Statement of Bruce Babbitt Secretary of the Interior Before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior and Related Agencies

FEBRUARY 29, 2000

I am pleased to be here today before the Subcommittee on Interior and Related Agencies to present the fiscal year 2001 budget for the Department of the Interior.

When I appeared before you last year at this time, I remarked that the 2000 budget would be the first of the new century and, as such, should be a bold step into the new millennium. At the time I made those comments, I could not have foreseen the outcome of deliberations on the 2000 budget, and the broad, bipartisan agreements that were reached on common goals for land protection, Indian self-determination, and stewardship.

The 2001 budget I am here to discuss today builds on our collective good works. This is a visionary budget that is designed to benefit all Americans with a focus on three areas: enhancing opportunities for Native Americans; protecting great places and building stronger communities through Lands Legacy; and taking care of what we have.

Budget Overview

The Department's 2001 request for appropriations is $9.2 billion, an increase of $979.9 million above the amounts provided in 2000. An estimated $2.2 billion will be provided in permanent appropriations.

For Department programs that are under the jurisdiction of the Subcommittee, the request for annual appropriations is $8.4 billion, an increase of $946.2 million above the levels provided in the 2000 Interior and Related Agencies Appropriations Act. The budget also includes a 2000 supplemental request of $110.8 million for emergency contingency fire costs and the highest priority damages caused by Hurricanes Floyd, Dennis and Irene.

The First Americans: Stewardship, Investment, Hope

In his July 1999 visit to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, President Clinton increased America's awareness of the critical needs in Indian Country. The President's visit and his imperative to "begin this new century by honoring our historic responsibility to empower the first Americans" signal a commitment to support Indian self-determination and the government-to-government relationship with Indian Nations. The 2001 budget proposes $9.4 billion across the government for Native American programs. Within the Department of the Interior, the budget proposes $2.2 billion for BIA programs that will honor our responsibilities and empower the first Americans. The budget provides the largest increase ever for school construction and addresses priorities identified by the Tribes themselves, including: safe communities, improved housing, adequate educational facilities, and sound management of trust resources.

The Federal government has a unique and historical responsibility for the education of over 50,000 Indian children. BIA operates 185 day and boarding schools, many of which are located on remote and isolated reservations. BIA's 2001 request includes $300.5 million for education construction, repair, and maintenance programs, an increase of 126 percent over the amount provided for these programs in 2000. This increase is needed to replace and repair facilities that have serious health and safety deficiencies and to provide Indian children with the basic resources that are critical to student learning. To address school operations needs, the 2001 budget includes $506.6 million for operation of schools, an increase of $39.7 million over 2000. This increase in funding includes $6.8 million for the Family and Child Education Program to improve children's readiness for school and adult literacy, and $8.2 million for a pilot therapeutic treatment program that will focus on the needs of high-risk students at boarding schools.

In 1997, we worked with Attorney General Janet Reno and developed a four-year initiative in collaboration with tribal leaders to combat rising crime rates in Indian Country. As a result of this initiative we are seeing real progress. Over the past two years BIA and the Justice Department have hired additional officers and investigators, are replacing dilapidated detention centers, strengthening tribal court systems, and improving programs for at-risk children. The 2001 budget includes increases of $18.8 million for BIA to continue this initiative and strengthen core law enforcement functions, upgrade radio systems, and improve detention center services. The Department of Justice is requesting an increase of $81.8 million to support tribal law enforcement programs.

Over 100,000 Indian families are in desperate need of better housing but cannot qualify for assistance through the Department of Housing and Urban Development because they cannot meet minimum income requirements. The 2001 budget doubles funding for the Housing Improvement Program, requesting an increase of $16.3 million for housing repairs, replacement, and renovation.

The 2001 budget includes an increase of $4.0 million to implement fundamental changes to BIA's internal management and administrative systems based on recommendations of the National Academy of Public Administration. Funding will be used to address highest priority improvements at central and field office locations that will strengthen planning, budgeting, finance, human resources, and information resources management.

Early in this Administration I made a commitment to resolve the decades-old trust fund management issue and promised to fix it on my watch. Last spring I asked for your help in providing funding to solve this problem. You saw fit to fully fund our budget request for the Office of the Special Trustee in 2000, and as a result, we are making progress in implementing much-needed reform efforts. Conversion of individual Indian accounts to the new trust fund accounting system will be completed by May. We have piloted the Trust Asset and Accounting Management System in one location and we expect to begin deploying the land title functions of the system to other locations this April.

