DEPARTMENT OF THE AIR FORCE
PRESENTATION TO THE SENATE ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE
UNITED STATES SENATE
SUBJECT: CONFIRMATION HEARING
STATEMENT OF: MS RUBY BUTLER DEMESME
DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF THE AIR FORCE
(FORCE MANAGEMENT & PERSONNEL)
23 JULY 1998
Mrs. Ruby Butler DeMesme,
Nominee for Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for
Manpower, Reserve Affairs, Installations and Environment
Thank you, Mr. Chairman and distinguished members of the Senate Armed Services Committee. I am honored to appear before you today as the Presidentís nominee to be the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Manpower, Reserve Affairs, Installations and Environment. I especially appreciate the support of Senator Glenn and Secretary of Defense Cohen for recommending me for this prestigious position.
Throughout my career, I have been a consummate public servant. I spent my first 10 years working for the State of North Carolina as a social worker and school teacher. The last 18 years have been well spent developing and managing various human resources and personnel programs for both the Army and the Air Force, with 16 months of that time as a Congressional Fellow in the United States Senate. These duties have afforded me the opportunities and challenges to understand and contribute to building a dynamic defense workforce of military and civilian employees. As such, I have worked diligently to develop programs and policies that exemplify the "total force" concept of operationalizing mutual and reciprocal partnerships among the active component, Guard and Reserve forces, civilians, and retirees. Through aggressive planning and corporate vision, the Air Force is moving forward to meet the challenges and demands of a world characterized by high operations TEMPO resulting from constant demands for United States intervention all over the world. My past experiences have prepared me to help the men and women in our Air Force to respond to these challenges as a well-trained team of dedicated professionals.
During my years of employment with the Department of Defense, I have learned that the only thing constant is change. The world changed profoundly after the Cold War ended. Instead of preparing for a war with Russia, we now face a time of peace that is troubled by several regional conflicts. Accordingly, our national military strategy is to shape, respond, and prepare--with an emphasis on prevention and deterrence. The U.S. must also help shape the environment in ways that are favorable to our national interests. To accomplish this feat, considerable responsibility is placed on the backs of our young Air Force men and women who go anywhere on short notice; remain separated from their families for long periods of time; and work intensely long hours everyday to accomplish the mission. They give every ounce of strength, skill, and time they can for our nation and they ask for very little in return. That is why it is essential that we, as leaders, do what we can to help them achieve some balance in their lives by providing them a decent quality of life that is commensurate with that of the citizens they protect and defend. If confirmed, I pledge to do my part to ensure that each airman continues to receive adequate housing, compensation and pay, personal and family counseling, affordable and accessible community support services, educational benefits, and health care. I also pledge to strengthen the basesí work and recreational environments by enforcing the Air Force zero tolerance policies for drug abuse, racial and gender discrimination, and sexual harassment. A sensitive and caring work environment is the foundation of the Air Force "People First" initiative which emphasizes the importance of respect for individual rights and differences.
In my current position as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Force Management and Personnel, I have traveled extensively to over 60 bases and spoken with thousands of airmen and their families. They have shared their perceptions of benefits erosion and their concerns surrounding the high level of operations for both those who deploy and those who stay at home base. Some young airmen have professed that it will be difficult for them to re-enlist because of the uncertainty of their future within the Air Force. I will continue to make every effort to assure them that their future in the Air Force is secure. The Air Force has almost met its downsizing goals and for those who might be affected by career field changes, we will re-train them for other duties. While we are beginning to see some slippage in reenlistment rates, we are still meeting our goals. Our emphasis on quality of life improvements will help us with retention. We are assuring our troops that competitive outsourcing will only be done when it makes sense and will not hinder mission accomplishment. While they applaud our efforts to provide privacy in the dorms, increase the number of family housing units, and to increase fitness and child care facilities, they believe much more still needs to be done to improve their quality of life. Our young airmen are inquisitive and expect answers to their questions. They are ready to tackle the challenges of high tech equipment and global mobility; but they must receive sufficient training and tools to successfully accomplish the mission. When I talk with troops and their families, I am proud to highlight the many improvements we have made in quality of life. These improvements include building new houses, more child care centers, more fitness centers, expanded and improved family support centers, the one-plus-one dormitory initiative, and increases in pay and compensations, as well as a robust tuition assistance program. I have built a record of trust and support for our Air Force troops and their families, and I pledge to continue to work on their behalf.
