[Senate Hearing 109-637] [From the U.S. Government Printing Office] S. Hrg. 109-637 NOMINATIONS OF THOMAS E. HARVEY TO BE ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR CONGRESSIONAL AND LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS, DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS; AND PATRICK W. DUNNE TO BE ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR POLICY AND PLANNING, DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS ======================================================================= HEARING BEFORE THE COMMITTEE ON VETERANS' AFFAIRS UNITED STATES SENATE ONE HUNDRED NINTH CONGRESS SECOND SESSION __________ JULY 27, 2006 __________ Printed for the use of the Committee on Veterans' Affairs Available via the World Wide Web: http://www.access.gpo.gov/congress/ senate ______ U.S. GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE 29-718 WASHINGTON : 2007 _____________________________________________________________________________ For Sale by the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office Internet: bookstore.gpo.gov Phone: toll free (866) 512-1800; (202) 512�091800 Fax: (202) 512�092250 Mail: Stop SSOP, Washington, DC 20402�090001 COMMITTEE ON VETERANS' AFFAIRS Larry E. Craig, Idaho, Chairman Arlen Specter, Pennsylvania Daniel K. Akaka, Hawaii, Ranking Kay Bailey Hutchison, Texas Member Lindsey O. Graham, South Carolina John D. Rockefeller IV, West Richard Burr, North Carolina Virginia John Ensign, Nevada James M. Jeffords, (I) Vermont John Thune, South Dakota Patty Murray, Washington Johnny Isakson, Georgia Barack Obama, Illinois Ken Salazar, Colorado Lupe Wissel, Majority Staff Director Bill Brew, Minority Staff Director C O N T E N T S ---------- JULY 27, 2006 SENATORS Page Craig, Hon. Larry E., Chairman, U.S. Senator from Idaho.......... 1 Akaka, Hon. Daniel K., Ranking Member, U.S. Senator from Hawaii.. 3 Murray, Hon. Patty, U.S. Senator from Washington................. 3 Hutchison, Hon. Kay Bailey, U.S. Senator from Texas.............. 4 WITNESSES Harvey, Thomas E., nominee to be Assistant Secretary for Congressional and Legislative Affairs, Department of Veterans Affairs........................................................ 5 Prepared statement........................................... 7 Questionnaire................................................ 8 Dunne, Rear Admiral Patrick W., (Ret.), U.S. Navy, nominee to be Assistant Secretary for Policy and Planning, Department of Veterans Affairs............................................... 14 Prepared Statement........................................... 14 Questionnaire................................................ 16 APPENDIX Goodman, Allan E., President and CEO, Institute of International Education, prepared statement.................................. 29 Gorman, David W., Executive Director, Disabled American Veterans, prepared statement............................................. 29 NOMINATIONS OF THOMAS E. HARVEY TO BE ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR CONGRESSIONAL AND LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS, DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS; AND PATRICK W. DUNNE TO BE ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR POLICY AND PLANNING, DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS ---------- THURSDAY, JULY 27, 2006 U.S. Senate, Committee on Veterans' Affairs, Washington, DC. The Committee met, pursuant to notice, at 10 a.m., in room SR-418, Russell Senate Office Building, Hon. Larry E. Craig, Chairman of the Committee, presiding. Present: Senators Craig, Hutchison, Akaka and Murray. OPENING STATEMENT OF HON. LARRY E. CRAIG, CHAIRMAN, U.S. SENATOR FROM IDAHO Chairman Craig. Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. The Committee on Veterans' Affairs is convening this morning to consider two nominations for important positions at the Department of Veterans Affairs. Thomas Harvey has been nominated by President Bush to serve as Assistant Secretary for Congressional and Legislative Affairs. Retired Admiral Patrick Dunne has been nominated by the President to serve as Assistant Secretary for Policy and Planning. Both of these gentlemen come before the Committee with vast experience in Government and strong leadership credentials. Mr. Harvey has spent nearly four decades serving his country in various areas of Government, as well as performing equally valuable work in the private sector. He served his Nation honorably in the U.S. Army, spending almost 3 years in Vietnam with the 173rd Airborne Brigade. He earned a Silver Star, a Bronze Star, and was awarded the Purple Heart for injuries sustained during enemy battle. Mr. Harvey may look very familiar to a few of you on the Committee, that is because some of his leadership skills were acquired right here in this room where he served two separate stints as the Committee's Staff Director and Chief Counsel under Chairman Alan Simpson. That must have been a very interesting duty. Mr. Harvey. Very. Senator Craig. We know Alan Simpson, the former Senator from Wyoming. One of our colleagues, Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas, will be here to recognize Tom, so I will leave any additional comments on the rest of his impressive bio to Senator Hutchison when she arrives. Tom is also joined today by some of his family members. However, I won't steal his thunder and I say to both of you that when it is your time for testimony, I encourage you to recognize your families and introduce them to the Committee. Also before us today is Retired Rear Admiral Patrick Dunne, who comes to the Committee nominated to serve as Assistant Secretary for Policy and Planning. As many of you know, that office has been the focal point of much of the discussion surrounding the theft of the laptop computer and hard drive from a VA employee's home. The office Admiral Dunne has been chosen to lead has been vacant for nearly 3 years. I think this man is the right person to put back together and lead this area at the current time. Admiral Dunne, up to this point, has spent most of his adult life serving to advance the cause of freedom to the U.S. Navy. He is a 1972 graduate of the Naval Academy of Annapolis and he received his Master's Degree in Mathematics from Navy's Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. I think it goes without saying that a man that rises to the rank of Rear Admiral in the U.S. Navy has already demonstrated his leadership skills time and again. The Admiral's list of assignments and duties for over a 30- year career in the Navy is long and distinguished, but I want to point out just one. I was so pleased that the Admiral was able to spend about 6 months of quality time during the winter of 1973 and 1974 in Idaho Falls, Idaho. For those of you who have not had that opportunity, Idaho Falls, while in a high desert environment and a flat landscape, is a mile high and the sweep of Canadian-type weather flows down across Montana and on to the high desert plains of Idaho and takes the temperatures well below