FEMA Director Allbaugh (Photo courtesy of Federal Emergency Management Agency)

Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Joe M. Allbaugh has said he will leave his job on March 1 for an unspecified private-sector position. FEMA is to become part of the new Dept. of Homeland Security on that date.

Before coming to FEMA in February 2001, Allbaugh was national manager for the Bush-Cheney campaign. From 1995 to 2000 he was chief of staff for Bush when he was governor of Texas.

The 50-year-old Allbaugh "has several different opportunities" that he is considering, says Debbie Wing, a FEMA spokesperson. He also will be an advisor to President Bush's re-election campaign, she adds.

Under Allbaugh, FEMA has responded to 89 large-scale disasters, including the Nisqually, Wash., earthquake two weeks after he was sworn in. FEMA played a key role in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The agency is in charge of disseminating about $4.9 billion for New York City for reconstruction and reimbursement for emergency response expenses.

In making the announcement on Dec. 16, Allbaugh said, "I have been a long time advocate for the Department of Homeland Security and now that it is a reality and the President has a great team in place, I feel I can move on to my next challenge."