For the past 5 years, I have been involved in developing policies and overseeing programs in many critical areas that have helped us achieve the most ready and able Air Force in history, filled with the best and brightest minds that America has to offer. I am mindful of the need to balance modernization efforts with those of quality of life concerns and budget realities. My philosophy is that if you take care of the people, they will take care of the mission. This philosophy works! If confirmed, I am anxious to help propel this exquisite and capable fighting force into the next millennium by responding positively to the challenge to recruit, train, retain, and support this superb group of men and women who comprise our total force structure. In addition, I will not neglect their families for it is true that we recruit airmen, but we retain families.
The Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Manpower, Reserve Affairs, Installations and Environment position is the focal point for taking care of people, facilities, and keeping the environment safe. These are awesome responsibilities that must be carried out during this time of downsizing, reengineering, and decreasing budgets. I do not take these responsibilities lightly for I know that many tough decisions must be made on a daily basis that will impact upon the Air Force --and indeed the world--for many years to come. If confirmed, I will strive to render these crucial decisions by weighing all available facts and pertinent circumstances.
Thank you Mr. Chairman. If confirmed, I look forward to working with my civilian and military colleagues, particularly the Senators and staff of this committee, to build upon the past and prepare Americaís Air and Space Force for the challenges of the near future and the 21st century.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
ADVANCE QUESTIONS FOR MS. DEMESMEíS CONFIRMATION HEARING
More than ten years have passed since the enactment of the Goldwater-Nichols Department of Defense Reorganization Act of 1986 and the Special Operations reforms..
Do you support full implementation of these defense reforms?
Yes. I support full implementation of Goldwaters-Nichols.
What is your view of the extent to which these defense reforms have been implemented?
Considerable effort has been made to implement these reforms and establish the enabling mechanisms. They are in place and working.
What do you consider to be the most important aspects of these defense reforms?
Clarification of the relationship amongst the combatant commanders, the Services, the Chairman of the JCS, and the NCA. That clarification has allowed appropriate military advice to reach the NCA while solidifying operational command and control from the NCA to the CINCs and from the CINCs to Service components for joint operations.
The goals of the Congress in enacting these defense reforms, as reflected in section 3 of the Goldwater-Nichols Department of Defense Reorganization Act, can be summarized as a strengthening the civilian control; improving military advice; placing clear responsibility on the combatant commanders for the accomplishment of their missions; ensuring the authority of the combatant commanders is commensurate with their responsibility; increasing attention to the formulation of strategy and to contingency planning; providing for more efficient use of defense resources; and enhancing the effectiveness of military operations and improving the management and administration of the Department of Defense.
Do you agree with these goals?
Recently, there have been articles which indicate an interest within the Department of Defense in modifying Goldwater-Nichols in light of the changing environment and possible revisions to the national strategy.
Do you anticipate that legislative proposals to amend Goldwater-Nichols may be appropriate? If so, what areas do you believe it might be appropriate to address in these proposals?
Goldwater-Nichols has served the Defense Department well since 1986. I donít anticipate any DoD sponsored legislative proposals in the foreseeable future.
If confirmed, what will be your relationship with:
- The Secretary of the Air Force
- The Under Secretary of the Air Force
- The other Assistant Secretaries of the Air Force
- The General Counsel of the Air Force
I expect to have a sound working relationship with the Secretary, Under Secretary, other Assistant Secretaries and General Counsel of the Air Force. In order to carry out my statutory and assigned responsibilities, it will be necessary for me to deal directly and frequently with these officials. I will cooperate fully with them and their offices to achieve efficient administration of the Department of the Air Force and to carry out effectively the authority, direction, and control of the Secretary of the Air Force.