zero in Idaho Falls. So many of you who have not had that experience must recognize though that Idaho Falls is the home of the Nation's preeminent nuclear facility, the Idaho National Laboratory, and the Admiral spent time at the nuclear training unit. If I had to guess, I would say that memories of his winter in Idaho Falls served as an impetus to assure his last assignment in Monterey, California. I will put the beauty of Idaho up against any place on the planet, including Monterey, but I concede that the weather in Monterey is probably a good deal more pleasant. Admiral Dunne is also joined by some of his family and again Admiral, I encourage you to introduce them to the Committee during your time of testimony. Before I turn to Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas, who has additional comments and the introduction of Tom Harvey, let me turn to our Ranking Member, Danny Akaka, for any additional comments he would like to make. Senator Akaka. STATEMENT OF HON. DANIEL K. AKAKA, RANKING MEMBER, U.S. SENATOR FROM HAWAII Senator Akaka. Mr. Chairman, it is always a pleasure to work with you. Today, the Committee meets to tender the nominations for two important positions. I am pleased to welcome the two nominees and pleased to see their families here as well as their friends. These two positions are integral to the VA's mission and must be filled with qualified, competent and motivated individuals. I am confident the Committee will give thoughtful consideration to these nominations. Retired Navy Admiral Patrick Dunne has been nominated to be the Assistant Secretary for Policy and Planning. Admiral Dunne, I look forward to seeing how you plan to rectify the dysfunction affecting the Office of Policy and Planning as highlighted by the recent IG report on the data loss issue. Firm leadership is critical to restoring the integrity and intended function of this office. Mr. Thomas Harvey has been nominated to be the Assistant Secretary for Congressional Legislative Affairs. Tom has a long and successful career in the veterans' arena both here and with the Committee and at the VA. Most recently, he has been serving as acting Assistant Secretary. For those on the Committee who have not worked with Tom in the past, his most recent tenure in the VA has given insights into how he works with Congress. I am confident that Tom's expertise and experience will prove invaluable to his success. Tom, as the conveyor of information to Congress, the Committee, along with our colleagues in Congress, must be able to depend on you and your staff to work with us to address questions and concerns. Assuming your confirmations, which I do, I urge you both to work to build and maintain relationships with Committee Members and staff so that both the VA and the Committee can better serve the veterans of this great Nation. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Senator Craig. Thank you, Senator Akaka. Senator Murray of Washington has joined us. Senator Murray, do you have any opening comments? STATEMENT OF HON. PATTY MURRAY, U.S. SENATOR FROM WASHINGTON Senator Murray. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman and Senator Akaka, for holding this hearing and I want to join you in welcoming Admiral Dunne and Mr. Harvey to the Committee. Admiral Dunne, I hope that we hear from you today about what steps you are going to take to reinvigorate the VA with the leadership that I think it needs to properly budget for the care and services that our veterans need and deserve and really have earned. The position that you are seeking has a great responsibility to our veterans and we need leadership that is going to take initiative to improve access to health care and benefits to ensure that our servicemembers from Iraq and Afghanistan who are returning home get the services that they need. I appreciate the time we had to meet, and I have some concerns, and I do want to hear from you today about your basic knowledge and understanding of this agency and the real inner workings of the VA. I hope that I hear from you, that you will get up to speed quickly, and that you will not be just a rubber stamp for the Administration policies, but will be a real advocate for the veterans and make sure that they are the ones that are at the top of the agenda on the decisions that are being made. I look forward to your testimony and the questions today. Mr. Harvey, thank you, too for taking the time to meet with me. Clearly, having good relationships with the Members of Congress to work on critical challenges is really important and I look forward to hearing from you on how we can build those relationships and better serve all of our veterans. Republicans, Democrats, Independents and Americans look forward to working with you. Thank you. Senator Craig. Thank you very much. Before I swear in both of our nominees, let me turn to the Honorable Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas, for additional introductory comments in relation to Tom Harvey. Kay, welcome to the Committee. Tom knows this, but Admiral, Kay is also a Member of this Committee so she is serving a dual purpose. STATEMENT OF HON. KAY BAILEY HUTCHISON, U.S. SENATOR FROM TEXAS Senator Hutchison. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, and I thank you for having this hearing for both of our nominees. It is very important that we have both of them official, hopefully before we recess. I do believe we are planning an expedited vote on them because they both hold such important positions to improve the VA as they meet transition operations. I am very pleased to be able to introduce my friend, Tom Harvey, for the position that has been mentioned. This is for Assistant Secretary for Congressional and Legislative Affairs. I cannot think of anyone more qualified for this position than Tom Harvey, not only because of his experience previous to his appointment, but because of the way he has handled many very tough issues during his interim time in the position. As was probably mentioned before I came, he is accompanied by his wife, Cathie Black, who is also a friend of mine and one of the most accomplished women in America, and his son, Duffy Harvey. They also have a daughter, Allison, who chose camp instead of listening to her father speak again. I cannot imagine why she would do that. But they are a wonderful family and I have known them for a long time. I think it is so much fun when a person who served as Chief Counsel of this Committee comes back as a nominee to be Assistant Secretary. That gives everyone there on the back row the clue that there is something wonderful in your future. He was the Chief Counsel and Staff Director from 1981 to 1983, and then again, from 1995 to 1996. He has an in-depth knowledge of the Congressional process as it relates to veterans. He has committed his life's work to serving veterans and his reputation and credentials are impeccable. After leaving the Committee staff, he was appointed to serve on the Commission for Servicemembers and Veterans Transition Assistance that was