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Bush Taps Agriculture CIO To Fill Same Post At Homeland Security

Scott Charbo replaces Homeland Security's first CIO, Steve Cooper, who left in April to become the American Red Cross' top business technologist.

Scott Charbo, the CIO at the Department of Agriculture, will become the second CIO at the Department of Homeland Security. President Bush revealed his intention to appoint Charbo on Monday. Homeland Security CIO is one of the few CIOs that requires a presidential appointment.

Charbo replaces Homeland Security's first CIO, Steve Cooper, who resigned in April and became CIO at the American Red Cross. Since Cooper's departure, Coast Guard Rear Adm. Ronald Hewitt has been serving as the department's acting CIO.

Charbo's appointment comes at a time when Homeland Security could face major readjustments to its structure. Secretary Michael Chertoff, who took office earlier this year, has been conducting an extensive examination of Homeland Security operations and is expected to reveal changes in the way the 2-year-old department functions. In April, just before he left Homeland Security, Cooper speculated that some functions not involving the agency's core responsibility to combat terrorism might be transferred to other departments.

"You'll see an organizational restructuring, which isn't a negative thing. It's built on learning; it's built on the maturation of the department," Cooper said in an interview, emphasizing it was his personal view. "I don't think you'll see any wholesale demolition of the department."

The types of functions that could be transferred out of Homeland Security, in Cooper's view, include non-counterterrorism research-and-development activities involving criminal justice or defense IT.

"If you look strictly at the narrow framework of criminal justice and law enforcement--technologies solely used in that narrow slice--one could at least put on the table for discussion that it might more effectively belong in the Department of Justice," Cooper said. He cited similar research being conducted with the Defense Department. Cooper declined to provide specific examples, citing national security concerns.

Charbo will be charged with implementing any changes in IT Chertoff orders. The new Homeland Security CIO has been USDA's top business technologist since August 2002, responsible for more than 4,000 IT professionals and $1.7 billion in physical assets.

Charbo previously served as the director of the Office of Business and Program Integration at USDA, where he was responsible for planning, developing, and administering the agency's programs and policies and provided direction in the areas of economic and policy analysis, appeals and litigation, strategic management and corporate operations, outreach programs and strategic planning, and leadership in the agency's citizen-centered E-government initiatives.

Before joining USDA, Charbo was president of mPower3 Inc., an Internet-based agricultural-information system owned by ConAgra Foods Co. from 1998 to 2002.

Charbo holds a BS in biology from the University of Tampa and an MS in plant science from the University of Nevada-Reno.

Charbo was unavailable for comment; his office says he's on vacation.

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