The Environmental Protection Agency is charged with a very important mission—to protect human health and safeguard the natural environment. I am pleased that this Committee is engaged in oversight of the EPA. However, I hope that in the near future this Committee will also hold hearings on important health issues such as lead levels in the water supply of the District of Columbia and mercury pollution from power plants, as well as hearings on New Source Review, Climate Change, and water pollution. Today we are looking at ways EPA can improve its use of resources to protect the environment. These resources include a substantial amount of funding for grants. Last year EPA grants funding amounted to over four billion dollars. Much of this grant money has been put to very good use. Notable examples include the highly successful clean water and drinking water state revolving fund programs. EPA grants money is also used to support continuing programs, such as the Clean Air Program for monitoring and enforcing clean air regulations, and to fund environmental research and training. In short, grants funding is a central means by which EPA can accomplish its important environmental goals. Unfortunately, for some time now, studies by the General Accounting Office and the EPA Office of the Inspector General have documented persistent shortcomings in EPA's grants management. EPA continues to face several challenges in managing its grants. These challenges include selecting the most qualified applicants, effectively overseeing grantees, measuring the results of grants, and effectively managing staff and resources. Addressing these challenges should be a priority for EPA, and I am pleased to see that EPA recently has taken noteworthy steps to improve its grants management. EPA is moving in the right direction by instituting competition and oversight policies and by developing a comprehensive five-year grants management plan that is designed to address many of the shortcomings that have been identified. EPA now must successfully carry out these plans for improvement. At the same time, there is still more that EPA can do to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of its grants programs. I am concerned about the Inspector General's recent report that alleges a group illegally accepted agency grant funds. However, I would like to know whether EPA knowingly awarded funds to an ineligible organization and whether any funds were actually misused. I look forward to hearing more about EPA's progress in implementing its new policies and comprehensive plan, and also about how EPA is responding to further suggestions for improvement.