Shana Dale to be Deputy Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Mark Rosenker to be a Member of the National Transportation Safety Board
Kathryn Higgins to be a Member of the National Transportation Safety Board
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Opening Statement of Chairman Stevens
Senate Commerce Committee
Hearing on nominations
November 1, 2005
THIS MORNING THE COMMITTEE WILL HEAR FROM NOMINEES FOR POSITIONS AT THE NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION AND THE NATIONAL TRANSPORTATION SAFETY BOARD.
FOR DECADES, OUR NATION’S SPACE PROGRAM HAS FOCUSED ON SPACE SHUTTLE OPERATIONS. RECENTLY, THE PRESIDENT GAVE US A NEW VISION FOR SPACE EXPLORATION, WHICH WILL TAKE OUR COUNTRY BACK TO THE MOON AND, EVENTUALLY, TO MARS. FULFILLING THIS VISION WILL POSE MANY TECHNOLOGICAL AND BUDGETARY CHALLENGES.
THE TEAM WHICH DR. GRIFFIN IS ASSEMBLING WILL TAKE OUR FIRST STEPS TOWARD THIS VISION. MS. DALE, DR. GRIFFIN AND I HAVE SPOKEN ABOUT YOUR NOMINATION, AND I LOOK FORWARD TO HEARING FROM YOU. SPECIFICALLY, I AM INTERESTED IN HOW YOU SEE YOURSELF FITTING IN TO THE N.A.S.A. HIERARCHY AND WHAT YOU THINK WILL BE SOME OF YOUR MAJOR CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE AGENCY.
SINCE 1967, THE NATIONAL TRANSPORTATION SAFETY BOARD HAS INVESTIGATED ALL CIVIL AVIATION ACCIDENTS AND MAJOR ACCIDENTS IN OTHER TRANSPORTATION MODES. IT ALSO CONSULTS WITH INVESTIGATORS IN OTHER COUNTRIES ON MAJOR TRANSPORTATION ACCIDENTS OUTSIDE THE UNITED STATES.
THE N.T.S.B. EMPLOYS MORE THAN 400 PEOPLE AT ITS VARIOUS LOCATIONS. IT HAS A HEADQUARTERS IN WASHINGTON, DC; TEN REGIONAL OFFICES THROUGHOUT THE COUNTRY; AND A TRAINING ACADEMY NEAR LEESBURG, VIRGINIA.
THE DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION’S INSPECTOR GENERAL HAS OVERSIGHT RESPONSIBILITIES OVER THE N.T.S.B. IN 2004, THE I.G. IDENTIFIED INFORMATION SECURITY AS A MATERIAL WEAKNESS AT N.T.S.B. AND MADE A NUMBER OF RECOMMENDATIONS.
LAST MONTH, THE I.G. COMPLETED A SECOND AUDIT. THE I.G. FOUND THAT, BEYOND HIRING A CHIEF INFORMATION OFFICER, THE AGENCY HAD MADE LITTLE PROGRESS TOWARDS INCREASING ITS INFORMATION SECURITY. I.G. INVESTIGATORS WERE ABLE TO CRACK THE INTERNET PASSWORDS THAT CONTROL ACCESS TO THE N.T.S.B. NETWORK. FURTHER, INVESTIGATORS WERE ABLE TO ACCESS SENSITIVE INFORMATION, INCLUDING REAL-TIME CONVERSATIONS BETWEEN PILOTS AND CONTROLLERS DURING AN ACCIDENT. THIS IS FAR FROM AN ACCEPTABLE LEVEL OF SECURITY, AND I LOOK FORWARD TO HEARING THE NOMINEES’ VIEWS ON THIS ISSUE.
MARK ROSENKER IS CURRENTLY THE ACTING CHAIRMAN OF THE NATIONAL TRANSPORTATION SAFETY BOARD. HE IS ALSO VICE CHAIRMAN, A POSITION NOMINATED BY THE PRESIDENT BUT NOT REQUIRING SENATE CONFIRMATION. HE IS BEFORE THE COMMITTEE TODAY FOR HIS RE-NOMINATION AS AN N.T.S.B. MEMBER, FOR A FIVE YEAR TERM. HE HAS BEEN NOMINATED TO A REPUBLICAN SEAT.
KITTY HIGGINS IS A FORMER SENATE STAFFER WHO WENT ON TO WORK IN THE CLINTON ADMINISTRATION AND AT THE NATIONAL TRUST FOR HISTORIC PRESERVATION. WE WELCOME BOTH OF YOU TO THE COMMITTEE TODAY.
