STATEMENT OF CHARLES JOHNSON
U.S. SENATE COMMITTEE ON ENVIRONMENT & PUBLIC WORKS
March 31, 2004
Mr. Chairman, Senator Jeffords, and Members of the Committee, it is a great privilege to appear before you today as the nominee of President George W. Bush to serve as Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). It is also a privilege to seek concurrence from this Committee that I am qualified, both by skills and by personal character, to hold this trusted position. If recommended to and confirmed by the United States Senate, it will be a further privilege to again associate with Michael O. Leavitt, Administrator of the EPA and a man I deeply respect.
As I begin, let me thank you and your staffs for every courtesy extended to me in the preparation for this hearing. At all times I was treated respectfully and professionally and, if confirmed, it will be my intention to reciprocate in working with you and your staffs.
The Office of the Chief Financial Officer at EPA is core to the success of the Environmental Protection Agency. The CFO Office Mission Statement reflects its comprehensive responsibilities for developing, managing, and supporting an Agency-wide goals-based system that involves strategic planning and accountability for environmental, fiscal, and managerial results. How an agency spends its money reflects its true priorities. As part of the management team, the CFO oversees budget formulation, preparation, and execution and is accountable for resources management and financial management functions that include analysis and annual planning, as well as controls and systems for payroll and disbursements. The office of the CFO is also responsible to look to the future and aid the management team in long-term thinking.
With 31 years in the practice of public accounting, including service as a member of the Board of Directors of one of the nation's largest firms, I believe I have demonstrated the financial competence as well as managerial leadership abilities to assume such a post. As Utah's Director of the Office of Planning and Budget, and as then Governor Leavitt's Chief of Staff, I have demonstrated these same qualities in the public sector. I take the public accountability very seriously.
I have learned much from my past experiences. I have developed financial skills from my years in public accounting that will guide me in the fiduciary responsibilities over the Agency's financial resources. I know from my government experience of the need to be up-front and open in providing information to constituencies. I have learned that all budgets are exercises in comparisons and hard choices have to be made. From my service as Chair of the Utah State Board of Regents, I have found the continuing need to allocate funds to programs and necessary research and to reduce unnecessary administrative costs. From my day-to-day dealings with citizens, I have found taxpayers willing to give government responsibility over their taxes only when they believe that spending goes for the common good of the country and to the benefit of its citizens.
The past has been excellent preparation for the job to which I have been nominated.
That being said, I know the broad array of financial issues confronting EPA are more than just complicated financial questions. They are, fundamentally, the questions that address EPA's stewardship of the nation's air, water, and land. Being true to the fiduciary responsibilities I mentioned earlier is the best way I know for me to help EPA fulfill this stewardship role.
It is clear that the EPA has many large and complex issues before it. But it is also clear that addressing these issues successfully will require the collaboration of everyone in this room. As Administrator Leavitt said in his confirmation hearing, "Every significant step of environmental progress...has been a product of collaboration." I want to be a catalyst for collaboration. I want to do this to serve the Administration, the Administrator, and the American people.
I also would like to say what a pleasure it will be to be associated with the men and women that make up the staff of the Office of the CFO. They are a very dedicated group of people, equally focused on their profession and their professionalism. They care about immediate tasks and ultimate goals in pursuit of EPA's mission. I will be proud to serve with each and every one of them.
Mr. Chairman, I have spent a lifetime in building trust, confidence, and respect for moments such as this and I want you to know that if I am fortunate enough to be confirmed, I look forward to serving the people of the United States of America to the best of my ability. I again thank you and the Members and staff of this Committee for every courtesy extended to me and am ready to address any questions you and the Members of this Committee may have.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.