Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar emphasizes openness and ethical responsibility in remarks to Department employees. The Secretary's remarks were broadcast nationwide to Interior offices and employees.
[Photo Credit: Rick Lewis, NPS]
WASHINGTON, D.C.— Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar gave an enthusiastic address to a packed auditorium of employees on his second day at the Interior Department today, followed by what he expects will be the first of many listening sessions with employees.
“I want to transform this Department from what is perceived as the Department of the West to the Department of all of America,” he told the crowd. “Through our service together we can remake America and change our world.”
“We and those who work with this department will make sure we follow the high ethical standards that President Obama outlined in his first press conference yesterday at the White House,” said Salazar, who, before being elected to the United States Senate, was Colorado's Attorney General and top law enforcement officer. He introduced Chief of Staff Tom Strickland, who served during that same time period as United States Attorney for the state.
“We will follow the law, we will hold people accountable, and we will expect to be held accountable. We will not tolerate the types of lapses that detract and distract from good honest service to the American people that this department does every day,” he said.
“I pledge to you that we will ensure the Interior Department's decisions are based on sound science and the public interest, and not on the special interests. I want the public to be proud of the department's work … Above all, I want you to know that your secretary is proud of you and respects the work you do to serve the American people.”
In the coming weeks, Secretary Salazar said that the Department of the Interior will be an important contributor to the Obama Administration's “moonshot on energy” and in carrying out a “strong economic recovery plan that helps create jobs, build our clean energy economy and remake America.”
The Secretary reminded employees that the department has “a global footprint and indeed very much a footprint in each of our 50 states and each of our territories and insular possessions.”
“The Department and its agencies touch all of the people of America. So whether your job … involves protecting wildlife or issuing leases, preserving history or providing water, I urge you to think of your mission as part of a mission of a new Department of America, this Department of the Interior.” He noted his openness to ideas about how the department can serve as a model for national service.
His personal values of public service and stewardship are rooted in the land, growing from four centuries of family ranching in the San Luis Valley of Colorado “The sustainability of our family ranch depended on how we took care of the land and water.”
Salazar was confirmed on January 20 by a unanimous vote in the U.S. Senate to become the 50th Secretary of the Interior.