The 2001 budget includes a comprehensive proposal to continue ongoing trust management improvements, institute permanent and lasting changes in trust management functions in BIA, and resolve land ownership fractionation, which is one of the root causes of trust management problems. I want to thank this Subcommittee for the interest and fortitude it has regularly displayed in assisting us to tackle one of the most formidable and critical management issues in all of government. The reforms in this area continue to be my highest management priority for the Department.

A total of $58.4 million is requested for trust management improvements under the Office of the Special Trustee in 2001. This is a reduction of $6.9 million from 2000, reflecting one-time computer acquisition costs. The 2001 budget requests a $35.1 million increase for BIA trust management functions, including real estate services, probate, cadastral surveys, and land titles and records programs. These increases are absolutely crucial to ensure that the trust management improvements we are implementing are institutionalized and maintained in the long term. The 2001 budget also includes $12.5 million to expand the Indian Land Consolidation program. In 1999, BIA implemented a pilot program on three reservations in Wisconsin and by the end of 2000 will have acquired over 36,000 fractional interests in allotted Indian lands. The 2001 request will allow us to acquire up to 40,000 additional fractional interests.

While the Department is well underway in reforming our trust fund management systems, we also need to examine the past to ascertain whether income for IIM accountholders was properly credited, maintained and distributed to and from their IIM accounts. We will publish shortly a Federal Register notice to gather information from IIM account beneficiaries and the public to determine the most reasonable methods for providing account holders with information to evaluate their accounts and determining whether there are discrepancies due to past management practices. Before doing so, however, we will seek an order from the Judge in the Cobell litigation authorizing the Department to communicate with the plaintiff class.

Lands Legacy

One of America's most cherished icons, President Theodore Roosevelt, understood the compelling need for land protection and embraced a visionary, long-term approach to conservation that led to creation of the first national wildlife refuge at Pelican Island in Florida and designation of the Grand Canyon as a National Monument. President Roosevelt believed that we must work together to leave this land "an even better land for our descendents than it is for us."

Based on the idea that we need to reinvest in the preservation and renewal of resources, the Land and Water Conservation Fund provides a secure source of funding for land acquisition. On an annual basis $900 million is deposited into the Fund, primarily from Outer Continental Shelf rents and royalties, for acquisition. In practice we have diverted much of the Fund to deficit reduction. The Lands Legacy proposal makes good on the promise Congress made in 1964 when it created the Land and Water Conservation Fund. The President's budget, by creating a new budget category, would end this practice. Funds could only be spent on Lands Legacy programs and could no longer be diverted to other priorities.

The first step in creating a legacy for our children is the identification and protection of pristine peaks, unspoiled beaches, and verdant prairies. In many of these places we have a one-time opportunity to preserve the matchless wonders of nature before they fall victim to development. With ever-widening opportunities to communicate through the internet and via satellite, the geographic barriers that once limited access to wide open spaces no longer exist, and it is becoming more and more difficult to find these pristine, unspoiled landscapes. Not surprisingly, many of our prized parks, refuges, public lands, and open spaces that provide recreation and other benefits for local communities are now at the borders of suburbia and are being impacted by encroaching development. We are fortunate to have within our grasp the right economic conditions and public support to take action now. It is our imperative. If we do not, our children will wonder why we squandered an opportunity to leave a permanent and lasting legacy. Will Rogers said it best: "Invest in land - they're not making any more."

The President's Lands Legacy Initiative builds on our 2000 achievements and expands efforts to preserve America's great places. The 2001 budget includes $1.4 billion for Lands Legacy government-wide and $735.0 million for Department of the Interior programs. A new budget category is proposed to provide dedicated, protected discretionary funding for this initiative. In this request only the Federal acquisition and State Conservation Grant programs will be funded from the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

The 2001 budget requests $450.0 million for Federal land acquisition, including $320.0 million for acquisition programs in the Department. Funding will be used to complete purchases in the California desert and continue acquisition of Civil War battlefields, the Florida Everglades, the Lewis and Clark Trail, and the Northern Forest. In addition to these areas, the 2001 budget requests funding for the New York Ñ New Jersey watershed where acquisition will protect the last vestiges of wetlands and uplands that serve as stopover sites for migratory birds and buffer refuges from the impacts of rapidly growing suburbs. Proposed acquisitions in the Lower Mississippi Delta will protect areas that are rich in cultural, historical and ecological values, and vital to our continued efforts to restore wildlife and fisheries. In Southern California acquisition will protect unique ecosystem types and endangered species, archeological finds and fossil deposits, and expand community access to recreational opportunities and outstanding scenery.

