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DISASTER PLANNING

Former Ehrlich Aide Becomes Homeland Security Coordinator

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By Mary Beth Sheridan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, April 5, 2007

The Department of Homeland Security yesterday named a former Maryland official and ex-Marine to coordinate disaster and anti-terrorism preparations for the D.C. area.

Christopher T. Geldart, 38, worked until recently as assistant director of homeland security under former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R). He played a key role in managing federal grants and trying to protect Maryland's infrastructure, said state and federal officials.

The DHS National Capitol Region office is supposed to be the main federal contact for officials in the District, Virginia and Maryland as they try to guard the region against a terrorist attack or other disasters. Geldart replaces Thomas J. Lockwood, who was promoted within DHS.

In recent years, area business executives and congressional representatives have said the office was understaffed and underfunded. But last year, its annual budget was tripled, to $2.74 million, thanks in part to a measure sponsored by Virginia Sen. John W. Warner (R).

Geldart's appointment was announced the same day the White House said it would nominate his former boss at Maryland's homeland security agency, Dennis R. Schrader, to be deputy administrator for national preparedness in the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Harvey Eisenberg, coordinator for the Anti-Terrorism Advisory Council of Maryland, praised Geldart's ability "to coordinate with all parties" involved in homeland security.

Geldart spent 12 years in the Marines, DHS officials said. One of his assignments involved finding ways to protect U.S. government facilities abroad from weapons of mass destruction, said Jim Pettit, former spokesman for Maryland's homeland security office.

After leaving the Marines, Geldart worked as a consultant until 2004, said Larry Orluskie, a DHS spokesman.


© 2007 The Washington Post Company

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