Witness Panel 1
The Honorable George AllenUnited States SenatorVirginia
STATEMENT OF SENATOR GEORGE ALLEN
Committee on Commerce, Science & Transportation
November 1, 2005
Thank you Mr. Chairman. I am here to introduce Mark Rosenker to the committee, but wanted to commend all of the nominees on their nominations. I also wanted to note that in addition to Mr. Rosenker, Ms. Dale also resides in the Commonwealth of Virginia. This is the type of good judgment that augments the impressive qualifications they bring to their nominations. Since his confirmation more than two and a half years ago, Mark Rosenker has demonstrated himself to be a qualified and energized member of this important federal agency. At this point I would like to introduce Mark’s wife, Heather, as well as welcome the friends and colleagues that have come to support his nomination. During his tenure, Mark has brought a wealth of management and advocacy experience to the Board. With more than 36 years of active and reserve duty in the Air Force, Mark has risen to the rank of Major General. His decorations include the Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit and two meritorious service medals. Because of his unique combination of private sector and military experience, President Bush appointed Mark to be a Deputy Assistant to the President and the Director of the White House Military Office. In this senior staff position, Mark advised on military support to the White House, which included policies, personnel and plans involving DOD assets such as Air Force One, Marine One and White House transportation. After serving nearly two years at the White House, President Bush nominated Mark to his current position at the NTSB. Since he was confirmed in March of 2003, President Bush has twice designated Mark to serve in the role of Vice Chairman. And since March of this year, Mark has been serving with distinction as the acting Chairman. During his time at the Board, Mark has been a strong and outspoken advocate for transportation safety. Mark has focused his attention on the prevention of accidents, injuries and fatalities rather than just mitigating the results. For his leadership role in recreational boating issues, the national safe boating council presented their highest honor, the Confluence Award. This is traditionally given to Members of Congress and Mark is one of a few Executive Branch people to receive this award. The aviation industry acknowledges his leadership role in the challenging issue of preventing runway incursions. He’s been outspoken in attempting to get the FAA to require that all children under the age of two be secured by safety belts while flying. Although Mark is now a Virginian, he spent a good deal of his youth in Maryland, graduating from the University of Maryland in 1969. He was honored to be a commencement speaker for the schools Communications Department and was presented their 2001 Distinguished Centennial Graduate Award. And this year, the University lists him as one of its prominent alumni. Clearly Mark has demonstrated that he is capable and enthusiastic about the Board and its mission. I urge my colleagues to swiftly support his reconfirmation. Thank you Mr. Chairman.
The Honorable Paul SarbanesUnited States SenatorMaryland
Statement of Senator Paul S. Sarbanes
Before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and
Kathryn O. Higgins
Nominee to Serve as a Member of the National Transportation
November 1, 2005
Chairman Stevens, Senator Inouye, and members of the Commerce Committee, I am pleased to appear before you today to introduce Kathryn Higgins as a nominee to serve as a member of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). As the senior senator from Maryland, I am proud to be able to say that Kitty resides in Annapolis, our State capital. As the Members of the Committee know quite well, the work of the NTSB is critical to ensuring the safety and well-being of the American traveling public. The NTSB provides independent Federal oversight for all civil aviation accidents in the United States, as well as investigatory responsibility for significant tragedies on our waterways, railroads, highways, and pipelines. The work of the NTSB is highly complex and technical, and requires the oversight and leadership of individuals who bring significant previous experience and expertise to the Board. Kathryn Higgins’ qualifications for this important position are impressive and extensive, indeed. Since earning her undergraduate degree from the University of Nebraska in 1969, Kathryn Higgins has devoted more than three decades of her life to public service. Throughout much of this career, she has held a number of high-level positions in the Federal government that were accompanied by tremendous responsibility, and familiarized her with some of the very issues and areas of expertise required to successfully execute the critical work of the NTSB. After starting her professional career with close to a decade of service at the Department of Labor, Kitty spent a number of years in the Carter Administration, serving as the Assistant Director for Employment Policy on the White House Domestic Policy Council. After this first span of service in the Executive Branch, Kitty spent 12 years as a staff member in both the House and Senate. From 1981 until 1986, she worked for our distinguished colleague, Senator Kennedy, for whom she served first as a legislative aide and, ultimately, as his Minority Staff Director on the Labor and Human Resources Committee. After leaving the Committee in 1986, she served as Chief of Staff for seven years under Congressman Sander Levin. In 1993, Kitty joined the Clinton Administration and returned to the Department of Labor, where she served for two years as Chief of Staff to Secretary Robert Reich. In February 1995, she left the Labor Department for the White House to become Assistant to the President and Secretary to the Cabinet. As Cabinet Secretary, Kitty was a key Administration official in the coordination of the response to a number of natural and national disasters, including the Oklahoma City bombing. She was also charged with the Cabinet response to the ValuJet and TWA Flight 800 crashes, during which time she made a number of on-site visits both with and without the President, and dealt extensively with both the NTSB and the Federal Aviation Administration. In March 1997, Kathryn Higgins was nominated by President Clinton to be Deputy Secretary of Labor, and was unanimously confirmed to that post by the Senate in June of that year. During her tenure at the Labor Department, she also served as Vice Chair of the Presidential Council on U.S. Coast Guard Roles and Missions. Upon leaving the Federal government in 1999, Kitty served for close to five years as Vice President for Public Policy at the National Trust for Historic Preservation, before spending several months in the private sector. Mr. Chairman and members of the Committee, one of the most important roles I have as a United States Senator is the responsibility to provide “advice and consent” with respect to Presidential nominees. To that end, I am confident that Kathryn Higgins, if confirmed to be a Member of the National Transportation Safety Board, will fulfill her serious responsibilities and face the considerable challenges of that position with skill, conviction, and determination. I urge the Committee to carefully and expeditiously consider this nomination, and to favorably report her nomination. Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to appear before you today to introduce this talented and distinguished nominee.
