Nomination of P. Lynn Scarlett to be Deputy Secretary of the Interior
Statement of P. Lynn Scarlett
Nominee for the position of
of the Department of the Interior
Before the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources
United States Senate
March 9, 2005
Mr. Chairman, Senator Bingaman, and members of the Committee, I am honored to appear before you today as the President's nominee for Deputy Secretary of the Department of the Interior. I have been privileged, these past four years, to serve as Assistant Secretary of Policy, Management and Budget at the Department—a position with responsibilities that span the entire Department and its eight bureaus. I have experienced both the challenges and opportunities of helping the Secretary of the Interior set priorities at a Department that manages one in every five acres of the United States, with a workforce of 70,000 employees who operate at 2,400 locations and maintain some 40,000 facilities.
As manager of over 500 million acres, Interior has a mission that lies at the confluence of people, land, and water. How well we do our job at Interior affects whether:
As this Nation's premier land manager, our mission inevitably places us amid conflict as different people have diverse aspirations for these public lands. As guardian of thousands of buildings, roads, trails, research facilities, and scientific systems, our mission also triggers many basic management challenges.
What is our compass in tackling these responsibilities? Three themes have underpinned our efforts over the past four years.
First is an emphasis on partnered problem solving and cooperative conservation so that our decisions sustain healthy lands, thriving communities, and dynamic economies. That focus has set the stage for multi-state partnerships to protect sage grouse. It underlies the President's Healthy Forests Initiative and the bipartisan Healthy Forests Restoration Act through which reduction of hazardous fuels in forests and on rangelands occurs through collaboration with communities. It lies behind our budget emphasis on cooperative conservation grant programs.
A second theme is our emphasis on balance. Americans want access to outdoor recreation opportunities; they want reliable and affordable energy; they want reliable supplies of clean water; they want to ensure the stewardship of this Nation's phenomenal natural, cultural and historic resources.
Our third theme is management excellence. Though unglamorous and often outside the public eye, how well we manage facilities, financial reporting, information technology, and other basic administrative functions significantly affects our ability to serve the public effectively and efficiently. Four years ago, Congress gave us an "F" for our information technology security. Today, 98 percent of our systems have been certified and accredited for their security practices. Four years ago, it took us four months to close our financial books. This year is took us 45 days after the close of the fiscal year. Four years ago, we had no idea what condition our facilities were in. Today, almost all of our bureaus have completed condition assessments on their thousands of facilities.
Should I be confirmed as Deputy Secretary of the Department of the Interior, I would anticipate maintaining the trajectory set by Secretary Norton over the past four years to enhance cooperative decision making, achieve balance among multiple goals and responsibilities, and modernize our administrative and management practices.
These three themes—cooperation, balance, and management excellence—will inform our decisions to ensure the Nation has access to energy; enjoys clean and sufficient water supplies; and maintains healthy forests. These themes will also continue to underpin our approach to protecting at-risk and endangered species. And, finally, the theme of management excellence is the benchmark against which we are striving to tackle our Indian Trust responsibilities.
My experiences over the past four years as Assistant Secretary of Policy, Management and Budget have deepened my familiarity with Interior's responsibilities. Those experiences have required diplomacy, openness to many voices and perspectives - both within the agency and with the public, ability to grapple with highly diverse and complex issues, and an attention to setting targets and timelines to achieve results. I have tried to bring those qualities to that position. Should I be confirmed as Deputy Secretary, I will strive to apply those qualities to the job.
Thank you. I would be happy to answer any questions.