Larger Virginia Tech Shooting Panel Being Considered

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Even as the three cabinet secretaries tapped by President Bush to review the Virginia Tech shootings hit the road this week on a listening tour, the White House is considering a broader commission to study and recommend changes to school security and related issues, according to officials.

While the trio--Education Secretary Margaret Spellings, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, and Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt--plan to look at mental health and security issues from kindergarten to college, the broader commission would include many more officials from school systems, colleges, and health fields. But a White House official said the idea for a commission is still in the planning stages and that it might not be formed if the cabinet approach works.

The three are to report their findings to the White House in 30 days, at which point the administration will consider further action. One name in the mix to be on, or perhaps to run, the still-unformed commission is Sean O'Keefe, the president's former NASA administrator and deputy budget chief. O'Keefe is now chancellor at Louisiana State University. He had previously served in the first Bush administration as Navy secretary and Pentagon comptroller and later worked at Penn State and Syracuse universities.

His name has surfaced because of his work during Hurricane Katrina to help bring New Orleans families and college students to LSU in Baton Rouge. Leavitt visited the campus to discuss the school's Katrina efforts and review LSU's medical evacuation role and security and law enforcement challenges on the campus during that time. He also has a good working relationship with Spellings from their days inside the White House, when he was deputy budget director and she ran the domestic policy shop.

--Paul Bedard