Mike Brown, the deputy director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, is President Bush's choice to oversee the goverment's disaster- and emergency-assistance efforts when the agency when becomes part of the new Department of Homeland Security, officials said Friday.

Brown had been considered a leading candidate to replace longtime Bush aide Joe Allbaugh, who announced in December he is stepping down as FEMA's chief in March.

Administration officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the White House would make the announcement that Brown will be nominated for the post of undersecretary for emergency preparedness and response at the new Homeland Security Department.

FEMA is scheduled to fold into the agency on March 1, along with other agencies such as the Secret Service, Customs Service and Immigration and Naturalization Service.

Bush has been busy in recent days announcing key homeland security positions throughout the government.

Bush signed legislation Nov. 25 creating the department. A White House blueprint calls for it to be fully operational by Sept. 30, with 170,000 workers.