- The Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness
- The Assistant Secretary of Defense for Force Management Policy
- The Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs
- The Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs
I will work closely with my OSD and Service counterparts to develop policies and procedures that impact upon the mission of the Department of Defense. Together, we will develop strategies for responding to short and long term department goals, address current issues, and prepare reports to Congress.
- The Chief of Staff of the Air Force
- The Inspector General of the Air Force
- The Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel
- The Surgeon General
- The Chief, National Guard Bureau
- The Chief, Air National Guard
- The Chief, Air Force Reserve
I will provide counsel and guidance to members of the Headquarters staff. We will jointly develop and evaluate policies and programs that benefit our total force personnel. We will ensure that information is current and communications is a two-way venture that encourages open discussions on all relevant facts that affect the recruitment, retention, and readiness of the workforce.
- Airmen and their families
I will be an advocate for airmen and their families. I will fight to ensure that they have the necessary tools and equipment to do their jobs and that their quality of life is enhanced. I will visit installations and talk with as many troops and families as my schedule allows. I will also ensure that they receive sufficient information to understand the decisions we make that affect their livelihood and careers. I will also seek to increase their compensations and benefits within the constraints of budget realities.
Section 8016 of Title 10, United States Code, provides that the Assistant Secretaries of the Air Force shall perform such duties and exercise such powers as the Secretary of the Air Force may prescribe. Section 8016 also specifically addresses the position for which you have been nominated and provides that the principle duty of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Manpower and Reserve Affairs shall be the overall supervision of manpower and reserve component affairs of the Department of the Air Force.
Assuming you are confirmed, what duties do you expect that Secretary Peters will prescribe for you?
If I am confirmed, I understand that Acting Secretary Peters will assign me general responsibilities of providing guidance, direction and oversight of all matters pertaining to formulation, review and execution of plans, policies, programs, and budgets relative to:
(1) Military and civilian personnel
(2) Manpower management programs and techniques
(3) Anti-discrimination programs
(4) Reserve component affairs
(5) Installations and Base Realignment and Closure Issues
(6) Environment, safety, and occupational health
(7) Air Force review and appeal boards
(8) Drug policy oversight
(9) Mobilization planning
As a senior member of his team responsible for these functions, I expect to provide counsel to him and represent him in these areas in interactions with other government officials and private organizations in matters of mutual concern.
Major Challenges and Problems
In your view, what are the major challenges confronting the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Manpower, Reserve Affairs, Installations and Environment?
In my opinion, the major challenges are as follows:
Enhance the total Air Force team through full integration of active duty, guard, reserve, civilians and contractors.
Provide for our Air Force men and women a decent quality of life that is commensurate with that of the citizens they protect and defend. The quality of life issues I will emphasize include: adequate housing, compensation and pay; personal and family counseling; affordable and accessible community support services; educational benefits, and medical care.
Enforce the Air Force "zero tolerance" policies for drug abuse, racial and gender discrimination, and sexual harassment.
Embrace the business revolution through best business practices. However, ensure the Air Force doesnít contract away itís "Sense of Community" during outsourcing and privatization efforts.
Focus on people as our most valued resource and providing them with the necessary support.
Assuming you are confirmed, what plans do you have for addressing these challenges?
Continue the emphasis on quality of life initiatives that affect retention for active, guard, reserve and civilians. In addition, advocate reduced OPSTEMPO for both deployed and home-station members.
What do you consider to be the most serious problems in the Air Force?
Retention along with the process of properly balancing modernization and readiness issues with quality of life issues.
If confirmed, what management action and timetables would you establish to address these problems?
After consultation with the functional area experts, time tables will be established to address each issue. However, I will immediately begin to examine the problem and seek plausible solutions through examining existing reports, and reviewing budgets and manpower authorizations currently being programmed. I would expect to have a grasp of the problem and possible solutions within my first three months on the job.
Excess Installation Capacity
The Secretary of Defense, supported by the Service Chiefs, is calling for additional base closure rounds to eliminated excess capacity at military facilities. Although the Congress has, to this point, declined to authorize additional rounds, there is acknowledgment that there is excess capacity.
