WASHINGTON (AP) – The biggest government reorganization in half a century is starting with the mundane – like finding office space and deciding who gets new digs – in an effort the White House says will take a year to complete.

Nearly two-dozen agencies with tasks as diverse as protecting America’s borders and gathering intelligence will be merged into the new Homeland Security Department.

A few weeks after President Bush signs the legislation, the administration will disclose to Congress the timing for each agency to enter the new department, said Gordon Johndroe, the spokesman for Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge.

The doors open officially 60 days after Bush signs the bill.

Dealing with all the early problems is the transition planning office under Ridge and personnel director Clay Johnson.

“One goal is getting everyone on the same e-mail system during the transition period of 60 to 90 days,” Johndroe said.

“We’ve been working with all these people on how to transition in and integrate it while allowing absolutely no gaps in security.”

In Washington, where proximity is power, one question is where the new department will be headquartered.

“I’ve heard Crystal City, Pentagon City, across the river, over hill, over dale, but if I were secretary I’d urge that the department be downtown,” said Paul Light, senior fellow at The Brookings Institution.

“It sounds mundane but all of the little things that give you an identity in this town are important: stationery, a flag, a logo and they’d better have a Web site open pretty soon,” Light said.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.