Bush names DHS’ first undersecretary for preparedness

President Bush has nominated George Foresman, an emergency preparedness expert with more than 20 years’ experience, to be the Department of Homeland Security’s first official in charge of preparedness, the White House announced late Friday.

Foresman would be DHS’ first undersecretary for preparedness, a position created as part of the departmentwide overhaul DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff started in July.

“There is an urgent need to enhance preparedness for catastrophic events in this country, and if confirmed, Mr. Foresman will play a key role in advancing the department’s all-hazards approach,” Chertoff said in a statement.

Foresman works as Virginia’s assistant to the governor for commonwealth preparedness. He is Gov. Mark Warner's chief adviser and coordinator for homeland security, preparedness and relations with the military in Virginia.

Foresman has worked for the state’s government for 20 years, and has both response and executive experience in public safety.

From 1998 to 2003, he was vice chairman of the Advisory Panel to Assess Domestic Response Capabilities for Terrorism Involving Weapons of Mass Destruction.

The panel, which reported to Congress and the president, was also known as the Gilmore Commission, named after then-Virginia Gov. James Gilmore, who led it.

The panel examined federal, state and local capabilities to prepare for and respond to terrorist incidents after the 2001 attacks.

Foresman would have a $4 billion budget in fiscal 2006 to create a new Preparedness Directorate in DHS, Chertoff said in a statement. The directorate will integrate and coordinate all the department’s preparedness operations, including planning, training, funding and implementation.

The directorate will include an assistant secretary for cyber and telecommunications security, a position which industry and Congress long sought to boost the protection of the country’s digital assets.

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