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Witness Panel 1
R. Thomas WeimerDOI
Statement of R. Thomas Weimer
Nominee for the Position of Assistant Secretary for Policy, Management and Budget
of the Department of the Interior
Before the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources
United States Senate
July 14, 2005
Mr. Chairman, Senator Bingaman, and Members of the Committee, it is a privilege and great honor to appear before you today as the President’s nominee to serve as Assistant Secretary for Policy, Management and Budget at the Department of the Interior. President Bush and Secretary Norton have paid me the highest compliment by recommending me for this position.
By way of my background, I was born in Wyoming and raised in Colorado (which I still consider to be my home State); and I have lived and worked in several other western States. While I began my career as an engineer, since first moving to Washington over 20 years ago, I have worked principally on natural resource, energy, and science and technology policy issues. For over a decade, I worked for former Secretary of the Interior Manuel Lujan, Jr., first as a professional staff member and staff director on his committee staffs in the House of Representatives, and then as his Chief of Staff at the Interior Department. In that capacity, I was afforded the opportunity to observe all of the operations of the Interior Department and I learned to appreciate the immense breadth of responsibilities which Departmental executives must collectively administer in providing service to America’s citizens. For the past four years, I have served as the Principal Deputy in the Department’s Water and Science Office, providing management oversight and policy guidance to the Bureau of Reclamation and to the U.S. Geological Survey.
During her tenure, Secretary Norton has led Interior with her vision of achieving healthy lands and waters, thriving communities, and a dynamic economy. Three themes underlie her efforts to accomplish these goals: partnered problem solving, an emphasis on balance, and management excellence. Secretary Norton has established a management framework which all of us on her team operate within, working to accomplish the many diverse missions of the Department and its eight bureaus. She has charged us with executing our responsibilities using collaborative and consultative processes with an emphasis on communicating with the Department’s many stakeholders. I share the Secretary’s vision and management style, and I feel that the two bureaus with which I have worked over the past four years have accomplished a great deal utilizing these principles.
I am deeply honored that President Bush has nominated me for a position that, should the Senate confirm my nomination, will again afford me the opportunity to work on a wide range of Interior’s activities in policy, management, and budget arenas that span the Department and its eight bureaus. In policy, we will continue to develop and implement programs to advance resource protection and use, enhance recreational opportunities, and better serve Interior’s many communities—including those in Indian Country and in the Insular areas. In advancing the President’s Management Agenda, we must place an emphasis on investments that will help Interior work smarter, more efficiently, and more effectively. We will work to improve our budget and performance integration, which lies at the heart of ensuring both the strategic allocation and efficient use of funds. We must continue to improve our financial performance to link planning and budgeting with performance results. We will work to improve our information technology (IT) environment by pursuing an E-government strategy to move from Bureau legacy systems to governmentwide and Departmental solutions. We must continue our efforts in the management of human capital as changing public needs, new technologies, and an aging workforce combine to create new business requirements. We will keep looking at competitive sourcing opportunities to evaluate business practices and develop more effective ways to deliver services. And of course, in the area of budgeting, we will be challenged to accomplish our mission using fiscal constraint. Identifying and funding those activities and programs linked to core Departmental responsibilities affords us the best way to continue to deliver our essential services.
If confirmed, I will work in a bipartisan and cooperative manner with this committee and with all members of the Senate and House. My ten years of service on Committee staffs of the U.S. House of Representatives have given me a deep appreciation for the Constitutional roles and responsibilities of the Legislative Branch, and I respect the need for open dialogue with the Congress to facilitate fulfilling our responsibilities to the American people.
If confirmed as Assistant Secretary for Policy, Management and Budget, it is my commitment to work with Secretary Norton and her management team to ensure the highest standards in stewardship for our lands, waters, and people.
Thank you for this opportunity to appear before you. I would be pleased to try to answer any questions you might have.