How do we eliminate the excess capacity, maintain military readiness, and allow for future surge capacity?
We support the Secretary of Defenseís request for additional rounds of base closure and realignment. That proposal presents the best approach for bringing military infrastructure in line with missions and force structure - optimizing the parameters of readiness. The Air Forceís strategic direction for basing serves as a model to reduce excess capacity in support of a future surge capacity. It does this by aligning strategic basing criteria with military utility and the operational readiness requirements anticipated in the next century. Excess capacity is a draw on resources and therefore degrades readiness. As we have drawn back from overseas bases, we anticipate deploying our forces overseas to meet wartime requirements and therefore do not anticipate a surge problem when we eliminate our excess capacity. We also must retain an appropriate mix of strategically located bases, providing the capability to respond when and where needed.
If the Congress does not authorize additional base closures, would you consider using the authorities under section 2667 of Title 10, United States Code to lease excess capacity to the private sector and, if so, to what extent?
The Air Force has been a leader in promoting private sector development on its under-utilized property. We will continue to look for ways to leverage the value of
Air Force property to the satisfaction of both the Air Force and the private sector. However, I must reiterate: this is not in lieu of further rounds of (BRAC), rather, a way to offset the cost of maintaining infrastructure we cannot divest without BRAC authority. There are opportunities for leasing that could shift the burden of facility management to the private sector as long as they are consistent with the installationís inherent military mission. Except for at our depots, this is not a good long term solution. New depot partnering legislation provides additional benefits for industry/government infrastructure cost sharing. These partnership arrangements will help us to efficiently use the capacity at the depots.
What operational impediments would the dual uses of military facilities have on the Air Force?
None. We would not enter into dual use agreements which impede Air Force operations.
What legislative initiatives would you suggest the Congress enact to encourage the use of excess capacity on a military installation by the private sector?
The Air Force would not retain excess capacities. We support divestiture in lieu of management oversight of excess capacity. We believe this would be the most prudent way to optimize total Air Force facility inventories. We will address legislative initiatives if we are not permitted to divest our current excess capacity, and we cannot realize the necessary infrastructure savings within our current budget authority.
Quality of Life
In response to a continuing shortfall in funding for family housing construction and repair, the Department of Defense proposed the Military Housing Privatization Initiative. Although the Congress enacted this authority in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1996, the Air Force has had limited success in carrying out the Military Housing Privatization Initiative in part because of a lack of support by the Air Force leadership.
What are your views on military family housing?
Military family housing is an important compensation benefit for our members and their families. We do not have sufficient numbers of units available to meet the demand and many of our houses are in need of repair. Plans are to increase the inventory of housing and to repair as many units as possible on an annual basis. It will be necessary to partner with industry to accelerate home improvement projects. We will also privatize housing construction to maximum extent viable while maintaining cost containment for our families.
Should the military departments continue to be burdened with managing and maintaining family housing or would it be more cost effective to turn housing over to the private sector?
First, as noted above, family housing is neither a management nor maintenance burden to the Air Force, itís an investment we make in Quality of Life to ensure weíll have enhanced recruiting, retention, and readiness. We support privatization of military family housing at locations that are economically feasible and in the best interest of the Air Force and our people.
The Air Force is developing a Family Housing Master Plan that should be completed in Dec 98. In the short term, it is necessary for us to retain ownership in management of houses within our inventory. We currently have plans to build-to- lease several family housing projects. These privatization initiatives include a demonstration project at Lackland AFB later this year. Solicitation for Robins AFB is expected to be awarded in Jan 99. Additionally, five remaining projects are in various stages of development. These include Dyess, Elmendorf, Kirtland, Mt Home, and Peterson AFBs.
The Army, Air Force, and Navy are committed to the so called "One plus One" barracks standard. Although the services have justified the substantial cost of this initiative as a retention tool, there are individuals both in the services and the Congress who believe the new barracks style will negatively impact unit cohesion and, potentially, discipline.
