DHS names permanent privacy officer

By Daniel Pulliam

July 21, 2006

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff announced the appointment of a permanent chief privacy officer Friday, nearly 10 months after the first privacy chief, Nuala O'Connor Kelly, left.

As the DHS chief privacy officer, Hugo Teufel will manage an office of about 30 staff members, including some contractors, and will oversee privacy compliance and the protection of personal information across the department.

Teufel will be stepping in for acting chief privacy officer Maureen Cooney, who left the department Friday for a private sector law firm.

Previously, Teufel served as the department's associate general counsel.

"Hugo is an outstanding professional, who I have counted on for steady judgment and sound advice," Chertoff said in a statement. "Hugo is highly regarded throughout the department and the legal community for his expertise on privacy, employee relations and civil rights issues."

Prior to serving at DHS, Teufel was the associate solicitor at the Interior Department and the deputy solicitor general for the state of Colorado. He graduated from the Washington College of Law at American University and is pursuing a master's degree in national security and strategic studies at the Naval War College.

"Hugo has my appreciation for his continued service, and he has my complete confidence and support as chief privacy officer," Chertoff said.

O'Connor Kelly, while not available for comment for this article, told Government Executive in a recent interview that she believes Cooney will be a "tough act to follow."

Cooney's replacement must be a forceful advocate for privacy by demonstrating the office's importance, said O'Connor Kelly, who left the department at the end of last September. "They deserve a leader that they respect as a manager and as a privacy expert," O'Connor Kelly said.

By Daniel Pulliam

July 21, 2006