Land acquisition is a key component to many of our landscape-scale restoration initiatives. Restoration of the South Florida ecosystem is one of the most significant environmental initiatives of our lifetime. Historically, this ecosystem contained some of the most diverse habitats on earth, but deprived of sufficient water supplies it can no longer support a diverse array of wildlife. The 2001 request for land acquisition includes $80.0 million for acquisition in South Florida and the Everglades. Of this amount $47.0 million is for a matching grant to the State of Florida to continue acquisition for restoration purposes. The request also includes $33.0 million that will be used to complete acquisition of Big Cypress National Park and Preserve and to add 1,870 acres to national wildlife refuges to preserve habitat that is critical to wildlife and important to ongoing restoration efforts.

As we continue acquisitions to safeguard our national parks, refuges, and public lands that will preserve the magnificent views of Yellowstone's Grand Canyon and the Grand Tetons, we must also be attentive to the needs for open space in our own backyards. The public is demanding that we tend to the small parcels and pockets of open space that provide recreational opportunities, reduce suburban sprawl, and revitalize urban areas. In New Jersey voters have been able to secure a multi-year commitment for funds to acquire these important green spaces and are looking for a partnership commitment from the Federal government. The 2001 budget includes $150.0 million, funded from the Land and Water Conservation Fund, for State Conservation Grants. Funded for the first time since 1995, the 2000 appropriation included $41 million for this program. Using these grants, communities will leverage resources and acquire open spaces and develop outdoor recreation areas. In the past, these grants have been used by states and communities to acquire areas such as Point Dune State Beach in California. This locally operated park 18 miles west of Santa Monica features cliffs, secluded coves and tidal pools, and its headlands offer views of migrating California gray whales between November and May.

The Urban Parks and Recreation Recovery program creates and renews close-to-home recreation opportunities that strengthen economically distressed urban communities and positively impact at-risk youth and the safety of our cities. The 2001 budget request includes $20.0 million that will be used to enhance urban park and recreation areas that have deteriorated to the point where health and safety are endangered. Grants will be provided to state and local governments that will leverage grant funding with public and private sources, building local support and commitment for the protection and management of neighborhood parks. For the first time since 1995, the Congress provided funding for this program, appropriating $2.0 million in 2000. Grants will be allocated to sponsor projects such as Indianapolis's Youth Conservation Corps, a program in which inner-city youth renovated a neighborhood park and constructed an ecological pond utilizing funds provided by area businesses.

The 2001 budget requests $65.0 million, an increase of $42.0 million for grants to states and local governments to conserve species through the Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund. This program provides communities with flexible approaches and resources to use in resolving the conflicting demands caused by economic growth, increasing population, and declining habitat. Through the development of Habitat Conservation Plans, implementation of candidate conservation agreements, safe harbor agreements, and other means these communities are able to assure the protection of imperiled species and assist in their recovery.

Since 1991, the FWS has worked in partnership with Canada, Mexico, State and local governments, farmers and other private landowners, Tribes, and non-profit conservation groups to conserve wetlands through the North American Wetlands Conservation Fund. Nearly 13 million acres of wetlands and associated uplands in Canada and the U.S. have been protected, and an additional 25 million acres in Mexico have benefited from similar conservation actions. A total of $727 million has been provided by partners to match the $288 million provided from the Fund in support of these projects. The 2001 budget includes $30.0 million, an increase of $15.0 million over 2000, to restore breeding grounds, resting and over-wintering areas for waterfowl and migratory species and wetland dependent wildlife. In combination with partnership contributions, this request translates into a minimum of $60 million in wetlands restoration projects and associated benefits.

