and with his concurrence it is my desire to continue to serve as Secretary of Homeland Security through February 1st of next year unless my successor is confirmed by the Senate earlier. It was, obviously, a very difficult decision, but a decision that I was pleased to be able to communicate in a personal way with my leadership team earlier today as well. We have 40 or 50 of the most incredible Americans who have been an integral part of the leadership team of this Department from all walks of life that are on a two-day, off-site session as we look at some budget matters and we do some strategic planning for the next five years, and I was also able to communicate by e-mail to the 180,000 men and women with whom I've been privileged to work for nearly two years.
I think we have accomplished a great deal in a short period of time. As I've said to the President, there will always be more work for us to do in Homeland Security, but if you take a look at many of the innovations, the improvements to security, the enhancements to safety at ports of entry, the partnerships that we've developed with the state and locals and the private sector, just all in all, I think it's a reflection of the commitment and the dedication and the energy and the professionalism, really the combined power of about 180,000 people strong.
I know I've said to many of my co-workers, not only in Washington but around the country during my tenure as their Secretary, that on a day-to-day basis one could say that individual decisions that these men and women make out there at Ports of Entry have as much to do with the security of the country as any individual decisions we might make here at headquarters. As I've said to you many times before, we have to be right a billion-plus times a year, meaning we have to make literally hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of decisions every year, or every day, and the terrorists only have to be right once.
The President has given me an extraordinary opportunity to serve my country in this incredible period since September 11th, 2001. I will always be grateful for his call to service. I will always be grateful for the opportunity to serve my country with this President as its leader.
Thank you. Homeland Security
Tom Ridge resignation FULL TEXT Transcript and press conference
Secretary Ridge's Letter of Resignation to President Bush (PDF, 1 page - 458 KB)