Mr. Chairman, Senator Jeffords, and other distinguished members of the Committee, let me offer my appreciation to you for scheduling this hearing.
I would like to thank President Bush for his trust and confidence in nominating me to head the Inspector General's office for TVA. I also extend my thanks to Senator Sessions who sponsored my nomination for this position and who has been both a mentor and a friend over the years. I am fully aware that there are high expectations for the next Inspector General of TVA as this is the first time that an Inspector General for TVA will be appointed by the President. Let me say without equivocation that if I am confirmed to the position, I intend to justify the confidence placed in me by safeguarding the independence that I will have as an Inspector General and by using the knowledge and skills that I have acquired as a federal prosecutor over the last seventeen years.
Mr. Chairman, members of the Committee, I have no illusions about this job. It has been described as one of the toughest jobs in government. That is so because within the job description of Inspector General are what might be considered by some as inherent conflicts. On the one hand, an Inspector General is necessarily a part of the organization he oversees. His objective and independent evaluations and recommendations can be of great value to management. Consequently, there is a natural tendency for any Inspector General to identify with the agency.
On the other hand, an Inspector General will often find that his work brings him into conflict with management. His reports to Congress and to the public may reflect poorly on management and the organization. How he balances this dual role is likely to influence his effectiveness as an Inspector General.
I believe it is imperative that an Inspector General clearly define how he perceives his role. He should never think that he has been appointed to run the organization; yet he should be available to offer advice that may prevent problems in the future. An Inspector General is in a unique position to speak objectively and to be an agent of positive change.
Most importantly, I believe that an Inspector General must never compromise his independence; and even beyond that, he must avoid even the appearance of compromising his independence. I am aware of the history behind the congressional legislation that was enacted to enable the President to appoint the Inspector General at TVA. It is important that the Inspector General for TVA stand his ground on issues of importance, and he must demonstrate genuine respect for both management and their organization in the process. His logic must be compelling on the issues of importance, his facts irrefutable, and his motives pure. If that is the case, he should win the respect of management; and at the end of the day, they should work with him to implement recommendations that he makes.
Mr. Chairman, members of the Committee, I believe that my professional experience as an Assistant United States Attorney has prepared me to assume the role of Inspector General for the Tennessee Valley Authority. At the heart of many of the cases that I have prosecuted over the last seventeen years has been fraud against the United States government. These cases have included bank fraud, income tax evasion, insurance fraud, bid rigging on government contracts, kickbacks to government officials, federal grant money fraud, health care fraud, and racketeering under the federal RICO statute. In all of these cases, the prosecution of the defendants resulted in public disclosure of wrongdoing which was often necessary to restore integrity to the federal program involved. In many cases, we were able to forfeit the defendant's assets in order to make restitution to the government.
The complexity of the work at the Tennessee Valley Authority involves many challenges and risks for the organization. Like many organizations, TVA is vulnerable to fraud because of the magnitude of its budget and the scope of its operations. The mission of the Office of Inspector General for TVA should be to hold accountable all those who would prey on this organization. My commitment, if confirmed, will be to aggressively pursue anyone, whether inside or outside of TVA, who cheats the organization. I firmly believe that a truly independent Inspector General can marshal the professional team of investigators and auditors now working in that office to insist on a consistent environment of integrity and accountability at TVA. The Inspector General's office is currently being very ably led by Don Hickman as Acting Inspector General. The current Board of Directors for TVA has expressed their commitment to supporting an independent Inspector General, appointed by the President, and we are in total agreement that perpetrators of fraud against TVA should be vigorously pursued. If confirmed I will work with the management of TVA and the law enforcement community to establish a zero tolerance standard for fraud against TVA
Of course rooting out fraud against TVA is only part of the mission of the Inspector General. Clearly, the Inspector General can serve a vital role in identifying and promoting economy and efficiency through improved operations. Comprehensive audits of the operations of TVA by the Office of the Inspector General can be of great benefit to TVA in that regard.
Mr. Chairman, members of the Committee, there is another area that I believe should be a priority for the next Inspector General at TVA. If confirmed, I pledge to conduct a thorough review of the security measures being taken by the Tennessee Valley Authority to safeguard its infrastructure against a terrorist attack. My work since September 11, 2001, as the Anti-terrorism Task Force Coordinator in our district has confirmed my conviction that the protection of America's assets can be best accomplished through the coordinated efforts of multiple government agencies participating in a focused risk analysis and with clear objectives. My experience in leading a coalition of law enforcement agencies in my federal district will, I believe, be useful in working with the various local, state, and federal agencies within the Tennessee Valley Region to protect the vital assets of the Tennessee Valley Authority.
Finally, Mr. Chairman, I want to assure you and the members of this Committee that I will work closely with this Committee to safeguard the assets of TVA and to make it as efficient and effective as possible. I can guarantee you my best efforts toward that end.
I would be pleased to answer any questions you may have.