The 2001 request for Lands Legacy includes $100.0 million for a State Non-Game Wildlife Grants program. Through this program funds will be provided to States, Tribes, and territories for activities that will conserve and restore non-game species including planning, monitoring and conducting inventories, restoring habitat, acquiring land, and increasing opportunities for non-game wildlife recreation. This program will address non-game species protection and restoration needs that have not been addressed through existing programs and will respond to public demand for increased access to non-game recreational opportunities. An estimated 62.9 million nature enthusiasts currently spend over $29.2 billion a year in pursuit of these activities. Projects will include restoring habitats favored by songbirds and other non-game species and protection of key stopover points for migratory songbirds.

The Department is committed to providing relevant science to decision-makers at all levels of government and strengthening their ability to protect valuable natural resources, identify optimal lands for acquisition, design effective land use and development strategies, develop efficient transportation systems, and mitigate natural hazards. A $50.0 million State Planning Partnerships program in the USGS 2001 budget will provide State and local decision-makers and Federal resource managers with geospatial data, earth science information, and tools such as GIS. This request includes $10.0 million for an expanded Urban Dynamics Program to assist city and regional land use planners in developing plans for community growth that will resolve potential land use conflicts. The State Planning Partnerships proposal also includes $10.0 million for predictive modeling and decision support systems for Federal and State natural resource managers to improve their effectiveness. Finally, $30.0 million is requested to work collaboratively with local communities, States, and others to improve data sharing and access to spatial data and maps. These funds would be made available to local communities through competitive matching grants and other cooperative agreements under the Community/Federal Information Partnership program. Efforts sponsored by the Federal Geographic Data Committee, such as the Cooperative Agreements Program, and other efforts such as the Ohio View project, have demonstrated the usefulness of information sharing among Federal, State, and local organizations and universities for decision-making purposes.

Taking Care of What We Have

During my tenure as Secretary, we have worked diligently with the Subcommittee to strengthen and rebuild the operational programs of the land management agencies. Despite budget cutbacks and limitations in discretionary appropriations, a constant theme in negotiations on the budget has been to take care of what we have and uphold our responsibility for stewardship of the land, natural resources, and facilities.

Since 1993, we have grown the operating accounts of the National Park Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, and Bureau of Land Management by $851.1 million, or 43 percent. This compares to the 19 percent growth rate for appropriations for the Department of the Interior in this same time period. These operational funding increases have been focused on building bench strength in the field and improving the delivery of programs to the public and not on building a bureaucracy. We have maximized efficiency by working collaboratively with our partners, encouraging volunteerism, fostering programs like the Youth Conservation Corps, and holding Federal staffing to the minimum required. Consider that the 2001 budget increases staffing by only two percent while the increase in funding is 12 percent. Even with the increases sought in this budget, the Department's staffing will be more than 10 percent below our 1993 base.

The 2001 budget continues this theme of taking care of our operational programs with increases totaling $214.3 million for the land management agencies in order to safeguard the integrity of the Nation's parks, refuges, and public lands. Funding is targeted to address operational needs, resolution of specific land management issues, and repair and rehabilitation of facilities.

Bureau of Land Management. Over the last decade, BLM has transformed itself into a model of multiple use management, emphasizing conservation while protecting the access rights of a diverse group of customers. The budget proposes a $76.5 million increase in the bureau's primary operating accounts to continue and expand its quiet successes including: collaboration with 24 independent Resource Advisory Councils to bring about changes to livestock grazing practices and applying new standards to conserve western lands; implementing the Northwest Forest Plan in order to allow for timber production while protecting sensitive species; and fulfilling a vision for preservation of public lands such as the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah and the Headwaters Forest Reserve in California.

The designation of monument status recognizes the biological, archeological, and geological significance of areas that stand out from the landscape because of exceptional beauty, and geographic and historical value. In 1908 Teddy Roosevelt designated the first monument, the Grand Canyon. The Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument protects the entryway to the Grand Canyon and extends protection for the deep canyons, mountains, and isolated buttes that extend from the Canyon along the Colorado River plateau. Clearly, President Roosevelt recognized the need to protect the Grand Canyon, but even he could not have anticipated the need to extend protection to the surrounding area and the urgency driven by population expansion and development that is transforming so much of the western landscape.

Arising from this series of designations is a newly emerging BLM conservation system, that alongside national parks and national wildlife refuges, will constitute an enduring part of our public land heritage. Establishing a new model for conservation, our management of these areas will maintain traditional relationships with the surrounding communities. At Grand Staircase Escalante we responded to the challenge by Governor Leavitt and the communities of southern Utah, agreeing that visitor centers and other visitor service facilities could be located in surrounding communities to continue the historical link between the landscape and community life.

