Washington, DC – Senator Susan Collins today chaired a hearing of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee to consider the nomination of Michael Jackson to be Deputy Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The Committee has jurisdiction over DHS and must approve the President’s nominations to head the department, before the nominees are voted on by the Senate.

“I believe that Mr. Jackson’s distinguished and varied career prepares him well for the Deputy Secretary position. He was Deputy Secretary of Transportation on September 11th and thus was on the front lines of the war on terror from the very start. He was a leader in the creation of the Transportation Security Administration,” said Senator Collins. “Beyond an impressive employment record, Mr. Jackson also brings with him something that will be invaluable to the Department: a reputation as a great manager.”

In addition, Senator Collins pointed out that Jackson has had valuable experience in the private sector that bears directly on some of DHS’s most pressing issues, including work at the American Trucking Association and Lockheed Martin, and most recently as Chief Operating Officer of AECOM Technology Corporation.

Senator Collins commended the first generation of DHS leaders for doing a remarkable job of laying the foundation for the department, but said that much remains to be done.

“A lack of strategic planning continues to hamper our ability to direct resources to the right place at the right time. The configuration of the Department itself has yet to be refined for maximum efficiency and effectiveness. There is a need to define more clearly the authorities of the agencies within DHS and between the Department and other agencies and departments,” said Senator Collins. “On a more specific level, I am very concerned about a number of issues. For example, our nation’s seaports remain an obvious vulnerability and have not received the resources and priorities they warrant. The delay in implementing the Transportation Worker Identification Credential program is inexplicable and unacceptable. And the Administration’s budget would reduce funding for our first responders to inadequate levels.”

Senator Collins’ Committee has already held several oversight hearings this year to explore the status of DHS and to chart its future. The Committee is scheduled to hear testimony later this week from DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff regarding DHS’ Fiscal Year 2006 budget. The hearing is scheduled for Wednesday, March 9th at 10:00am, in the Dirksen Senate Office Building, Room 342.