Washington, DC – Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) today released a statement following the press conference by Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Michael Chertoff regarding the Department’s Second Stage Review. Secretary Chertoff briefed Senator Collins about the review during a private meeting in the Senator’s Capitol Hill office on Monday. Senator Collins is the Chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, which has jurisdiction over DHS.

The following is Senator Collins’ statement:

“I applaud Secretary Chertoff and his team for conducting a broad review of the Department’s organization and missions that has resulted in insightful proposals for strengthening homeland security. The Second Stage Review builds upon the theme of integration that was the intent of the Homeland Security Act and aims to ensure that the agencies are working more efficiently and effectively to help make America safer. Whether the issue is securing our cargo ports or chemical facilities, equipping and training our first responders, or improving counterterrorism information sharing, our Committee has worked with the Department not just to identify problems, but also to forge solutions. This Second Stage Review is a landmark for the Department and it comes, appropriately, as the second generation of Department leadership takes over from its commendable predecessors.

“I am particularly interested in the Secretary’s proposal to create a Chief Intelligence Officer and an Under-Secretary for Policy and Planning. A strong Chief Intelligence Officer is needed to coordinate the efforts of DHS’ many intelligence-gathering components, to share key information with the rest of the Intelligence Community as well as state and local first responders and officials and the private sector, and, to ensure that the Secretary has the information he needs – when he needs it – to better protect our homeland. An Under-Secretary for Policy would help direct the future course of the Department, set priorities, and ensure the plans to achieve them are implemented.

“I look forward to hearing more details from Secretary Chertoff when he testifies before our Committee about these proposals and other issues that were addressed in the Review.”

Secretary Chertoff is scheduled to testify before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on the results of the Second Stage Review on Thursday, July 14th at 1:30pm. The hearing will be chaired by Senator Collins and will be held in the Dirksen Senate Office Building, Room 562.