Interior Nominations

Nomination of Mark Lee Greenblatt to be Interior Inspector General

Statement by
Mark L. Greenblatt
Nominee for Inspector General of the
United States Department of the Interior
Before the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources
United States Senate

May 2, 2019

Thank you, Chairman Murkowski, Ranking Member Manchin, and Members of the Committee. It is an honor to appear before you as the nominee to serve as the Inspector General of the Department of the Interior.

At the outset, I would like to thank my family, friends, and colleagues, many of whom are here today, for their support:

  • My colleagues, who constantly inspire me with their intelligence, sound judgment, good humor, and work ethic;
  • My mother, who passed away 31 years ago yesterday, and my father, who is here with us today, both of whom instilled in me the value of honesty, integrity, and hard work from a young age;
  • My wife Jana, who has been a wellspring of support for the past 19 years; and
  • Lastly, my two boys, Micah and Levi, who are energetic—and sometimes well-behaved—reminders of why we are all here: to improve our country for future generations.

The desire to improve our country drove me to dedicate my career to public service. In that vein, I have spent the last 16 years uncovering waste, fraud, and abuse in the Federal Government.

I started my public service right here in the U.S. Senate, conducting oversight for the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations (PSI), where I served under the leadership of former Senators Norm Coleman and Carl Levin – strong role models who ran exhaustive, apolitical investigations that sought to uncover the truth and bring about positive change.

After almost 6 years at PSI, I joined the special investigations unit of the Department of Justice OIG. Then after 5 years at Justice, I moved to the Department of Commerce OIG, first as the Director of Special Investigations and later the Assistant Inspector General for Investigations. Currently, as the Acting Executive Director of the Council of Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency (CIGIE), I am leading initiatives for the entire OIG community. The Council’s core mission is to support all the Federal inspectors general, bolstering their independence and addressing important challenges confronting the IG community.

Over the years, I have led or supervised hundreds of inquiries involving a variety of Federal agencies, including the Justice Department, FBI, DEA, the Patent and Trademark Office, Census Bureau, and NOAA, as well as Fortune 500 companies and the United Nations. These matters have included high-profile investigations into the highest-ranking officials in our agencies, and run the gamut of misconduct, from conflicts of interest to misuse of office, from whistleblower retaliation to revolving door violations, from nepotism to contract and grant fraud.

I take great pride in the fact that, throughout my career, investigations under my watch have been conducted in a fair, objective, and independent fashion that uncovered the truth and effected positive change, even under highly politicized and challenging circumstances.

In one case, we investigated allegations of misconduct in a Census Bureau office. The atmosphere there had grown toxic - witnesses were scared, and whistleblowers were threatened. In fact, one subject, while cutting a cake at an office party, moved the knife up and down in a stabbing motion and said, “This is for the ones who went to the OIG.”

Our investigation ultimately uncovered extensive abuses, including roughly 40 employees who falsely claimed to work nearly 20,000 hours—amounting to more than $1 million stolen from the taxpayers. We also found a variety of other misconduct, like multiple cases of employees misusing their position to hire their friends and family. As a result of our report, the Census Bureau disbanded the unit, implemented substantial changes, and proceeded to fire or discipline many of those employees.

That investigation is particularly gratifying to me because it exemplifies the impact an IG can have on its agency—by uncovering misconduct, by holding officials accountable, by protecting vulnerable whistleblowers, and by empowering the agency to make necessary reforms.

Producing that type of positive change is what I love about serving in the IG community.

Therefore, it is an honor to be nominated to be an Inspector General, particularly at an agency with such far-reaching impact as the Department of the Interior. Interior is responsible for some of the most pressing issues facing our country, such as:

  • Enhancing our energy security;
  • Managing our vast public lands and natural resources;
  • Protecting endangered species; and
  • Meeting our responsibilities to our native American communities.

Simply put, the Department touches the lives of every American in significant ways. That includes my own family. Several months ago, I took the boys with my father to the battlefields at Antietam and Gettysburg. Walking around Cemetery Hill, Devil’s Den, Burnside Bridge, and the Sunken Road, we discussed those pivotal moments in American history and stories of selfsacrifice and leadership. Months later, we still talk about what Joshua Chamberlain and his boys from Maine did to hold the crucial left flank on Little Round Top, what it meant for this country, and what we can learn from it all these years later. Those were meaningful experiences for us, all made possible by the Department’s efforts to preserve our national parks.

So, I would be especially honored to contribute to this important mission and lead the OIG’s dedicated professionals as DOI’s Inspector General. If confirmed, I would strive to be an agent of positive change, focusing on eliminating fraud, waste, and abuse, and making constructive recommendations to Interior's leadership, all designed to make the Department the best it can be. I would also maintain strong relations with Congress. In light of my tenure conducting oversight for this very body, the significance of that relationship resonates with me on a personal level.

Thank you for your consideration of my nomination and, if confirmed, I look forward to working with you toward our common goal of making our country better now and for future generations.

Thank you, and I look forward to answering your questions.

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