established by Congress, and that is where he came to know and work with the former Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Anthony Principi. The Commission's work was thorough and comprehensive and, in large part, I think that was because the Committee Members were people, like Tom, who really understood veteran issues. Over the last several years, he has been acting Assistant Secretary and was before that the senior advisor to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs. He is also well known and respected for his expertise with other Federal agencies. He has been Deputy Administrator of the Veterans' Administration, and General Counsel and Congressional liaison at the U.S. Information Agency. He was Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisitions and Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Logistics. He is also a combat decorated Vietnam veteran. He served two-and-a-half years in Vietnam as an infantry company commander and as an advisor with the Vietnamese Airborne Division. During his tenure of service, Tom earned a Silver Star and a Purple Heart. He is also a senior parachutist, a ranger, and a recipient of the combat infantry badge. Mr. Chairman, I cannot think of anyone more qualified for this position and I highly recommend him to you. I do also want to mention that I am not here to introduce Admiral Dunne, but I certainly am very pleased about his nomination. He is, as Senator Murray said, a key lynchpin of the Veterans' Administration to give service to our veterans, and I know that he will do a fine job as well. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Senator Craig. Kay, thank you very much. I appreciate that. Now, I will ask both of you to rise with me and to raise your right hand to be sworn in the customary fashion we do to all the nominees coming before the Committee. [Witnesses sworn.] Senator Craig. Danny has to do dual purpose today so he will be leaving us. Tom, we will start with you. Please proceed with your testimony and, as I mentioned earlier, please introduce any members of your family who is with you for the Committee and for the record. STATEMENT OF THOMAS E. HARVEY, NOMINEE TO BE ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR CONGRESSIONAL AND LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS, DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS Mr. Harvey. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee. Thank you for the opportunity to appear before you this morning as the President's nominee for the position of Assistant Secretary for Congressional Affairs, Department of Veterans Affairs. I am honored to have been nominated to that position by the President, and I appreciate the confidence shown in me by Secretary Jim Nicholson as he supported that nomination. I know that Senator Hutchison has other commitments, but what I wanted to mention prior to her departure was that my daughter Allison, who could not be with us this morning, is actually a Texan and takes great pride in that and, if you were to ask her where she is from she would say Texas. I was pleased when Secretary Nicholson asked me to return to the Department to help him out with this transition. Earlier in my career I had served for 5 years as Chief Counsel and Staff Director of this Committee under the Chairmanship of Senator Al Simpson. I believe that I was aware of many of the valid concerns of Members of Congress with regard to the VA. I felt that with my background, I could help Secretary Nicholson and the VA to better respond to those concerns. During the Reagan Administration, I served as Deputy Administrator of the Veterans' Administration. I felt that I knew how those issues and concerns affected the VA and hoped that I would be able to help the VA to better understand and respond to Congressional needs. As a Vietnam combat veteran, serving two-and-a-half years there as an Army infantry officer, I also felt that I understood on a deeply personal level, something about this country's veterans. I volunteered for duty in Vietnam. Many of my fellow veterans did not have that choice. They were young and out of school. They were drafted and they served selflessly and courageously in that conflict because that is what their country asked of them. Tom Brokaw spoke of those that served in World War II as the ``Greatest Generation'' in his book of that name, written some 50 years after the end of that conflict. I have every expectation that the Vietnam War will provide just the same gripping stories so that our own children will better understand what we experienced, and the same will happen to those now returning from defending this Nation in the Middle East today. Mr. Chairman, should I have the honor of being confirmed for this position, I hope that I can effectively serve this Administration, the dedicated professionals I have been blessed to work with at the VA over the years, and most significantly, this country's veterans. I would like, if I may, to introduce a few of the people who are with me here today, most notably my wife, Cathie Black. When I told her that Secretary Nicholson had asked me to help him, she said, ``That's great, dear, but what does this mean?'' It was then that I lied for the first time in our 25 years of marriage and said, ``Oh, I don't know. Probably 2 or 3 days a week.'' It has not worked out that way, and I think by now Cathie has figured out that I was not exactly candid in that. My son Duffy is also here. Duffy is working as an intern in the Office of the Senate Majority Leader this summer before heading off to be a freshman at the University of Notre Dame. His sister, our daughter Alison, is off at camp. I believe my sister Marian Harvey is here today, as well. Also joining me today are several friends, and several are from the veteran service community who remember we had a scrapping good time when Senator Simpson was Chairman. And there are others who are here, or who are, no doubt, listening to this hearing streaming over their computers, who are my very fine colleagues at the Department of Veterans Affairs. There is no finer group of civil servants than those at the VA. In a way, they are fortunate. They have a readily comprehensible mission, to administer a defined group of benefits, health care, various monetary benefits, and a dignified burial, to a certain group of people who did something special for this country. They donned the uniform and risked their lives to protect the freedoms we, as a Nation, enjoy. I have never worked with a group that so clearly understands their mission and so fully embraces it. I recently heard Warren Buffett say that at the age of 75, he still ``tap dances to work every day.'' Working with you, Mr. Chairman, and Members of your Committee, supporting a mission that is so noble, joined by professionals like that, I can tell you that, should I be confirmed for this position, I will be tap dancing to work every day. [The prepared statement of Mr. Harvey follows:] Prepared Statement of Thomas E. Harvey, Nominee to be Assistant Secretary for