Improved management of national monuments, national conservation areas, wild and scenic river corridors, and other places are a focus of BLM's 2001 budget. An increase of $16.0 million will allow BLM to focus on stabilizing and restoring existing resources and enhancing recreational and educational opportunities at officially designated areas. Funding for the three new monuments, Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument, Agua Fria National Monument, and California Coastal National Monument is included in this request.

The 2001 budget also includes an increase of $19.0 million to improve land use planning and begin a multi-year process to update resource management plans. This planning effort will allow the bureau to be more responsive to use authorization requests and ensure sustainable use. Another land management priority that is addressed in BLM's budget request is $9.0 million to tackle one of the most difficult management issues Ñ the explosive growth of wild horses. Today's herds are almost 75 percent above appropriate herd management levels and populations continue to increase at about 20 percent per year. BLM is proposing to increase removals, adoptions, and gelding and, where necessary, implement a long-term strategy to reach appropriate herd management levels by 2005.

National Park Service. Careful stewardship of National parks is essential to protect scenic vistas and cultural resources, mitigate the effects of air and water pollution, and support fish and wildlife populations, while accommodating increasing visitor use. The 2001 budget includes an increase of $90.3 million for operation of the National Park Service. Included within this request is $24.0 million for special park increases to address specific program needs at 72 parks, three trails, and for the U.S. Park Police. Funds will be directed to parks with new responsibilities, priority operations and maintenance needs, and to improve the visitor experience. Examples of specific park increases include improving the employee safety program at Yosemite National Park in California; operating a new information plaza at Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona; and improving cultural and natural resource management at the Tallgrass Prairie National Park, Kansas.

The operational increase for NPS also includes $18.0 million for the Natural Resource Challenge, a five-year program launched in 2000 to improve the management of natural resources in parks. Funding is requested to accelerate efforts to acquire basic data on natural resources and monitor the condition of parks. Funding will be used for control of invasive species in 13 parks to restore healthy, functioning ecosystems and to initiate water quality monitoring at 12 networks of parks. At the Great Smoky Mountains National Park efforts to control alien species of plants and fish that are destroying native vegetation and habitat will be increased. Parks will restore habitat for endangered and threatened species, including two endangered nesting birds at Haleakala National Park in Hawaii, and foxes faced with extinction at Channel Islands National Park in California.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The 521 unit National Wildlife Refuge system is a national network of lands and waters devoted to the conservation, management, and restoration of fish, wildlife, and plants. This system of over 93 million acres is important to the long-term survival and restoration of the nation's wild resources providing important breeding, feeding, and stopover areas for migratory birds; nursery areas for important commercial and sport fisheries; and refugia for native plant species. Approximately 34 million visitors enjoy wildlife watching, photography, hiking, educational programs, and other activities on refuges. The 2001 budget includes an increase of $19.9 million for refuge projects that will protect wildlife, improve habitat, and provide improved educational opportunities for the public. This request continues our efforts to be stewards of the refuge system. Since 1996, we have increased funding for refuge operations and maintenance by $113 million or 67 percent.

One of our greatest successes is the creation of flexible and innovative programs that make the Endangered Species Act work for people and wildlife. We have developed a conservation framework that utilizes habitat conservation planning, safe harbor agreements, candidate conservation agreements, and other programs in order to permit sound economic development and protect imperiled species. Examples of our specific accomplishments include:

  • Candidate conservation agreements in the southwest have kept species including the Pecos pupfish and Arizona bugbane off the endangered species list.

  • Streamlining the Section 7 consultation process for timber sales in the Pacific Northwest has reduced timeframes by 50 percent.

  • Habitat conservation plans have been put in place that protect salmon and bull trout.

  • The gray wolf and California condor have been reintroduced and are flourishing. A recent Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling eliminates the threat of removal for the Yellowstone wolves and their offspring.

  • Bald eagle populations are proposed for downlisting from endangered to threatened.

