WASHINGTON – Doug Domenech, U.S. Department of the Interior Assistant Secretary, Insular and International Affairs, congratulated David Bernhardt for becoming the U.S. Department of the Interior’s 53rd Secretary. Bernhardt was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on April 11, 2019, and he took office on the same day. Bernhardt had been serving as acting Secretary of the Interior since January 2, 2019, before which he served as the Department’s Deputy Secretary since being sworn into office on August 1, 2017.
“I applaud the President’s nomination and Senate’s confirmation of Mr. Bernhardt. The continuity of his leadership will provide the Department with stability and beneficial reform and it will provide the people we serve with the commitment to public service they deserve,” said Domenech. “Our new Secretary has a great interest in the U.S. Territories and Freely Associated States. I have known and worked with Secretary Bernhardt for many years, and I admire his incredible work ethic and his passion for public service. He has traveled to the territories and understands the unique issues they face. The Department, its mission, the people it represents, and the resources it protects and manages are in good hands with him at the helm.”
As Secretary of the Interior, Bernhardt leads an agency with more than 70,000 employees who are stewards for 20 percent of the nation’s lands, including national parks, monuments, wildlife refuges and other public lands. The department oversees the responsible development of conventional and renewable energy supplies on public lands and waters, is the largest supplier and manager of water in the 17 Western states, and upholds trust responsibilities to the 573 federally recognized American Indian tribes and Alaska Natives.
The Secretary is also responsible for coordinating federal policy for the territories of American Samoa, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and for administering and overseeing U.S. federal assistance to the freely associated states of the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau under the Compacts of Free Association.
The Assistant Secretary of the Interior, Insular and International Affairs, and the Office of Insular Affairs (OIA) carry out the Secretary’s responsibilities for the U.S. territories of American Samoa, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Additionally, OIA administers and oversees Federal assistance under the Compacts of Free Association to the Federated States of Micronesia, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau. OIA supports the Secretary's mission of Fulfilling Trust and Insular Responsibilities through balancing efforts and limited resources towards stronger economic and health capacities, and fiscal accountability in the U.S. insular areas.