The Nomination of the Honorable Gordon England to be Deputy Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security
Thank you Senator Collins, Senator Lieberman and all the Members of the Committee for giving me the opportunity to testify today.
Before I begin, I want to first thank President Bush and Secretary Tom Ridge for their leadership and vision -- and for placing his confidence in me. Homeland security relies on partnerships and I am honored and humbled that they would make me a partner in this great national effort.
The Secretary has brought together an extraordinary team of patriots and public servants. I have met a great many of them. No matter what agency or bureau they may hail from, they are resolute and united behind the mission of homeland security: to protect the American people and our way of life from terrorism. For the first time, we now have a single Department whose primary mission is exactly that - and which will help them do their jobs even better.
The effort to secure the homeland can be summed up as follows: prevent terrorist acts; identify and reduce our vulnerabilities to terrorist threats; and ensure our preparedness to effectively respond and recover while saving as many lives as possible in the event of a future attack.
To achieve those goals, the President's National Strategy for Homeland Security - the nation's first -- identifies six critical mission areas the new Department will focus on: intelligence and warning; domestic counterterrorism; border and transportation security; the protection of critical infrastructure and key assets; defense against catastrophic threats; and emergency preparedness and response.
Significant progress has been, and continues to be made in each of those mission areas. As Secretary Ridge indicated before this committee, since 9-11 this nation has clearly improved its protective capabilities. Our maritime borders have been pushed farther from shore. Our land border security has been tightened, and walls torn down between the law enforcement and intelligence communities, so we better know who is in our country and why.
Tens of thousands of professional screeners have been deployed at every one of our commercial airports, and thousands of air marshals are on our planes. We've acquired a billion doses of antibiotics and instituted a major smallpox vaccination program. Working with Congress, billions of dollars has been allocated for bioterrorism training and food and water security -- and the President continues to work with Congress on his proposed thousand-percent increase in funding for first responders.
In short, as Secretary Ridge said, the homeland is indeed far safer and better prepared today than on 9-11 -- and will be safer still tomorrow as we develop new capabilities through the Department of Homeland Security.
As Deputy Secretary, I will do whatever the President and the Secretary ask of me in order to achieve those goals and accomplish our mission of protecting the American people from terrorism. They have placed their confidence in me -- and I will do my utmost to repay that confidence.
I believe my record and experience show I am qualified for this task.
As Secretary of the Navy, I managed a force of nearly 900,000 active and reserve troops and civilian employees, and a budget of more than a hundred billion dollars. In that role, I was charged by Secretary Rumsfeld with finding and eliminating waste and using the savings to improve our fighting capability. Such an effort, I believe, is critical in any large, complex organization. And as Deputy Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, I will work with Secretary Ridge, the Under Secretaries and Congress to ensure that the resources allocated toward the protection of Americans from terrorism are actually used to protect Americans from terrorism.
Secretary Ridge said he would insist that measurable progress be made by the new Department and its component agencies. I could not agree more. At the Pentagon, a new initiative had to meet several criteria: does it benefit our troops and improve their ability to fight? Does it provide common good across the entire Department of Defense? And does it result in identifiable savings? Measuring our programs on how well they meet the criteria we assign to them must be a constant and consistent emphasis.
I believe the key test for homeland security is not inputs, but outcomes. Success must be measured by the capabilities we create with the resources we have. Capabilities to protect more people -- deter more terrorist acts -- and reduce and eliminate more vulnerabilities.
Our first and most immediate challenge, of course, is the merger. We must blend 22 separate work cultures and operating and management procedures into one cohesive organization, as seamlessly and expeditiously as possible to meet our deadlines. We must create a mindset in which each agency and the people within them calibrate their missions and responsibilities toward the primary mission of homeland security. At the same time, as Secretary Ridge has indicated, we cannot lose sight of the individual missions of each agency and our need to carry them out both during and after the merger.
I believe I offer some expertise on the matter. In addition to my public service, I have spent more than four decades working in the private sector. Part of that time I was a merger and acquisitions consultant. Later, at General Dynamics, I helped facilitate the merger of the Fort Worth Company with Lockheed.
I know from direct experience that merging large organizations takes great patience and open and constant communication. We must ensure that those affected are fully invested in the process and aware of its progress. After all, we are not moving chess pieces; we are moving people.
As Secretary Ridge has indicated, we must not allow invisible barriers to get in the way of our overall mission. As we build the Department, we will foster teamwork and a strong sense of pride behind our primary mission.
And we must act always with the understanding that homeland security is not just a federal effort, but a national one. We will continually cultivate partnerships with other agencies, state and local governments, the private sector and academia, and the American people themselves.
This is the largest reorganization of government in more than half a century. It is a great challenge. But the Transition Planning Office has laid the framework for a strong and sound organizational structure to accomplish these goals. I believe we are well on our way to creating a professional workforce focused on the protection of our homeland from terrorism.
Let me now talk about one of our greatest allies in this effort: technology. In fact, we have an entire directorate dedicated to Science and Technology. As a former member of the Defense Science Board, I especially look forward to "standing up" that Directorate.
Our ability to improve communication vertically and horizontally - to spot and capture terrorists and their deadly cargo - to quickly identify an outbreak of disease - and, of course, to merge 22 agencies into one Department -- all rely on technology.
As an Executive Vice President of General Dynamics, I was responsible for Information Systems throughout the company and I saw the transformative power of technology first-hand. I also learned the importance of ensuring that the technology was accessible and understandable by the entire company and those we worked with. We face the same challenge, on a much larger scale, with the creation of the Department of Homeland Security. As Deputy Secretary, I will work to ensure that challenge is met.
Science and technology are some of America's greatest weapons in this fight. They are a direct result of our innovative, entrepreneurial spirit. I believe that innovation and risk must be rewarded. In my experience, a good idea can come from anywhere. And that good idea must be able to travel up and down the chain of command, where it can be examined and acted upon for the good of the entire Department.
Finally, I want to echo the comments Secretary Ridge made on what he believes is the most valuable asset of the Department of Homeland Security: its people. I cannot say it better than he did: "New funding, technology and equipment are important - but no more so than the people who willingly serve in the new Department."
Secretary Ridge has done a superb job of ensuring that the federal employees whose jobs and lives are affected by this merger are at all times informed and engaged in the process, and that their workplace rights are protected.
As for myself, my door will be open to all 170,000 employees. I believe in treating public servants with the dignity and respect they deserve. Their support can make the difference between success and failure. And so they have my support.
As Secretary of the Navy, I traveled 75,000 miles, visiting more than 50 bases and I heard the hopes and fears of our men and women in uniform. I also, on several occasions, had to write letters of condolence to their families. These patriots risked and sometimes gave their lives for our freedom. Unfortunately, many of the employees of the Department of Homeland Security may also face similar risks. You have my vow to do what it takes to make their jobs easier and safer. What they do for all of us will not be taken for granted.
Let me make one final point. One of the most promising aspects of homeland security, in my opinion, is something that President Bush and Secretary Ridge continually emphasize: its potential to make us not just a safer nation, but a better and stronger nation.
In creating new capabilities to protect the homeland, new spinoff benefits in science, technology, health and medicine, trade, and the economy may well emerge.
The terrorists who sought to make us weak with fear, will instead find that they have spurred us on to greater heights.
We face another defining moment in history. Our nation is at war with the third "ism" of my lifetime. It took a World War to defeat fascism and a Cold War to defeat communism. Now we are at war with terrorism.
History has not yet recorded how this war will be won. But we have an opportunity to begin writing that history today. And, with your approval, I look forward to being a part of it.