Hearings - Testimony
 
Full Committee
Pending Nominations
Wednesday, April 5, 2006
 
Richard Capka
Nominated to be an Administrator, Federal Highway Administration

Chairman Inhofe, Senator Jeffords and Members of the Committee,

 

I appreciate the opportunity to appear before you today as you consider my nomination to be the Administrator for the Federal Highway Administration. I am honored to have earned the confidence of the President Bush and Secretary Mineta for this important position. But I know, Mr. Chairman, that you and the Committee have a very important obligation to the American people. If confirmed, I pledge to work with this Committee and Congress to ensure our nation is strengthened through the work done at Federal Highways.

It is an honor to be presented with an opportunity to continue to serve our great nation. Most of all I am honored, proud and blessed to have the love and support of my wonderful wife, Susan, and a family of our two sons, our daughters-in-law, three grandsons and three grandchildren who are on the way. They have been beside me for a career of public service that includes almost thirty years of proudly wearing the uniform of a career military officer in numerous assignments here and abroad while commanding some of the finest organizations in the US Army Corps of Engineers.

Upon retirement I continued my public service as a professional engineer by accepting a challenging opportunity to serve in Massachusetts and manage one of the nation’s largest and most complicated public works projects. There, I earned the praise of the DOT-IG while establishing, for the first time, a budget – with the appropriate controls – that has enabled cost forecasts to remain unchanged through today. It became the basis for the federal approval of the Central Artery’s 2002 Finance Plan and has remained unchanged through today.

I have also served the last three and a half years in Washington addressing the nation’s transportation needs as the Deputy, and now, Acting Administrator for the Federal Highway Administration. I have focused my energy on increased stewardship of the Federal Aid Highway program, providing effective federal response to natural disasters, reducing highway fatalities, relieving congestion and efficiently addressing the needs of our nation’s highway requirements.

I had a unique opportunity when I retired from military service. I was able to select a new career direction from a number of different opportunities. Without hesitation I chose transportation. I did so based upon my personal, worldwide observations of the positive correlation between the quality of a nation’s transportation system and the strength of that nation’s economy and quality of life. Our nation’s economic strength, our security, our individual freedom to travel, and our quality of life are all tied to the quality of our transportation systems.

I have learned over the years that the greatest accomplishments are not the results of a single individual’s efforts but the combined, collective efforts of a “team of teams” … one that is focused on a clear mission and motivated with a common understanding of success. I have learned through the management of many large projects, programs and organizations that, no matter how challenging, the “technical engineering” is often the easy part of the delivery process. The engineers will tell you, “Just tell us what you want done, provide us the resources and we’ll get it done!” But I have learned that it takes a great deal of synchronized effort from a skilled pool of diverse talent across a wide and varied set of stakeholder interests to get to the point of knowing what needs to be done and providing the direction. Whether achieving an important piece of legislation such as SAFETEA-LU, responding to a disaster, solving a complex environmental issue or delivering a complex mega-project, the quality of success will be directly related to the quality of the team. If confirmed, teamwork at all levels has been and will always be my focus.

If confirmed, I will look at the prospects of this new opportunity to serve with optimism and enthusiasm. I see opportunities for us to improve the system that we have. We will be celebrating the 50th Anniversary of our Interstate Highway System on June 29 of this year yet our nation faces significant challenges to the continued success of our highway and multi-modal surface transportation systems. It’s tragic that nearly forty three thousand Americans are killed on our roads every year. Congestion is not only clogging the routes to and from work and recreation it is also clogging the movement of freight that is so vital to our economy. The quality of our environment and the vitality of our communities all depend upon the quality of our transportation planning, program delivery and the efficient management of what we have.

Innovation must and will be at the heart of our solutions and I am excited about the prospects of helping to create an environment that encourages innovation from all sectors of the transportation community: innovative materials and techniques, innovative policy, and innovative partnerships. Solutions will require the serious attention, coordination and cooperation among a whole range of stakeholders, at all levels of the public sector, the private sector and academia. With your confirmation I would be excited about the prospects of working with the commissions that you have wisely chartered to address these very issues as we move toward our next reauthorization.

I have been honored to be part of a great team of dedicated professionals who make up the Federal Highway Administration and the State Departments of Transportation. I have learned great respect and admiration for the whole host of stakeholders who make up the transportation community and, if confirmed, I will look forward to continuing solid and very productive relationships.

If confirmed, I will continue to work with my colleagues at U.S. DOT, at other Federal and State agencies, and with other transportation stakeholders. Most importantly, if confirmed, I will work diligently with you and Congress to both effectively carry out SAFETEA-LU and to help shape the future of surface transportation.

Again, thank you, Mr. Chairman, and members of the Committee. I look forward to answering your questions.

 

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