President Bush has taken the first steps toward a major reform of U.S. intelligence gathering. It is part of an effort to repair intelligence failures surrounding the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States.

Reforming the intelligence community will be a difficult, lengthy and perhaps controversial process.

Most of the work will be done by Congress, which will have to rewrite existing laws governing the intelligence community.

But with the White House feeling public pressure for action, President Bush is doing what he can to implement change using his executive authority.

On Friday, he signed a series of measures that set the stage for what could be a comprehensive reform package.

He took action to better coordinate the work of the various intelligence agencies run by the U.S. government. Mr. Bush said, for the time being, the central intelligence director will be given enhanced authority over all their operations. In time, according to White House officials, that power will pass to the newly created post of national intelligence director.

The commission that investigated the September 11 attacks championed the idea of a national intelligence director. Mr. Bush's rival for the presidency - Democrat John Kerry - has already endorsed the idea.

White House officials say the decision to give enhanced powers to the CIA director on an interim basis will strengthen the foundation for reform. Other executive orders signed Friday by the president further the reform process by creating a new National Counterterrorism Center, and improving information sharing among intelligence agencies.

Congress is expected to take up the issue of intelligence reform when it returns to work in early September. Senators will also decide whether to approve the president's nomination of Congressman Porter Goss to be the new head of the CIA. Mr. Goss, a Republican from Florida, until recently served as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.