Congressional Affairs, Department of Veterans Affairs Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee. Thank you for the opportunity to appear before you this morning as the President's nominee for the position of Assistant Secretary for Congressional and Legislative Affairs at the Department of Veterans Affairs. I am honored to be nominated to that position by the President, and I appreciate the confidence shown in me by Secretary Jim Nicholson as he has supported that nomination. I was pleased when Secretary Nicholson asked me to return to the Department of Veterans Affairs to ``help him out'' when he was newly appointed Secretary. Having served for 5 years as Chief Counsel and Staff Director of this Committee under the Chairmanship of Senator Al Simpson, I felt that I was aware of many of the valid concerns Members of Congress had with regard to the VA. I felt that with that background, I could help VA better respond to those concerns. Having served for 3 years as the Deputy Administrator of the Veterans' Administration, I felt that I knew how those issues and concerns affected that agency and hoped that I would be able to help the VA understand and respond to Congressional needs. As a Vietnam combat veteran, serving two-and-a-half years there as an Army infantry officer, I also felt that I understood something about this country's veterans. I volunteered for duty in Vietnam. Many of my fellow Vietnam veterans did not have that choice. They were young and out of school. They were drafted, and they served selflessly and courageously in that conflict--because that is what their country asked of them. Tom Brokaw spoke of those who served in World War II as the ``Greatest Generation'' in his book of that name written some 50 years after the end of that conflict. I have every expectation that the Vietnam War will provide just such fodder to our own children when they write about us some years hence. Mr. Chairman, should I have the honor of being confirmed for this position, I hope that I can effectively serve this Administration, the dedicated professionals I have been blessed to work with at the VA over the years, and, most significantly, this country's veterans. I am accompanied by my wife, Cathie Black, and by my son Duffy Harvey today. Our daughter, Alison, is away at camp. I am also joined by a number of friends. And there are others who are here, or no doubt listening to this hearing streaming over their computers, who are my very fine colleagues at the Department of Veterans Affairs. There is no finer group of civil servants than those at the VA. In a way, they are fortunate. They have a readily comprehensible mission--to administer a defined group of benefits--health care, various monetary benefits, and a dignified burial--to a certain group of people who did something special for this country. They donned the uniform and risked their lives to protect the freedoms we, as a Nation, enjoy. I have never worked with a group that so clearly understands their mission and so fully embraces it. I recently heard Warren Buffett say that, at the age of 75, he still ``tap dances to work every day.'' Working with you, Mr. Chairman, and Members of your Committee--supporting a mission that is so noble-- joined by professionals like that--I can tell you that, should I be confirmed for this position, I will be tap dancing to work every day. [GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] T9718.001 [GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] T9718.002 [GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] T9718.003 [GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] T9718.004 [GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] T9718.005 [GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] T9718.006 Senator Craig. Alright, Tom, we will hold you to that. I am quite sure if the Secretary does not cause you to tap dance, we will. With that, let me turn to Rear Admiral Patrick Dunne, nominated as Assistant Secretary for Policy and Planning, please proceed. STATEMENT OF REAR ADMIRAL PATRICK W. DUNNE (RET.), U.S. NAVY, NOMINEE TO BE ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR POLICY AND PLANNING, DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS Admiral Dunne. Mr. Chairman, Senator Murray, good morning. Thank you for the opportunity to testify today. I am honored and humbled to have been nominated by President Bush to serve as Assistant Secretary for Policy and Planning at the Department of Veterans Affairs. I am also most grateful to Secretary Jim Nicholson for his confidence in me. For the past 33 years, it was my privilege to serve in the U.S. Navy. During my many tours at sea on submarines and ashore in many different homeports, I developed a deep respect and appreciation for the personnel who serve in our Armed Forces and their families. Time and again, they displayed the Honor, Courage and Commitment that makes our Armed Forces the greatest in the world. As time marches on, they too will become veterans. So I am inspired by them to tackle the challenges of the mission of the Department of Veterans Affairs, ``To care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan.'' If confirmed, I look forward to joining the team of professionals at the Department of Veterans Affairs to accomplish this mission. I am confident my experience in the Navy has given me the skills to lead and contribute effectively. I realize I will have much to learn about the Department of Veterans Affairs and all the issues that are of concern to our veterans. The Assistant Secretary for Policy and Planning is responsible to provide advice and counsel to the Secretary and other senior leaders on corporate policy and strategic planning. If confirmed, I will become thoroughly familiar with the issues facing the Department and give my very best effort to work diligently and faithfully advise the Secretary and Deputy Secretary. Mr. Chairman, I would like to formally introduce my wife Diane; daughter Erin and son Patrick; my mother Catherine; my wife's parents Donald and Eileen Ramroth; and three cousins, Kevin, John and Tom Dunne. I would like to note that John just returned from working with the State Department for a year in Iraq. We are very proud of him. I am very grateful for my family's constant love and support. Thank you again, Mr. Chairman, for your consideration of my nomination and I would be happy to answer any questions you may have. [The prepared statement of Admiral Dunne follows:] Prepared Statement of Rear Admiral Patrick W. Dunne (Ret.), U.S. Navy, Nominee to be Assistant Secretary for Policy and Planning, Department of Veterans Affairs Mr. Chairman, Senator Akaka, and Members of the Committee, good morning. Thank you for the opportunity to testify today. I am honored and humbled to be nominated by President Bush to serve as Assistant Secretary for Policy and Planning at the Department of Veterans Affairs. I am also most grateful to Secretary Jim Nicholson for his confidence in me. For the past 33 years, it was my privilege to serve in the