CHICAGO (AP) – President-elect Barack Obama intends to name former Securities and Exchange Commissioner Mary Schapiro to head the much-criticized agency and wants to install GOP Rep. Ray LaHood of Illinois as transportation secretary, Democratic officials said Tuesday.

Schapiro, who currently heads a nongovernment regulatory group for securities firms, is also a former head of the Commodities Futures Trading Commission and former member of the SEC.

She has been appointed to government posts by two Republicans presidents and one Democratic chief executive.

If confirmed, she would take over an agency that has been criticized for failing to detect signs of trouble on Wall Street, where enormous losses by banks have contributed heavily to the current financial crisis.

Obama was expected to make her appointment official on Wednesday.

It was not clear when the president-elect intended to formally announce his selection of LaHood, a 14-year veteran of the House who would become the second Republican to join the Cabinet-in-the-making.

The officials who described the selections did so on condition of anonymity, saying they were not authorized to discuss personnel matters not yet made public.

With a two-week vacation in Hawaii beckoning, Obama is stepping up the pace of his appointments.

Earlier in the day, he named former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack as agriculture secretary and Colorado Sen. Ken Salazar of Colorado to head the Interior Department.

They, like LaHood and Schapiro, will require Senate confirmation before they can take their positions in the new administration.

Additionally, officials disclosed that Dr. Gail Russeau, a Chicago neurosurgeon, is a leading contender to become surgeon general.

Schapiro has spent her career in the securities field.

She is currently the head of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, which describes itself on its Web Site as the largest non-governmental regulator for all securities firms doing business with the U.S. public.

Two decades ago, President Ronald Reagan named her commissioner of the SEC, and she was reappointed by President George H.W. Bush and then named acting chair by President Bill Clinton.

Clinton also tapped her as head of the Commodities Futures Trading Commission, a regulatory agency.

AP-ES-12-17-08 1919EST

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