Baucus Voices Support for Deputy Treasury Nominee, Raises Concerns about Disengaged Treasury Employees and Department's Funding of Cuba Travel Ban
(WASHINGTON, D.C.) The U.S. Senate Finance Committee today held a hearing on SamuelBodman's nomination as Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Treasury. Mr. Bodman has servedas Deputy Secretary at the U.S. Department of Commerce since 2001 and was previously with FidelityInvestments and Cabot Corporation.
"I am pleased that the president has selected a candidate that posses the skill, smarts, and knowhowthat Mr. Bodman brings to the table ," Baucus said today at the Finance Committee hearing. "Mr.Bodman has run two large companies, Fidelity Investments and Cabot Corporation. In addition, he haslearned the ropes of government service, most recently as Deputy Secretary of Commerce. I am glad thatthe administration has chosen such a well-qualified individual to serve as number two at Treasury."While showing support for Bodman's nomination, Baucus raised serious concerns about thecurrent lack of employee dedication and administrative leadership at the Treasury Department.According to a 2002 Gallup survey of Treasury employees, over three-fourths of Treasury employeeswere “disengaged” from their jobs.
"If the Treasury Department and their employees are not being utilized to their full potential, it isa disservice to the American economy and the American people. I urge Mr. Bodman to take action andprovide leadership within the Department to improve employee commitment, moral and engagement,"Baucus said.
In addition, Baucus again raised the issue that resources within the Treasury Department's Officeof Foreign Assets and Control (OFAC) are being misallocated through the enforcement of the Cuba travelban. OFAC is responsible for stemming the flow of terrorist financing, but a recent report found thatOFAC spends one-sixth of its resources on keeping American citizens from traveling to Cuba - an actionunrelated to eliminating terrorist financing.
"We're in tough times with soldiers losing their lives in Iraq everyday, continuing efforts toprotect our Homeland, and a climbing budget deficit," Baucus stated. "It's more important than ever thatour limited federal resources are being used appropriately. Preventing Americans from traveling to Cubais a misuse of OFAC's funds and I look forward to hearing back from Mr. Bodman on this issue."Senator Baucus's full Committee statement follows:
“Thank you, Chairman Grassley. Today this Committee meets to confirm a very capable andwell-qualified candidate to an important position at the U.S. Treasury Department. Mr. Samuel Bodmanhas been nominated to serve as Deputy Secretary of the Treasury. This position has been vacant fornearly a year, and the Department desperately needs leadership during this challenging period. That iswhy I am pleased that the president has selected a candidate that posses the skill, smarts, and know-howthat Mr. Bodman brings to the table.
Mr. Bodman has run two large companies, Fidelity Investments and Cabot Corporation. Inaddition, he has learned the ropes of government service, most recently as Deputy Secretary ofCommerce. I am glad that the administration has chosen such a well-qualified individual to serve asnumber two at Treasury.
Mr. Bodman, I understand that you have a reputation as someone who has fixed companies thathave fallen into trouble in the past. You have your work cut out for you now. According to a 2002Gallup survey of Treasury employees, 78 percent of Department staff are disengaged from their jobs.That means that only 22 percent of employees at the Treasury Department are actively engaged in whatthey are doing at the Department. That is a problem.
The sentiment that the Department is adrift was echoed in an August 2003 New Republic articletitled “Buried Treasury.” The article details the use of career Treasury economists and lawyers forpolitical ends. This is unprecedented and extremely troubling. I have no doubt that using Treasury careeremployees in this way has hurt morale.
I look forward to hearing from you what you expect to do to help set the Treasury Departmentand its employees on the right course. The American taxpayers deserve a Treasury Department withemployees who are working up to their potential. In these tough economic times, the country can affordno less.
Mr. Bodman, you also have significant challenges in the policy arena. The president’s budgetshows a budget deficit of $521 billion. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) notes that they neglect tocollect $311 billion dollars every year, including close to $20 billion that are lost to corporate tax dodges.Others have suggested that these numbers are low. It is essential that the Treasury Department and theIRS begin to take enforcement of our tax laws seriously again. I am interested in hearing from you todayabout the administration’s plans to beef up enforcement of our tax laws.
In addition to enforcement of the tax laws, the Treasury Department also has responsibility tostem the flow of terrorist financing. Chairman Grassley and I sent a letter to the Office of Foreign AssetsControl in December inquiring about how well they are performing their duties, and about their progresson some of the changes that the Inspector General at Treasury had recommended. I understand theDepartment of Treasury is provid ing a full response to most of the questions in that inquiry, and Iappreciate their cooperation.
Today, I would like to hear your opinion on the effectiveness of the Office of Foreign AssetsControl, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, and Treasury's coordination with other agencies. Iwould also like to hear what improvements you think could be made to make sure terrorists don’t have themoney to carry out their plans.
Finally, Mr. Bodman, there's one more related issue I want to raise: That's the issue of Cuba.Chairman Grassley and I recently asked the Office of Foreign Assets and Control to identify for us howthey allocate their limited resources. As I noted, they have very serious responsibilities. That office playsa key role in our war against terrorism. They are the agency that follows the money. They work toimpede financing for terrorist activities, drug trafficking, and weapons of mass destruction.
So I was appalled when the Office of Foreign Assets and Control reported to the Committee thatit spends one-sixth of its resources on keeping American citizens from traveling to Cuba. In a time whenwe are at war in Iraq and Afghanistan, when our soldiers are being shot at every day, when our citizensface very real dangers from Al Qaeda, and when we also face massive budget deficits, this incrediblewaste of resources is unconscionable. Mr. Bodman, I look forward to working with you. I appreciate theexperience that you bring to the job. And I wish you luck on the road ahead.”
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