Opening Statement of W. Scott Gould
Deputy Secretary-designate of Veterans Affairs
Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs
United States Senate
April 1, 2009
Chairman Akaka, Senator Burr, Distinguished Members of the Committee on Veterans Affairs: Thank you for scheduling this hearing so expeditiously. I am honored to be before you today seeking your endorsement to become the Deputy Secretary of VA.
During the past several weeks, I have had the opportunity to benefit from the Committee's advice and guidance about how to better serve our Veterans and accomplish the mission of the Department. Your support for strong leadership, open communication and positive results for veterans came across in a bipartisan manner.
I am honored by President Obama's nomination to serve as the Deputy Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs. And I deeply appreciate the confidence that President Obama and Secretary Shinseki have in me to help accomplish their vision of transforming the VA into a 21st century organization.
I am acutely aware that transformation is a challenging task -- particularly in an organization as large, complex and steeped in tradition as is Veterans Affairs. We faced similar challenges when I was at Treasury with Internal Revenue Service modernization and at Commerce with National Weather Service modernization efforts in the 1990s. We have dealt with the challenges of transformation and innovation in the private sector at IBM--challenges still ongoing today, because, in truth, transformation of large organizations is hard work rarely ever complete. It is an ongoing effort to serve, to improve and to meet the needs of clients. My previous experiences, however, give me confidence that the goal of transformation can be achieved by VA employees with strong leadership, teamwork and especially the continued help and support of this Committee.
If confirmed, I will join Secretary Shinseki in the Department's efforts to refine and implement a basic strategy: to create a people centric, results oriented, forward looking organization. As the Secretary has already articulated before this Committee, VA will:
If confirmed as Deputy Secretary, I will help lead the VA to accomplish this vision in three ways. First, by synchronizing the people, process and technology necessary to implement the strategy. Second, by transforming the personnel, budget, acquisition and IT systems that will enable modernization. And third, by overseeing the planning, execution and results of modernization by the main operating units including VHA, VBA and NCA. This will require leadership, good communication, investment in our civil service and team work among the VA's many internal and external stakeholders - including the VSOs. It will also require attention to a range of important near-term initiatives. These include:
And it will require accountability for our actions to the public.
In conclusion, if this Committee chooses to confirm me, I will join a team that shares a strong desire to serve veterans and is committed to transform the Department into a 21st century organization focused on the Nation's Veterans as its clients. I thank this committee for its long history of unwavering, bipartisan commitment to Veterans. If confirmed, I look forward to working closely with you to fulfill that commitment.
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