Mr. Chairman, Senator Sarbanes, and distinguished Members of the Committee, thank you for the opportunity to appear before you today. I would also like to thank Senators Hutchison and Bond for their generous introductions.
Let me express my thanks to President Bush and Secretary Martinez for selecting me for this important job. I am deeply honored by the trust and confidence they have placed in me by nominating me as Deputy Secretary for the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Mr. Chairman, I was born and raised in Texas, the youngest of twelve children. Although my father had only a 5th grade education and my mother an 11th grade education, they made sure that all of their children received a good education. I am here because of my parentsí love and devotion and the lessons that they taught my siblings and me. They stressed to us that with a good education and a strong work ethic, there was nothing that we could not accomplish in this world. No mountain would be too steep and no road too long.
That is one reason why I spent 6 years of my early career as a public school administrator and a university professor, helping to educate others.
My interest and expertise in urban law and housing issues led me to a career in public service. I have been told that I am the first candidate for Deputy Secretary of HUD who has experience both in the field of public housing and in the field of community development.
I have run three major urban public housing authorities: St. Louis, Washington, and most recently, Dallas. This experience has given me insight into the needs of public housing authorities and how HUD relates to them. It has also given me ideas about how to improve HUDís oversight of these authorities so that they can provide better services to those families living in public housing.
Having chaired two community development block grant agencies Ė one in St. Louis and the other here in Washington, DC Ė I have also had extensive experience with that side of HUDís mission. I have been able to see HUD grants go to these urban areas. HUD has played an important role in the recent rejuvenation of American cities and I look forward to seeing HUD continue working in partnership with local governments to improve the quality of life for American families.
My private sector experience has taught me about the importance of management to a successful enterprise. I have spent the last five years working in the private sector in Texas, most recently as the President of American Electric Power-TEXAS, where I was responsible for the management and operations of a nearly 11-billion-dollar company with 2,800 employees and over 900,000 customers.
My management style emphasized professionalism at all levels of the company. I believe in setting high expectations and holding managers and workers accountable. This is the kind of environment that I have sought to create in the private sector and I see no reason why we should not expect the same high standards from the employees at HUD. The taxpayers deserve such standards from their public servants, as do those who rely upon HUDís services.
HUD has a long history as a troubled agency. Although the Department has been taken off the General Accounting Officeís "high-risk" list, many of its individual programs are still designated as "high-risk." My top priority as Deputy Secretary will be to assist Secretary Martinez in restoring complete credibility and accountability to HUD. Congress has repeatedly told HUD that it must get its house in order. This administration is listening.
I am aware of the concerns of the GAO and HUDís Inspector General and have studied their reports. If confirmed, I will insist that this agency work in tandem with the GAO and the IGís office to correct the Departmentís problems. We will avoid the adversarial stance that has too often marked HUDís relationship with these offices in the past.
In conclusion, I realize that we have much work ahead of us. HUD has an important mission to accomplish. Many of Americaís neediest families rely on our services. We owe it to them to provide the best possible programs we can in the most effective manner. And we owe it to the American taxpayers to make sure that their tax dollars are being spent efficiently and wisely.
I am a man of optimism. When I see HUD, I see a Department with lots of opportunities to do great things. I see this as a historic opportunity to improve the way HUD manages its programs. The Deputy Secretary functions as the Chief Operating Officer. I see one of the top duties of the Deputy Secretary as helping solve the management problems that have plagued HUD for too long.
If confirmed, I look forward to working with Secretary Martinez and the rest of his team at HUD as we implement this administrationís mission. I also look forward to working in a bipartisan manner with Members of Congress as we meet the challenges before us. As Secretary Martinez said at his confirmation hearing, "our mission at HUD is not a Republican or Democrat mission, but rather an American mission."
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