STATEMENT OF SENATOR JOHN H. CHAFEE
COMMITTEE ON ENVIRONMENT AND PUBLIC WORKS
HEARING ON THE NOMINATION OF
MICHAEL J. ARMSTRONG
JUNE 4, 1997

Good morning. The purpose of today's hearing is to consider the nomination of Michael Armstrong to be Associate Director of Mitigation for the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The President nominated Mr. Armstrong for this position on April 28, and it is my intention that the Committee act expeditiously on his nomination. In fact, the Committee is scheduled to consider Mr. Armstrong's nomination during tomorrow morning's business meeting.

would like to welcome everyone, especially Mr. Armstrong, who is joined by his parents Dermond Armstrong and Joan Armstrong.

Before we proceed, there are several members here who would like to make introductory statements on behalf of Mr. Armstrong: Senator Campbell, Senator Allard, Senator Conrad, Senator Dorgan, Representative Skaggs, and Representative Pomeroy.

I am pleased to report that Michael Armstrong has an impressive background that suits him well to the position before him. For the past three and a half years, he has served as the Director of FEMA Region 8, which includes the States of Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming.

As you can tell by the laudatory introductions you just heard, Mr. Armstrong has done an excellent lob as Region 8 Director. He has assumed tremendous leadership during major disasters, such as the recent floods in North Dakota. Moreover, Mr. Armstrong has done a great deal to encourage public outreach and coordination between federal, State, and local response resources.

FEMA is the central agency within the federal government responsible for emergency planning, preparedness, mitigation, response and recovery. The position for which Mr. Armstrong has been nominated, Associate Director of Mitigation, carries out the policies and programs to eliminate or reduce risks to life and property from natural hazards such as flood, hurricanes and earthquakes.

Federal emergency management has always focused primarily on how to respond to a disaster, after it strikes. We in Congress are no different; almost every year, we pass supplemental emergency appropriations legislation to pay for the additional, unanticipated costs of timely disasters.

FEMA is beginning to place greater emphasis on the mitigation or prevention of long-term risks before the disaster strikes. The purpose of this shift in focus is hopefully to reduce liabilities and ultimately to reduce the cost of disaster response. This appears to be a smart move, and I am eager to learn more about how FEMA will carry out this initiative.

If confirmed, Mr. Armstrong will lead FEMA's efforts in mitigating the risks of natural disasters. This task is not an easy one, but I am confident in Mr. Armstrong'S ability to face the challenge ahead. I look forward to hearing what Mr. Armstrong has to say about his experience and what he hopes to accomplish in the position before him. Thank you.