Chertoff will proceed with DHS reorganization

Homeland Security secretary says hurricane response effort won't impede effort to rearrange department by Oct. 1.

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff will not delay plans to reorganize the department next month, despite relief efforts in the Gulf Coast region and a congressional investigation into the government's response to Hurricane Katrina.

Chertoff announced in July that he would rearrange the department by Oct. 1, saying he wanted to eliminate the directorate for emergency preparedness and response, which oversees the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Under Chertoff's plan, a new emergency preparedness division would focus solely on preparedness activities, while FEMA would report directly to the secretary and be the "response" wing of the department.

"I think Hurricane Katrina underscores the need for an undersecretary for preparedness ... to focus on both man-made and natural disasters," Chertoff's spokeswoman said.

House Appropriations ranking member David Obey, D-Wis., and Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee ranking member Martin Olav Sabo, D-Minn., Monday sent a letter to the secretary asking him to indefinitely postpone the reorganization until Congress concludes its investigation into the hurricane response.