Department of the Interior Budget and Policy Priorities for Fiscal Year 2020
DAVID L. BERNHARDT
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR
HOUSE COMMITTEE ON NATURAL RESOURCES
May 15, 2019
Chairman Grijalva, Ranking Member Bishop, and Members of the Committee, I am here today in my role as the Secretary of the Interior to discuss the Department’s budget and policy priorities for FY 2020.
The President's Fiscal Year 2020 Budget was transmitted to Congress on March I l, 2019. On March 27, 2019, the Department's Principal Deputy for Policy, Management and Budget, Scott Cameron appeared before the Committee and provided the Departmental perspective on the budget.
Since the President's budget was a number of the Department's bureaus have testified before their respective subcommittees of jurisdiction on both budget and policy. On April 3, 2019, Dan Smith, Deputy Director of the National Park Service, testified before the National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands subcommittee on the NPS's FY 2020 budget request and on April 10, 2019, Brian Steed, Deputy Director of the Bureau of Land Management, testified before that subcommittee on the BLM's FY 2020 budget request. Other subcommittee hearings on the FY 2020 request are scheduled for the near future.
Several of our bureaus have also appeared before the Energy and Minerals subcommittee in early March to discuss Departmental policies and priorities under their programs. For example, on March 6, 2019, Walter Cruickshank, Acting Director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and Doug Morris, Chief of Offshore Regulatory Programs, Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement. And on March 12, 2019, Mike Nedd, Deputy Director of the Bureau of Land Management testified on behalf of the BLM.
In those hearings, the Committee and its subcommittees heard and discussed the specific details of the FY 2020 budget submission and Departmental and bureau priorities. As part of my written statement, I am including copies of the testimonies submitted by the Department’s representatives at those hearings.
The President has been clear in his direction to and priorities for the Department. With the overarching goal to support continued economic growth and prosperity, he has expressed his vision to the Department through a series of Executive orders and Presidential memoranda, including:
These documents are the foundation of the Department's policy objectives since the early days of this Administration.
As Secretary, I will work hard to effectuate the President's vision and to strike the right balance of protection and sustainable use of resources in a way that will provide conservation stewardship, enhance the safety of our communities, increase energy security, and allow America to prosper. At the same time, I will strive to meet the Administration’s broader economic objective to manage federal spending with restraint.
We will proceed with the Department's reorganization, including efforts to relocate some operations out West, closer to where assets, acres, and customers are located.
Transformation of the Department's ethics program will remain a key priority for me as Secretary. Since the beginning of this Administration, we have hired a total of 42 career, professional ethics advisors, and by the end of FY 2019 we will have doubled the number of career ethics officials that the previous administration hired in 8 years. I have also directed the Department's Designated Agency Ethics Official to begin the process of consolidating the disparate ethics programs within the Department into one comprehensive Departmental program to create a better functioning and more robust program.
We are working hard to address workplace harassment at the Department of the Interior. We have established a clear anti-harassment policy. We directed each bureau to develop an action plan to address its harassment-related issues, and are tacking their progress in implementing these plans. We launched an internal Workplace Culture Transformation Advisory Council to look at common issues raised in the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey; ways to improve employee engagement; and building career paths that cross bureau silos. We have taken significant action to combat workplace misconduct, but there is more to be done.
The Department has grappled for many years to address deteriorating infrastructure across our bureaus and maintenance backlogs at our national parks, national wildlife refuges, and Bureau of Indian Education schools, and even at our major dams. I am committed to working with Congress to develop a legislative solution to address these important infrastructure needs.
Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member Bishop, this concludes my statement. I will respond to any questions that you may have.