New Homeland Security Director Appointed for New Mexico

SANTA FE -- Gov. Bill Richardson has appointed Tim Manning as the new director of the state Office of Homeland Security.

Manning has been acting director since Annette Sobel resigned early last month. He had previously worked in the Department of Public Safety's office of emergency management.

"Tim has a strong background in this work, and has built strong relationships with homeland security officials at the federal level as well as in the cities and countries and the nations, tribes and pueblos of New Mexico and other states," Richardson said Monday.

Manning helped coordinate New Mexico's response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11. He has also managed response to emergencies such as large fires, flooding and hazardous materials incidents, the governor said.

Manning also will hold a deputy secretary position in the Department of Public Safety, where he'll coordinate DPS homeland security initiatives and continue to oversee the office of emergency management, Richardson's office said.

Sobel submitted her resignation effective Feb. 4 to Richardson, saying she planned to return to her work as a scientist at Sandia National Laboratories.

Sobel, a doctor and brigadier general with the New Mexico National Guard, said her tenure gave her a deeper understanding of the needs of New Mexico.

She crafted New Mexico's homeland security strategy, which defines how the state would respond to emergencies including agro-terrorism and chemical or biological attacks. She also implemented a security awareness program for school bus drivers.

Meanwhile, officials from the federal Office of Domestic Preparedness have been looking into how federal grant money was spent on employee salaries in the state Office of Homeland Security during part of Sobel's tenure.

At issue was whether several employees were dedicating their time to job duties outlined by a state homeland security grant.

Sobel has denied any wrongdoing. Department officials say they've given the federal Office of Domestic Preparedness the information it requested.

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