The 2001 budget includes $115.3 million for the endangered species program, an increase of $7.0 million. Funding will be used to develop 42 candidate conservation agreements, work on 550 habitat conservation plans, consider an additional 27 species reclassifications and delisting actions, and develop an additional 10 safe harbor agreements. These varied programs offer a full range of alternatives to states, local governments, and communities for conservation of species and resolution of competing demands.

The protection of refuge lands, endangered and threatened species, and migratory birds demands the vigilance and skills of a cadre of law enforcement officers that are trained in the latest techniques in detection and interdiction of wildlife violators. The 2001 budget includes an increase of $12.6 million to better train and equip FWS law enforcement personnel and expand the agent work force to defend wildlife against criminals that are becoming increasingly sophisticated and well equipped.

Title VIII of the Alaska National Interests Lands Conservation Act protects the subsistence harvest rights of rural residents of Alaska. For these Alaskans, subsistence harvests form the foundation for a way of life and are essential for meeting economic, social, and cultural needs. To uphold our responsibilities to provide a priority for subsistence uses, the budget includes $12.9 million for the Department to fully implement the court-ordered Federal takeover of the subsistence fisheries program in Alaska. In addition, the Forest Service is requesting $5.5 million for its program responsibilities. The Department's request includes $5.4 million for program management and coordination and $7.5 million for resource and harvest monitoring. We will utilize the expertise of the State, Native organizations, and others and contract with them for resource and harvest monitoring.

This Subcommittee has been very supportive of our efforts to adequately budget for our uncontrollable costs. On an annual basis we incur increased costs as a result of pay rate increases, rising costs for retirement benefits, and the charges passed onto us for workers' compensation, unemployment compensation and space rental costs. For 2001 these "hidden costs" total $141.7 million and would have to be absorbed by the operational programs if funds are not provided. Part of our efforts to take care of what we have includes making sure we do not have to absorb these costs and adversely affect our ability to manage and maintain lands, resources, and facilities.

Safe Visits

The Department manages an extensive infrastructure of administrative and public use buildings, housing, roads and trails, dams, bridges, water and wastewater systems, schools, laboratories, and other facilities.

Some of these facilities are over 100 years old and many are located in remote locations.

With the encouragement of Chairman Regula and this Subcommittee, the Department instituted a comprehensive Safe Visits to Public Lands initiative to bring consistency and accountability to management of the Department's infrastructure, and to focus funding on the highest priority maintenance and construction needs. We will soon provide the Subcommittee with a comprehensive report on the status of projects funded in 1999.

The 2001 request for Safe Visits is $1.2 billion, an increase of $134.6 million or 13 percent, over 2000. The budget includes $570.3 million for maintenance and $601.3 million for construction to accelerate repairs to Indian schools, replace six Indian schools, repair and replace facilities in parks, refuges and other Interior properties. Included within the request is $9.2 million to conduct condition assessments on a five-year cycle. These condition assessments will establish a baseline of current conditions of facilities and provide a thorough evaluation of repair and rehabilitation needs. The budget also includes $4.3 million to continue the development and implementation of maintenance management systems that will provide reliable, consistent information to facilities managers.

Other Programs

The 2001 request continues Outer Continental Shelf regulatory and environment research programs that limit negative consequences that could result from exploration and production in sensitive offshore lands. The 2001 budget request for MMS programs totals $130.2 million. These MMS programs also collect revenues that finance one-half of the costs of the Department's programs.

Through the Abandoned Mine Reclamation Fund we provide grants to states and Tribes to reclaim previously mined lands. On an annual basis this program restores approximately 9,000 acres to productive use and reduces threats to public health and safety. An increase of $15.3 million from the Fund will allow the reclamation of an additional 1,000 acres. Of this increase, $2.0 million will be available for the Appalachian Clean Streams initiative. This program brings together Federal and local resources to restore stream habitat and water quality by reducing acid mine drainage, and thereby improving water quality for local communities and restoring habitat for species such as the Appalachian brook trout. With this increase, an estimated 46 new projects will be initiated.

Finally, I ask that you consider operational needs for other Departmental priorities including the Solicitor's Office, our new Inspector General, and Departmental Management. For these offices, we are requesting uncontrollable cost increases and funding for ongoing litigation support provided by the Solicitor's Office, to expand the capability of the IG's audit and investigation function, and for Departmental Offices to address important needs in electronic data security and improved financial accountability.

This concludes my prepared statement. I will be happy to answer any questions you may have.