From a White House press release today:
The President intends to designate Jeffrey William Runge, of North Carolina, to be Acting Under Secretary for Science and Technology at the Department of Homeland Security.
Runge is currently the DHS Chief Medical Officer, a position created by Sec. Chertoff last July that reports to the Undersecretary for Preparedness. I don’t really understand the rationale behind this decision. The Chief Medical Officer has a very important role to play in strengthening DHS’s role for pandemic flu and bioterrorism preparedness, and giving him temporary double-duty as acting S&T undersecretary could slow down these efforts. Why not choose someone already within S&T as acting undersecretary and then move quickly to nominate someone for the job on a full-time basis?
Update (2/28): House HSC ranking member Bennie Thompson (D-MS) weighs in on this appointment in a Washington Technology story:
Thompson, the ranking Democrat on the House Homeland Security Committee, praised Runge as â€œvery capable and talented,â€ but also cautioned against filling two posts with one person.
â€œWhile I have the utmost respect for Runge’s abilities to adequately handle the responsibilities of these two positions simultaneously, it will be an enormous challenge,â€ Thompson said in a statement. â€œIt is my hope that secretary Chertoff will move expeditiously to fill either â€¦ position to ensure that nothing falls through the cracks.â€