JULY 30, 1998

Good afternoon. The purpose of today's hearing is to consider two nominations within the Environmental Protection Agency. The first nomination is that of Mr. Romulo L. Diaz, Jr., to be the Assistant Administrator for Administratrion and Resources Management. The second nomination is that of Mr. J. Charles Fox to be the Assistant Administrator for Water.

I am delighted to welcome everyone, particularly our two nominees, Mr. Diaz and Mr. Fox, and I would like to acknowledge the members of their families who are here. Mr. Diaz is accompanied by his parents, Romulo Sr., and Irene Diaz, who have come all the way from Nederland, Texas. Mr. Fox is accompanied by his wife, Ritu Sharma and his parents, Richard and Nancy Fox.

The President nominated Mr. Diaz and Mr. Fox on July 17, and we have received their paperwork in the interim. It is the Committee's intent to act on these nominations at the earliest opportunity after the Senate returns from the August recess.

I am pleased to report that both of the nominees have impressive and diverse backgrounds and are well-suited to the positions before them. Romulo Diaz has served as the Director of the Office of Regulatory Coordination at the U.S. Department of Energy since 1995. In this position, Mr. Diaz has overseen the Department's regulatory reinvention efforts. Prior to 1995, he has served in a number of positions within the Energy Department, including Deputy Chief of Staff and Counselor to the Secretary and Deputy Assistant Secretary of International Affairs. He has represented the United States on a North Atlantic Treaty Organization committee dealing with energy security for the Alliance.

Charles Fox also has an impressive background. Since 1997, he has served the Associate Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. In his current position, he directs the Office of Reinvention, overseeing a number of government reform and reinvention activities. From 1993 to 1995, Mr. Fox was the Assistant Secretary at the Maryland Department of the Environment. From 1993 until 1995, he was the Chief of Staff in EPA's Office of Water, experience which will be invaluable if confirmed. Prior to that time, he served in a number of positions in EPA and in the non profit sector.

For the EPA to perform effectively, it needs to have talented decision makers not only to carry out its core mission of protecting environmental resources, but also to ensure that the agency runs efficiently in carrying out that mission. If confirmed as Assistant Administrator for Water, Mr. Fox will be responsible for keeping the nation's waters clean for fishing and swimming, and safe for drinking. The Assistant Administrator for Water oversees water and drinking water criteria and the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System permits program under the Clean Water Act, and manages a workforce of 2,680 employees and a budget of 2.6 billion dollars.

If confirmed as Assistant Administrator for Administratrion and Resources Management, Mr. Diaz would help manage the Agency as the liason between EPA and the Office of Management and Budget, the Office of Personnel Management, the General Services Administration, and the General Accounting Office. He also would be responsible for agency-wide resources management, facilities services, human resources, audits, administrative services, and procurement. In short, he is responsible for ensuring that the bulk of EPA's budget, which is spent to procure services from the private sector, is spent wisely.

Both positions pose difficult challenges, but I am confident that both Mr. Diaz and Mr. Fox are prepared to face the tasks at hand. I look forward to hearing what today's witnesses have to say about their backgrounds and what they hope to accomplish, if confirmed.

After we hear the statements of Senator Baucus and other Committee members, we will start with Mr. Diaz, and after members have an opportunity to question him, move on to Mr. Fox.