What are your views on the "One plus One" barracks standard?
I firmly support the "One plus One" barracks standard. It is important that troops have privacy in their sleeping quarters to relieve the stress of intense and long work days. Our troops have told us in many surveys that privacy is their number one concern in dormitory living. Getting a good nights sleep and having the ability to relax without interruption, no doubt contributes to readiness and improves safety.
Would you consider following the Marine Corps example of upgrading all barracks to an interim standard before fully committing to the "One plus Oneí Standard? If not, why not?
The Air Forceís number one goal is to first eliminate all gang-latrine dormitories within the next five years, and we are well on the way to accomplishing this goal. However, I believe it is important that we move to obtain the "One plus One" standard as soon as possible. An interim standard might work for other Services, but the Air Force plans to continue itís progress towards full implementation of "One plus One."
If confirmed, you will be entering this important position at a time of concern about the adequacy of the budget, force levels and readiness of our forces.
What background and experience do you have that you believe qualifies you for this position?
My past and current positions have provided me a solid foundation and background to successfully serve in this position. I have been involved in developing and implementing manpower and human resource policy and programs for the past 18 years. I also served 16 months as a professional staffer in the United States Senate. I have experience in military personnel, civilian personnel, health affairs, morale, welfare and recreation programs, family and community resource programs, child care, family advocacy, and other quality of life programs. Additionally, I serve on the Air Force Board in budget preparations for the Air Force, and coordinate on installations and environmental issues. I also plan and oversee mobilization plans for Reserve and Guard personnel.
For the past five years, I have worked many critical issues that have helped us achieve the most ready and able Air and Space Force in history. I have traveled extensively to over 60 bases and spoken with thousands of airmen and their families. Theyíve shared their concerns about benefits erosion and the high level of OPSTEMPO for those on deployments and those who stay at home base. I have been a successful advocate for quality of life and transition assistance programs that enable us to recruit, retain, and separate our mighty fighting force.
Do you believe that there are any steps that you need to take to enhance your expertise to perform the duties of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Manpower, Reserve Affairs, Installations and Environment?
I am fully confident in my knowledge of the various areas of MI. However, I will receive update briefings from each functional expert, analyze program reviews and make trips to the field to see first hand some of the installation and environmental issues. Initially, much of my attention will be towards that of installation and environmental issues since I have not worked as intensely in this area as I have with personnel matters.
Officer Management Issues
Do you believe the officer corps has confidence in the integrity of the officer promotion system in the Air Force?
First of all, let me say that I have confidence in the integrity of the officer promotion system. The safeguards set forth in Law are comprehensive and complete. One of the most important of these safeguards is the civilian oversight of the process, from the convening of promotion boards to interviewing board members after a board is complete. I have participated in this oversight in the past, and will continue to ensure every officer receives fair and equitable consideration.
This is a good news story--we take every opportunity to get the word out to the officer force. Officers not normally associated with the promotion process sit on boards and share their firsthand experience with others. We encourage officers--over 400 last year alone--to go back to their home bases and tell others about their experiences. We also bring young officers from all over the Air Force, from many different specialties and areas of expertise, into the Promotion Board Room to act as Administrative Assistants on the promotion boards (50 last year). Again, the goal is to allow them to share their views, as non-vested observers of the process, with other young officers on the flight-lines, in the missile silos, or at the desks and computer terminals throughout the Air Force. I believe these efforts provide a high degree of confidence within our officer corps.
What role do you, as Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Manpower, Reserve Affairs, Installations and Environment, expect to play in the officer promotion system?
I will have the opportunity to provide oversight to every aspect of the promotion process, from reviewing the instructions given to promotion boards, to conducting one-on-one interviews with board members and administrative assistants to ensure that boards are conducted in accordance with the Law and Department of Defense directives. Again, my goal will be to ensure fair and equitable consideration is given to all officers--and that confidence and integrity in the system is maintained.
What role do you, as Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Manpower, Reserve Affairs, Installations and Environment, expect to play in the general officer management and nomination process?
