Cox to leave House homeland security panel, join SEC

Rep. Christopher Cox (R-Calif.) appears poised to leave his chairmanship of the House Homeland Security Committee, as President George W. Bush nominated him to be chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Cox's move throws into question the IT oversight and authorization legislation functions of the homeland security panel, even as Homeland Security Department leaders put the finishing touches on a plan to overhaul the department in tune with secretary Michael Chertoff's policy review. Results of that policy review likely will emerge at the end of this month, sources say.

James Carafano, senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation and a longtime homeland security analyst, said, 'The heavy lifting for this year in the House is done. They passed the authorization bill and sent it to the Senate.'

Cox led the House Select Homeland Security Committee that preceded the current panel. He also managed the process by which the select committee achieved permanent standing committee status earlier this year [see GCN story.

Cox will continue as chairman of the homeland security panel until the Senate confirms his nomination for the SEC job. The House Republican leadership has not yet announced who will take over from Cox.

Under Cox's leadership, the Homeland Security Committee vigorously investigated IT issues at DHS. A major topic of the committee's IT oversight work has been its effort to elevate the job of cybersecurity director in the Information Assurance and Infrastructure Protection Directorate to assistant secretary status, a change included in the pending homeland security authorization bill.

Cox and other committee members also have endorsed Government Accountability criticism of the department's IT practices [see GCN story].

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