Mencer to leave DHS

Suzanne Mencer, the Homeland Security Department's executive director of state and local coordination and preparedness, announced she will resign from her post Jan. 31, 2005.

Mencer, who was nominated by President Bush, oversaw the merger of the Office of Domestic Preparedness into the then new Office of State and Local Government Coordination following her September 2003 confirmation by the Senate.

During her tenure, the office began developing standards for state and local preparedness, designing better processes and formulas to adequately fund high-risk areas and targets, and helping finance more resources for first responders. Those resources include the Web-based Terrorism Knowledge Base recently launched by the National Memorial Institute for the Prevention of Terrorism, a nonprofit organization in Oklahoma City.

She also had to grapple with state and local officials, who often complained that homeland funds were not allocated properly and reaching them in a timely fashion. In June, a DHS-sponsored multigovernmental task force investigating delays in homeland security funding pointed to an entrenched bureaucracy. Among other things, the task force listed several obstacles including the complexity of the grant distribution system, lack of personnel at the state and local levels to administer the grants, and cumbersome state, county and municipal administrative, procurement, and legislative procedures to draw down money.

"Sue's leadership has enabled us to streamline the grant application process and to refine the matrix, which allocates funding to the urban areas at greatest risk," DHS Secretary Tom Ridge said in a press release. "She has also built bridges across the first responder groups to ensure better protection of our communities."

A 20-year veteran of the FBI, Mencer had been executive director of the Colorado Department of Public Safety before heading to DHS. She had also served on the Governor's Columbine Review Commission, which studied law enforcement officers' response to the 1999 Columbine High School massacre in Littleton, Colo. She also was a consultant at the Institute for Intergovernmental Research, providing anti-terrorism training to law enforcement officers nationwide.

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