I will have no active role in the general officer nomination process but will support the Secretary of the Air Force, as needed, on any general officer issue.
A continuing criticism of the military departments is that when the military departments, the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Congressional Oversight Committees attempt to analyze separation data the inconsistency of separation codes among the services and the lack of accurate and specific separation codes make a meaningful analysis impossible.
If confirmed, will you agree to work with the Assistant Secretaries of the Army and Navy, the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Force Management Policy and the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness to standardize and accurately define personnel separation codes in order to ensure an accurate historical record and to permit meaningful analysis of separation data?
Yes. The Department of Defense established a Separation Program Designator (SPD) Working Group in March 1998. Air Force separation experts are working closely with service counterparts, providing extensive inputs to streamlining and clarifying SPD codes. In fact hey have reached a common definition for 120 codes already. Progress has been made and there is more to come.
Military Retirement and Military Compensation
During the past year, many in the Department of Defense have attributed problems in recruiting and retention to the military retirement system and military compensation levels.
Do you share the views that the current military retirement system is a negative factor in individual decisions with regard to enlisting or re-enlisting?
To some degree. While data do not reflect a significant problem at this time, there is some indication that the Military Retirement Reform Act (MRRA) along with other factors (Tempo/pay/compensation/QoL/health care), are impacting retention as shown by the 11% drop in second term reenlistment rates from FY93 (82%) to FY97 (71%). Enlisted members and officers under the MRRA rank retirement 6th and 5th, respectively, as factors influencing their retention decision. For those enlisted members and officers under the Military Retirement System (MRS) retirement is ranked 2nd and 1st respectively in there decision to stay. The recent Quality of Life survey also indicates that only 44% of the officers and 26% of the enlisted force thought the retirement system was fair and equitable. The MRS is an important retention tool but the MRRA has significantly reduced its value. We are continuing to watch for adverse retention trends resulting from the reduced retirement benefit.
If so, what changes would you propose to remedy the negative aspects of the military retirement system?
Proposals to reduce payments or require a contributory system to present and future retirees--whether enacted or not--undermine the confidence of career-minded members in the system and lessen the "pull" of the MRS. The retirement system must be perceived as "non-negotiable" by our members to maximize its value as a recruiting and retention tool. When the reductions of the 1980s cut future retirement outlays, they also significantly cut the retention value of that system.
The Air Force will work with OSD to comply with the NDAA report language to examine the "effect on retention of the retirement changes [High-3 and MRRA]Öand assess the need to restore the value of military retirement." Restoring the retention value of the military retirement system is expensive. With the help of the DoD Actuary, we estimate that to move all of our members currently in the least generous MRRA plan up to the High-3 plan would cost DoD an additional $808M annually. In the near term, we believe preservation and stability are the keys to maximizing the retention value of the MRS.
In your opinion, do current military base pay rates contribute to increased attrition?
Yes, to some degree. While current data do not reflect a significant problem, indications are that military pay coupled with other factors (Tempo/QoL/health care/retirement system), are impacting readiness and retention. Once again I point to the 11% drop in second term reenlistment rates from FY93 (82%) to FY97 (71%). In the recent Quality of Life (QoL) Survey, when asked if military pay was fair, only 48% of the officers and 21% of the enlisted force surveyed responded positively. With the help of Congress, the Air Force continues to address the need to provide fair and equitable compensation. We are very pleased with the Congressional Authorization Committeesí vote for a 3.6% pay increase for FY99. However, we must continue to work together to address pay and compensation issues in order to positively impact retention and readiness.
Would you recommend a re-engineering of the military pay system to reduce or eliminate bonuses and special pays to permit funding higher base pay rates or would you recommend targeted special pays and bonuses at the expense of base pay increases?