United States Navy. During my many tours at sea on submarines and ashore in many different homeports, I developed a deep respect and appreciation for the personnel who serve in our Armed Forces--and their families. Time and again they displayed the Honor, Courage and Commitment that makes our Armed Forces the greatest in the world. As time marches on, they too will become Veterans. So I am inspired by them to tackle the challenges of the mission of the Department of Veterans Affairs--``To care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan.'' If confirmed, I look forward to joining the team of professionals at the Department of Veterans Affairs to accomplish that mission. I am confident my experience in the Navy has given me the skills to lead and contribute effectively. I realize I will have much to learn about the Department of Veterans Affairs and all the issues that are of concern to our Veterans. The Assistant Secretary for Policy and Planning is responsible to provide advice and counsel to the Secretary and other senior leaders on corporate policy and strategic planning. If confirmed, I will become thoroughly familiar with the issues facing the Department and give my very best effort to work diligently, and faithfully advise the Secretary and Deputy Secretary. With me today are my wife, Diane, my daughter, Erin and son, Patrick and his wife, Amy; my mother, Catherine, and my wife's parents, Donald and Eileen Ramroth. I am very grateful for their constant love and support. Thank you again, Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee, for your consideration of my nomination. I would be happy to answer any questions you may have. [GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] T9718.007 [GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] T9718.008 [GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] T9718.009 [GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] T9718.010 [GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] T9718.011 [GRAPHIC] [TIFF OMITTED] T9718.012 Senator Craig. Well, thank you both very much. Let us turn to questions. Senator Murray, in her opening comments really appropriately staged some of the questions and some of the concerns that we have. Admiral Dunne, let me start with you. As you are well aware, the Office of Policy and Planning was the focal point of much of the investigation into the theft of data from the home of one of the office's employees. Congress and the American public have one eye on VA's data system and the people who have access to that data. If you are confirmed to the position, do you have any immediate plans to make changes in the office's functions, security procedures, or policies to ensure that such a data breach never happens again? Also, what do you intend to do to make sure the appropriate communication system is in place should a situation like this ever arise again? Admiral Dunne. Mr. Chairman, thank you for that question. I am aware of the problem and I have read the Inspector General's report and I plan to work hard at the communications aspect of it. I believe the team needs to be reinvigorated and provided with leadership. I have met many of the people and I am convinced that they are very dedicated and they are anxious to do the right thing. I am convinced that it is important to step in and begin executing the Secretary's plan, which he briefed the Committee on last week, and make that effective as soon as possible. I believe there are three areas we need to look at: One, is technology and taking a look at those parts of technology that will allow us to safeguard the data. We need to put into place those policies and procedures which will allow the people to work effectively with the data that they must work with. And finally, to have effective training which will allow those dedicated people to understand the significance of the data that they are working with. I liken it to my experience in the Navy working with top secret material, and the culture needs to be changed so that everyone that handles the veterans' data, understands that in my mind, it has the same significance as the top secret material that I handled in the Department of Defense. It is essential that the data be available to be used in order to forecast and be able to enhance the impact of our veterans' benefits. In order to do that, we have to treat that data properly and with the right amount of security. Senator Craig. I appreciate those comments and thoughts and it appears that you have given this considerable thought. There has been a lot of criticism of VA in general, and the Office of Policy and Planning specifically. What has come out of the data theft is that there is not a culture that used the information that is constantly passing though its hands as sensitive. VA employees, especially those in Policy and Planning, are if you will, desensitized as to the privacy of the information and how it might be used if it got out in the public domain. So I ask the question, you have partly answered it, but how can you create a culture in the Office of Policy and Planning that is more sensitive to the importance of the information that passes through on a daily basis? I heard you suggest that you liken it to the kind of secure information that high-level government officials operate under. Are there rules and punishments that would accompany those rules and understandings of what would result from breaches of that information? Admiral Dunne. Yes, sir. I believe that there are and will be effective rules in place for which people will be trained. They will be held accountable for them, and if necessary, disciplinary action taken. I believe that the Secretary has taken effective action initially, by giving the authority to the Chief Information Officer to act on security incidents and make the leaders at the VA aware of any breaches of those rules which occur so that the leaders can take appropriate and timely actions when these occur. Senator Craig. Thank you. Senator Murray. Senator Murray. