Sec. Chertoff has sent identical letters this week to Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-CT), indicating the Department’s intention to rename the FEMA director position as the Under Secretary for Federal Emergency Management. From the letters:
In accordance with Section 872 of the Homeland Security Act (HSA) of 2002 (P.L. 107-296), I am writing to provide Congress notification of the change in the name of one of the offices within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). DHS plans to replace the title of the office and position of the Under Secretary of Emergency Preparedness and Response with the title, â€œUnder Secretary for Federal Emergency Management.â€ ….
There is no proposed abolition of any function or creation of any new programs contemplated by the proposed name change. The purpose of the name change is not to shift or alter any function, but to clarify the responsibilities of the office and position in light of the Second Stage Review reorganization and the FY 2006 Appropriations Act.
Perhaps this is a response to the difficulty that DHS has had finding a new director for FEMA. And it’s possible that there will be some pushback on this decision from Congress, consistent with the spat after the Second-Stage Review announcement as to DHS’s authority to create new Under Secretary and Assistant Secretary positions short of congressional approval.