We certainly need to review our basic compensation system and strike a balance between higher rates of base pay, special pays, and bonuses, although no adjustments should be made at the expense of basic pay. Incentive pays were instituted in response to specific manning problems and the need to properly balance technical expertise and experience across the force. A decade of yearly pay caps at a half percent below the employment cost index, increased TEMPO, the Military Retirement Reform Act, closure or curtailment of Military Treatment Facilities and conversion to TRICARE, and a strong economic environment, have all played key roles in driving the requirement to find remedies to sustain recruitment and retention for various specialties. As a result:
- The Services currently use 44 different special and incentive pays
- Over 40% of the active force receive one or more special and incentive pays
- Growth of special and incentive pays and allowances plus certain tax advantages, have relegated basic pay to only about two-thirds of an enlisted memberís compensation
We must provide our armed forces with the requisite compensation to support an adequate standard of living if we hope to retain the skills and experience we need to effectively accomplish our mission. This will require a combination of increased basic pay and selective special and incentive pays to counter the strong pull from the private sector. "Pursuing fair and competitive compensation and benefits" continues to be a primary goal in our Quality of Life strategy.
Management of the Congressional Fellowship Program
In the Committee Report to accompany the Senate version of the NDAA for FY97, S. Rept,. 104-267, the Committee expressed concern about the management of the legislative fellows from the Department of Defense. The Committee remains concerned that the legislative fellowship program has not received the required attention and that no significant management reforms have been implemented.
If confirmed, will you review the Departmentís actions as a result of the language in the Committee Report and provide the Committee your assessment of which management reforms have been implemented and which require additional action?
Yes. I concur with the language in the committee report, in that the participants can gain valuable insight into the workings of the federal government and that this experience can benefit the services when the member returns. We are presently answering the bi-annual update to the DoD audit that was conducted last summer. I certainly will review the departmentís actions and will provide you with an assessment.
What are your personal views on the value of current management of the legislative fellowship program within the Department of Defense? Specifically, in your opinion are legislative fellowships awarded to deserving military or civilian personnel? Following their fellowship, are legislative fellows assigned to positions in their service in which the experience and knowledge they gained during their fellowship is used effectively?
I can only answer for the Air Force. There is a strict selection process for both military and civilian personnel who are selected as Legislative Fellows. For military personnel they are identified as candidates when they are selected for promotion to major. Then, their records meet a selection board for the various schools/fellowships ( part of Professional Military Education selection). Civiliansí applications also go through a rigorous board process. The Air Force makes every effort to assign individuals to positions where the individualís knowledge and expertise can be utilized effectively. For example, two of our recent graduates in positions requiring legislative expertise, one works in the SAF Legislative Liaison Office and one is working legislative issues for our Deputy, Chief of Staff Operations.
Military legislative fellows routinely do not wear their military uniforms while working in the Senate.
Do you believe that the fellowship program would be degraded if military fellows were required to wear their military uniforms? If so, in what way would the program be degraded?
The quality of the experience as a congressional staff member might be degraded if Legislative Fellows were required to wear their uniform. The program allows officers to function as integral parts of various membersí staff. A uniform would definitely identify them as separate and apart from the "normal" staff. Our goal is
for our Fellows to be seen as "staffers" so they may gain the same access, acceptance and experience as civilian staffers.
Officer Management Issues
The Inspector General of the Department of Defense, at the request of this Committee, recently completed a review of investigations conducted by the military departments concerning senior active and reserve component officers.
If confirmed, will you make the matter of senior officer investigations a priority for your review and action?
Will you assure the Committee that, where you determine appropriate, you will require the recommendations of the DODIG to be implemented?
In order to exercise its legislative and oversight responsibilities, it is important that this Committee and other appropriate committees of the Congress are able to receive testimony, briefings, and other communications of information.
Do you agree, if confirmed for this high position, to appear before this Committee and other appropriate committees of the Congress?
Do you agree, when asked, to give your personal views, even if those views differ from the Administration in power?
Do you agree, if confirmed, to appear before this Committee, or designated members of this Committee, and provide information, subject to appropriate and necessary security protection, with respect to your responsibilities as the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Manpower, Reserve Affairs, Installations and Environment?
Do you agree to ensure that testimony, briefings and other communications of information are provided to this Committee and its staff and other appropriate Committees?