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Let me follow up on what the Chairman just talked about. I think what we have heard on this Committee over and over again is the culture change that is needed, the tremendous need for leadership, and a new management style. Can you describe for us what your management style is--what kind of leadership style you have? Admiral Dunne. Yes, Senator, I can attempt to do that. I would say it is one that is based on involvement, based on setting high standards, verifying that those standards are being executed and holding people accountable for it basically. Senator Murray. Is it your intent to go in very first day and establish that leadership? Admiral Dunne. Absolutely. They will know that I am there on day one. Senator Murray. As a result of a lot of things that have happened from budget issues to loss of that sensitive data, veterans across the country are questioning, for the first time ever, the leadership at the VA. How do you reestablish that trust with them? How do they know that you are going to be in that office making sure that decisions are made every single day that say that veterans are first? How will they see that? Admiral Dunne. Senator, that will be a day by day improvement. We will get better one day at a time. As we work with that very important data to develop the analysis which VA needs, it will become evident as we are able to process that data and get the right information forecasting and the right evaluation of our programs so that the veterans will see it in improved services, improved understanding of their benefits, improved outreach, and figure out why people are leaving the vocational rehab program. We will solve those problems when we are able to effectively use the data by putting the proper security in place. So therefore, we focus on serving our veterans because the culture has been changed, and it is instinctive that we protect that data. We are not spending time trying to figure out how to protect the data, we are spending time on figuring out how to serve our veterans. Senator Murray. What will the signal be that veterans can see across the country that assures them from day one that you are their advocate? Admiral Dunne. The signal from day one--I am not sure that they can all fit in the room with me day one to see from the start how I am going to take charge and make sure that we put the plan into effect. But I will definitely make the effort to talk to the VSOs, et cetera, and explain to them what I plan to do. I will be happy to brief anyone on what we are doing and how we are making progress at any time, Senator. Senator Murray. I want to know that you understand how much the world is questioning everything right now, just with the data theft alone. Looking at information trickling out about how--the veterans are getting letters saying that their data may be breached, then they are told that they would have credit checks for a year, and then they are told that they are not going to have credit checks for a year. Just from that alone, not to mention the budget that was not accurate, veterans waiting in long lines, and really they are beginning to mistrust the direction at the VA. So talk to me a little bit about how you see the world out there and how you can reestablish the trust? Admiral Dunne. Senator, when my friends and associates became aware that I had been nominated for this position, what they spoke to me about was data management. That was their concern; go in and fix that problem. I am convinced that if we execute the Secretary's plan, if I go in there and show leadership and get the culture changing, people understanding what is required of them, that will spread. People will talk by word of mouth. It will get around. If you go into the VA right now, people are aware of the change in culture. It is brought up at just about every meeting. The emphasis is on it and that will spread and people will understand that we are serious. The Secretary talks to us about it all the time. Senator Murray. Thank you. Senator Craig. Thank you very much. Let me close with you, Admiral, and say that there will be another conduit for you to express to the public your accomplishments in changing the culture of the VA and that is right here. We are very intent, as is the House Committee, on working with you and the Secretary and the VA in general to get this right. The Veterans' Administration, for a good number of years, has been constantly warned of the absence of the culture, the absence of the protocol, the absence of the protections in the way they handle their information. As a result of that inherent problem that we have all worked through in the last several months, you are coming to a VA at a time, in all fairness, that is going to be watched very closely. I do not mean to place extra burden upon your shoulder, but only to remind you that it is there. This Committee will stay focused and work with you to assure that this happens, because we believe it is necessary to transform the culture down there and to the one you are speaking about. Tom, let me turn to you. Let me stay on this theme, because I think one of the frustrations that came out of this was timeliness and notification of all of us as it relates to how certain things were or were not handled, and that has a touch of Congressional relations to it. Of course, you have had tremendous experience here on the Hill and you know how important it is for the VA and the committees, both on the House and Senate side, to have a close working relationship, quick turnaround on information and requests as it relates to our work with constituents and constituent groups, VSOs, as we work on behalf of America's veterans. Talk to me for a few moments and to the Committee about those relationships and the timeliness of them and the importance of the contact with staff and with the members of the appropriate committees. Mr. Harvey. Mr. Chairman, I very much look forward to working closely with your staff and the staff of a few various members on a regular basis just so we have an ongoing dialogue. I think we have developed that pretty well. I was subjected to verbal abuse by the Chief Counsel recently and he made it clear to me that I had overstepped my boundaries in some very significant way. Senator Craig. I hope he was not too abusive. Mr. Harvey. Oh, no, he was not too abusive. But I think what we have is a relationship where he does not hesitate to pick up the phone and call me. I said to the Secretary when I began this job, I said that I hope I will be able to spend part--at least part of a day every week up here on the Hill just talking to people because there is a certain amount of stuff that you find out from just talking to people. If you find out that something is an irritant, it can be taken care of before it becomes a crisis. I think I am well on my way to doing that. I certainly hope so. I have been working with your staff for the better part of a year now, but I have known Bill Brew, the Staff Director for the Minority, since 1981 when I first became Staff Director here, under then Leader, Senator Alan Cranston. I think we have that open flow of conversation and I look forward to keeping that up. It makes my job easier, as well as it makes it easier for you and for your staff to be responsive to your concerns. Something else I have, which I am sure you are aware of, is we have people in the Office of Congressional Liaison. We have people here on the Hill who try to be responsive, and immediately responsive to Members and their concerns if something comes up. They follow up, they let us know down in the central office, do I need to be responsive in the next 24 hours or do I need to be responsive right away. They seem to do a pretty good job and that is validated by some of my conversations with some of the staff of the Members of this Committee. Senator Craig. Thank you, Tom. Senator Murray. Senator Murray. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Admiral Dunne, we have 1.3 million new names on the veteran database, can you tell me what your plans are to make sure that they are cared for? Admiral Dunne. Yes, Senator, I can. The Office of Policy and Planning has the responsibility to provide forecasting to the various administrations within the VA so that they can prepare for the future. So we need to be able to take the data that is handled in that office and be able to describe the demographics of our veterans day in and day out. We need to be able to update it periodically and have good information, so that as the Administration, whether it be VHA, VBA, or the Cemetery Administration, as they forecast what their needs will be for the future, we can support them with good analytical data. Senator Murray. Be specific. Tell me what you plan to do for traumatic brain injury. Admiral Dunne. For traumatic brain injury, there would be the opportunity to conduct a study under the auspices of VHA that would tell us what medical factors, et cetera, would need to be evaluated, whether it was a survey or otherwise. They would collect all the data and have it available for analysis so they can make a medical evaluation. Senator Murray. Is that not available now? Admiral Dunne. There is some data available. I would expect more would be available over time as more of our veterans and active duty personnel are treated. Senator Murray. If, for example, you saw that a number of traumatic brain injured soldiers are living in remote areas, what would your plan be to deal with it? Admiral Dunne. That would require a recommendation of options to VHA and to the Secretary about how they could deal with that and make sure that our veterans had the opportunity to have access to the care that they would need. Senator Murray. Even if that was a costly recommendation, are you ready to make that? Admiral Dunne. The recommendation that I would make would be based on the data that we accumulated and that would be my duty to the Secretary to tell him what our veterans need. Senator Murray. How about PTSD? Admiral Dunne. The same thing with PTSD. Senator Murray. And if you found that we were not serving veterans adequately and efficiently, are you prepared to come to us and tell us that we need to find more resources--to tell your Administration it needs to find more resources? Admiral Dunne. I would not be reluctant to voice my concern for what was needed for our veterans based on the information that we have. Senator Murray. Are you aware of the waiting lines that we have in the medical centers today? Admiral Dunne. I am aware that there are some waiting lines. Yes, Senator, I am. Senator Murray. Have you thought in any way about how we can shorten these? Admiral Dunne. Yes, Senator, I have. I believe I can make the Office of Policy and Planning expertise available to Admiral Cooper and VBA, to help him with process analysis of how they are handling the claims, et cetera, and work with him in order to continue to reduce that time line and make it more timely, as I know is already his goal. Senator Murray. How about waiting lines for benefits? Are you aware of how long they are? Admiral Dunne. I am aware that it approaches 180 days. I believe we can take a look at things similar to Web applications, and for those veterans who are proficient at using computers, that would speed up the process. For those veterans who chose to apply in person instead of on the Web, the line would be shorter, et cetera. It is still the same volume, but handling it through different processes using technology, or other elements, in order to make things go as fast as humanly possible. Senator Murray. I am sure you are aware of the challenges with budget requests to Congress over the last year and a half, how do you plan to make sure that we get a realistic budget based on real needs and the cost of health care today? Admiral Dunne. Once again, Senator, it is making our Office of Policy and Planning's analytical capability available to the Office of Management as they prepare the budget and help them with economic forecasting, in which we have experts that will provide them those economic forecasts and allow them to factor that into their model as they prepare the budget. Senator Murray. So you really want to do this? Admiral Dunne. Yes, Senator, I do. I think it is a very important mission, and I am very hopeful to be confirmed and have the opportunity to serve. Senator Murray. Mr. Harvey, I do not mean to ignore you, but your skills in dealing with Senator Simpson, I think are good background for having to deal with many of us, and I assure you, I will not ignore you once you are in office. Mr. Harvey. I am sure you will not. Senator Craig. Gentlemen, I have no further questions other than several necessary ones that are pro forma questions that are asked. Before I ask those, I confer with Senator Murray. My style is different than former Senator Alan Simpson. That means we are different in how we approach things. But I always liken Senator Simpson, when he would walk by a sleeping dragon, he would stick his finger in his eye to determine whether it was fire breathing or not fire breathing. I have learned over time that sleeping dragons ought to be allowed to continue to sleep until such time as they awaken, then you have to deal with them. He still holds a fascinating reputation here in the U.S. Senate. Gentlemen, let me ask you some necessary and pro forma questions that are important for the record. You can respond to them individually or jointly. Do you have any conflicts of interest that you have not fully disclosed to the Committee or do you know of any other matters which, if known to the Committee, might affect the Committee's recommendations to the Senate with respect to your nominations? Mr. Harvey. No, Senator, I do not. Admiral Dunne. No, sir. Senator Craig. Have you fully and accurately provided financial and other information requested by the Committee and do you now affirm that information is complete, accurate, and provided in a form not designed to evade? Mr. Harvey. Yes, Senator, I have done that. Admiral Dunne. Yes, sir. Senator Craig. Do you agree to supply the Committee such non-privileged information, materials and documents as may be requested by the Committee in its oversight and legislative capacities for as long as you shall serve in the position for which you now seek confirmation? Mr. Harvey. Yes, Senator, I do. Let me just parenthetically mention that just the day before yesterday, in a conversation with our Deputy Secretary Gordon Mansfield, he mentioned how significant a role this process is. He said, ``You know, this is the U.S. Constitution at work. You have been nominated by the President and the Senate is now preparing to give its advice and consent on that.'' He said, ``Think of it as something that is very serious.'' I do, and it was helpful that Gordon mentioned that and just sort of refreshed it in our minds because it is something serious that we do. Admiral Dunne. Mr. Chairman, I will. Senator Craig. Do you agree to appear before the Committee at such times and concerning such matters that the Committee might request