Hearings - Testimony
 
Full Committee Hearing
An Informational Hearing on Pending Nominations
Wednesday, February 8, 2006
 
Terrence Bracy
Nominated to be a Member of the Board of Trustees of the Morris K. Udall Scholarship, and Excellence in National Environmental Policy Foundation

Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, thank you for this hearing and for all you have done to support the activities of the Udall Foundation. Our role is to educate and mediate, and to do so with the spirit of civility and integrity that shaped the 30-year Congressional career of Mo Udall. I was proud to have him as a friend and lucky to have him as a mentor. Everything we have attempted as a Foundation was begun by asking a simple question: How would Mo Udall have approached this challenge?

Inspired by Mo's creativity and good humor, the Foundation board has found its way to unanimity in all of its decisions. As new challenges and assignments have come our way, under Democratic and Republican Administrations, our trustees have moved together to adopt policies and budgets which fulfilled our common responsibilities. Many of our trustees have given generously of their time and intellect, all without compensation, to develop the institution you envisioned. I hope and believe we have served you well.

Attached to my statement is a fact sheet, which lays out our record for the first ten years. I will not repeat the details, but a few accomplishments are worthy of note. The Udall Foundation has developed a family of scholarship, fellowship, and internship programs which have become among the most popular on the campuses of American universities. To date, 1107 academic awards have been made to students in all 50 states. In these scholars, we seek to identify and recruit the next generations of environmental and Native American leaders and to teach them the overarching values of civility, integrity and consensus.

In 1998, you approved legislation that challenged us to build within the Federal Government a new agency to promote alternative dispute resolution of environmental conflicts. This was a logical response by Congress to relieve court dockets crowded with expensive and complicated lawsuits that took years and millions of dollars to resolve. I remember Chairman Chafee telling me at the time that he didn't know if this approach would work, but it was sure worth trying. The Committee approved a public/private partnership under which the Foundation was directed to build a core staff at our headquarters in Tucson, but then reach out to the private mediation community. Today we have a core staff of 24 at the U.S. Institute and more than 260 qualified private environmental mediators available for contract services or referrals in 46 states. This partnership has given our small agency vast outreach and explains why we have been involved in hundreds of cases, ranging from the Everglades to the Hawaiian corral reefs. We are grateful that the reauthorization bill you approved in 2003 significantly increased our resources.

We were also charged by legislation authored in the Indian Affairs Committee to build what is now known as the Native Nations Institute. Self-governance has brought the tribes many benefits but also many challenges. And of course, most tribes do not benefit from gaming revenues and are very poor. Often Native leaders have lacked the governance training and skills needed to succeed, and we were asked to take steps to fill that gap. NNI, as we call it, has over the last five years provided executive training to more than 1,700 Native leaders from more than 340 tribes, even as its youth programs, including the first-ever Native American congressional internship program, is seeking to identify and educate the leaders of the next generation.

Looking ahead, we ask for your continued support. As a relatively small and new institution within the Federal family, we have the ability to find the cracks in the system and fill them with creative thinking. Some of that thinking has been ours, and indeed some has been yours. We will continue to keep you and the committee staff fully informed of our activities and, as in the past, we will seek additional resources from you only when they are absolutely needed.

As we celebrate our first ten years of operation, the trustees and our elite staff will be meeting for four days in April to lay plans for the decade ahead. Among the items already identified is the growing deficit in Indian health care, the need to recruit a new generation of career civil servants in environmental agencies, and a re-emphasis on one of Mo Udall's favorite topics, ethics. As always, we are most interested in any new ideas that the Committee may generate.

Mr. Chairman, I hope and believe that we are developing an institution of growing importance and influence whose actions would make this Committee and Mo Udall proud. I'll be pleased to answer any questions.

 

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