content Analyst technology 'automates the analysis and categorization of unstructured text and data, significantly increasing the accuracy and speed of discovering conceptually relevant information within large volumes of data,' SAIC said in a press release The San Diego company has been developing Content Analyst for six years.

The wholesale personnel turnover at DHS has prompted retrospective evaluations of how well the department's first cadre of leaders have performed.

'I think people don't give them enough credit,' said James Carafano, senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation. 'They had a tough job, and they were starting from zero with no script. Many of the deadlines that Congress and the presidential homeland security directives put on them for how fast things had to be done were unrealistic.'

Carafano noted that he and other policy analysts, along with many lawmakers, have urged that DHS' cybersecurity operation be reorganized and supercharged. The division has operated without a permanent director since last fall, when the previous incumbent, Amit Yoran, resigned suddenly.

Since then, IAIP leaders successfully lobbied against legislation to create an assistant secretary for cybersecurity. But the 109th Congress is set to consider new legislation that would create that position.

Meanwhile, the administration and the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee are preparing for Judge Michael Chertoff's confirmation hearings as Homeland Security secretary. The Senate already has confirmed Chertoff three times for positions in the Justice Department and on the bench, so congressional sources predict that he will be confirmed quickly but may face tough questioning. See GCN coverage.

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