Witness Panel 2
Ms. Kathryn HigginsNominated to be a MemberNational Transportation Safety Board
STATEMENT OF KATHRYN O. HIGGINS BEFORE THE SENATE
COMMITTEE ON COMMERCE, SCIENCE AND TRANSPORTATION REGARDING
HER NOMINATION TO SERVE AS A MEMBER OF THE NATIONAL
TRANSPORTATION SAFETY BOARD. November 1st, 2005
Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee, I welcome the opportunity to appear before you to today as you consider my nomination to serve as a Member of the National Transportation Safety Board. I am honored to have been selected by Senator Reid and nominated by President Bush for this important position. If confirmed, I commit to you that I will dedicate myself to helping ensure that the NTSB meets its vital safety obligations to the traveling public. I believe my over 30 years of experience in the legislative and executive branches, as well as in the private sector, have provided me with the managerial, leadership and teamwork skills necessary to succeed in the position for which I have been nominated. Further, I believe my varied experience has given me a good perspective both on how organizations work and how to get things accomplished. During my tenure as Cabinet Secretary in the Clinton administration, I had the chance to work firsthand both with the NTSB and the Federal Aviation Administration. Following the ValuJet accident in 1996, I was in continuing contact with key NTSB officials as they proceeded with the accident investigation and issued emergency recommendations to the FAA to address the problems they uncovered. Subsequently, the TWA 800 tragedy occurred and serious questions existed regarding whether it was a terrorist act, leading to intensive investigations by the FBI and the NTSB. I served as the focal point within the White House for tracking these investigative efforts. As such, for a period of months, I was in close contact with these agencies as the investigation proceeded, and made several on-site visits to the hangar in New York where the destroyed aircraft was being reconstructed as pieces were recovered. On one of these trips I accompanied President Clinton as he met with investigators and consoled family members. From this work, I was able to learn firsthand about the Board’s investigative processes. I also developed a deep respect for the commitment and competence of the hard-working professionals at the NTSB. As Cabinet Secretary, I also had the opportunity to work closely with FAA officials on a variety of matters that gave me an appreciation for the types of aviation issues and challenges faced on an on-going basis by the FAA. For example, I was a primary White House contact for FAA and DOT executives as the 1996 FAA reauthorization and reform bill was being formulated by this Committee. I have also had the opportunity and privilege to work with the Coast Guard. At the request of Commandant James Loy, I served as Vice-Chair of the Coast Guard Roles and Missions Commission. I currently serve as a member of the Navigation Council for the Coast Guard’s Deepwater Procurement Project. I believe this experience has given me a good sense of the work the Coast Guard does and would provide me with a good basis to work cooperatively with the agency on maritime investigations of mutual concern to the Coast Guard and the Board. Finally, my thirty years of work as an advocate and author of policies to help American workers gives me a special and important perspective for this post. I understand the importance training workers to enhance technical skills, promote safety and prevent accidents. I pledge to pay particular attention to issues affecting workers if confirmed as a Member of the Board. If confirmed, I hope to contribute to maintaining—and even enhancing--the Board’s status as the preeminent accident investigation body in the world. I believe this is an important priority. Although it is my sense that the Board does a good very job on a day-to-day basis in its investigative efforts, I am interested in learning if there are ways to expedite the process of completing accident reports and issuing recommendations to affected transportation modes. I also am hopeful there are means of working with other agencies to achieve the more timely adoption of recommendations. Although the vast majority of Board recommendations are adopted and implemented, it sometimes takes a protracted period before the recommended action items reach fruition. In my view, safety will be enhanced if thoughtful, balanced recommendations are issued, adopted and implemented on a timely basis. This is an area where I would plan to focus, if confirmed to serve on the NTSB. In closing, Mr. Chairman, I would reiterate my commitment to devote my efforts to working as hard as I can to benefit the safety of the traveling public if I am afforded the honor and opportunity of serving on the Board. I would be pleased to respond to any questions you or Members of the Committee may have at this time.
Ms. Shana DaleNominated to be Deputy AdministratorNational Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)