for as long as you serve in the position for which you are seeking confirmation? Mr. Harvey. Yes, sir. Admiral Dunne. Yes, sir. Senator Craig. Gentlemen, thank you very much for being with us this morning. We are pleased you brought your families with you. As was mentioned, we are going to move as expeditiously as we can. It is critically important that we fill these positions and get the VA up to speed and, Admiral, in the capacity that you will move into upon confirmation, there has been a void of leadership in that position for some time. At this moment in time, I think the Congress is focused on the reality of the problem you are now in charge of dealing with and it is a huge task. At the same time, for the short term and the long term, it is a critical task. When the Secretary was before us last week, I charged him or his successor with the challenge of coming back and being able to hold up a Business Week magazine article that speaks about the quality of VA's IT and how it is managed and controlled as the example the rest of Government ought to follow, as is the case of medical records today at VA, and how the rest of both the public and private medical world is wanting to follow. If you can meet that challenge, you will have accomplished a great deal. We know that it will not be done overnight. We recognize it is a time and place process, but I was just thinking that if you grew up under the tutelage of Admiral Rickover, and certainly your experience would suggest to me that you did, that was all about process and it was all about discipline. And that is how he built one of the most successful nuclear navies in the history of the world. That kind of tutelage prepares you well for this position. Thank you both very much for being with us and, as I have said, we will move as expeditiously as we can toward your confirmation. Thank you. The Committee will stand adjourned. [Whereupon, at 10:53 a.m. the Committee was adjourned.] A P P E N D I X __________ Prepared Statement of Allan E. Goodman, President and CEO, Institute of International Education I have the privilege of serving as president of the Nation's oldest and largest educational exchange organization, the Institute of International Education (IIE), and the good fortune of having a son-in- law, Dr. John Dooley, who interned for Senator Frist and now practices Internal Medicine at the VA Hospital in Washington. IIE has the honor to administer the Fulbright Program on behalf of the Department of State and has done so since its inception. The Institute has also found itself on the front lines of the war against learning; since 1920, we have been engaged in rescuing scholars. We have helped over 10,000 to reach safe haven and continue their work for the benefit of humankind. Many have gone on to win Nobel Prizes. This year, Senator Patrick Leahy and Lord Browne of Madingley have nominated the Institute for the Nobel Peace Prize. For 7 years (1998-2005), Thomas Harvey served as the Institute's Senior Counselor for Government Affairs. He did so with consistent excellence and complete dedication to our mission of ``Opening Minds to the World'' and to the Fulbright Program's goal of fostering mutual understanding. He is, in my view, an exemplary servant of causes and needs in the public interest. The needs of veterans have never been far from Tom's mind. Over the more than twenty years that I have known him, Tom has taken a special interest in those who, as a result of being wounded, confront special and considerable challenges navigating daily life and holding a job. He has empathy--and a sharp eye for the public and private accommodations that need to be made to ensure that veterans and their families are honored and helped in America. The offices of the Department of Veterans Affairs have always been in Tom's eye, too. The Institute's Washington, DC offices are three blocks from VA headquarters. And as I pass the VA building these days and read what is written above the door, I think about the perfect fit between what President Abraham Lincoln said the Veterans' Administration should do--``To care for him who has borne the battle, and for his widow and his orphan''--and the energy, integrity, and commitment to that mission, Tom will, if confirmed, bring to his post. He is just the kind of person to help lead the Department of Veterans Affairs. Tom Harvey knows what their service--and his--is all about. ______ Prepared Statement of David W. Gorman, Executive Director, Disabled American Veterans On June 22, 2006, the President announced his intention to nominate our friend and Disabled American Veterans (DA Life Member Thomas Harvey of New York to be Assistant Secretary for Congressional Affairs, Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Your Committee has scheduled a hearing on July 26, 2006, to consider that nomination. We write in full support of Mr. Harvey's nomination, and urge his early confirmation by the full Senate. As a distinguished disabled veteran and a Life Member of our organization, Mr. Harvey and his qualifications to serve are well known to the DAV. He served as an infantry officer in the United States Army from 1966 to his honorable discharge in 1985; during his combat service in Vietnam, Mr. Harvey was decorated with the Silver Star and Purple Heart for his valorous actions. Mr. Harvey currently serves as Acting Assistant Secretary for Congressional Affairs at VA. Prior his current VA appointment, he served as Senior Counsel for the Institute of International Education York. Earlier in his career, Mr. Harvey served as Chief Counsel and Staff Director for your own Committee under Chairman Alan K. Simpson of Wyoming. Among his many accomplishments during that tenure was Congressional passage of the Veterans Eligibility Reform Act of 1996, Public Law 104-262, one of the most significant acts of Congress dealing with veteran's health care enacted since World War II. Mr. Harvey was a lead negotiator on that key legislation that has aided millions of sick and disabled veterans in living better, healthier lives. On examination of his credentials and background, we believe the Senate will find Mr. Harvey to be immanently qualified for the position of trust for which has been nominated. As a wounded and combat veteran, former Senate staff director and counsel, former Deputy Administrator of Veterans Affairs, and, to his current role at VA, Mr. Harvey has been an exemplar of fidelity, honesty and integrity. The DAV is proud to call Thomas Harvey a dear friend, and more importantly, a friend to America's veterans. The VA Secretary places a great deal of reliance on Mr. Harvey's advice and counsel, and we believe his influence on VA policy will only grow over time in his confirmed assignment as Assistant Secretary. In summary, Mr. Chairman, DAV wholeheartedly supports Thomas Harvey's confirmation. We hope your Committee will duly examine his qualifications and will subsequently report positively and unanimously his fitness to serve the Nation's veterans as Assistant VA Secretary for Congressional Affairs.