Homeland panel's counsel leaving for biotech post

Members and staff of the House Homeland Security Committee will always remember Thomas DiLenge as an unwavering force behind the creation of the permanent panel last year.

And that is what DiLenge, the Homeland Security Committee’s chief counsel and policy director, considers the longest lasting impact of his congressional career as he leaves today to join the Biotechnology Industry Association (BIO).

DiLenge worked in Congress for nine years, the past two for the Homeland Security Committee and the other seven on the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

However, he said he could not pass up the opportunity to work for BIO and its president, former Rep. James Greenwood (R-Pa.). DiLenge will be BIO’s new deputy general counsel.

“Tom has been a dedicated and accomplished public servant throughout his nine years on Capitol Hill,” said Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), chairman of the Homeland Security Committee. “It is appropriate that Tom should end this phase of his Hill career on such a high note with the youngest committee in the House of Representatives.”

The creation of the homeland-security panel is an achievement in a long list of other successes, according to King. Insiders also credit DiLenge with writing part of President Bush’s BioShield program, an effort to develop medical countermeasures to biological and chemical terrorist attacks.

This year DiLenge managed the successful House passage of the Faster and Smarter Funding for First Responders Act of 2005 and the first-ever Department of Homeland Security Authorization Act for 2006, King said.

During his days on the Energy and Commerce Committee, DiLenge played a central role in the panel’s investigation of the Enron and Arthur Andersen corporate-fraud and accounting scandal. The discoveries contributed to Andersen’s indictment on federal felony charges and led to congressional passage of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.

“No man stands alone, and Tom would be the first to acknowledge that his amazing success is the result of the teamwork of many people,” King said. “Ask anyone on the Hill about Tom, however, and you will hear a unanimous opinion attesting to Tom’s intellect, photographic memory, leadership, and ability to build strong teams and find consensus.”