Mr. KERRY. Mr. President, I speak today to ask my colleagues to support the nomination of Mr. Harold Damelin, whom President Bush has nominated to serve as the next Inspector General, IG, of the U.S. Small Business Administration, (SBA). Mr. Damelin's extensive experience in and out of government makes him very well suited to this important position, and I look forward to working closely with him and his office.
As my colleagues are well aware, the IG post at any Federal agency is a critical oneassigned by Congress the duties of protecting taxpayer money, ensuring that laws are upheld, and investigating abuses within an agency. This is no less true at the SBA, which has played a vital role in helping to develop and foster small businesses and small business initiatives for the past 50 years.
The role of the IG is unique: someone who is above the political fray of other appointees, and someone who may even be called upon to investigate them. By their very nature, IG's must function independently and with a distinct authority, so it is no small amount of trust the President and the Congress must place in any IG. Additionally, an IG must possess not only managerial and policy experience, but should possess investigative experience as well. Fining such a candidate can be a difficult task.
Phyllis Fong, the former IG for the SBA, was recently confirmed as the IG for the Department of Agriculture, where I am sure she will continue to perform her official duties in a skillful, competent, and efficient manner. However, because of a delay in her confirmation, the IG position at the SBA was only recently vacated. Given this delay, coupled with the importance of the IG position, Senator SNOWE, the Chair of the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, and I have agreed to seek unanimous consent that Mr. Damelin's nomination be discharged from the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship and considered immediately by the full Senate.
In my capacity as ranking member, I have thoroughly reviewed Mr. Damelin's employment and educational experience, his FBI background check and the Committee questionnaire. Mr. Damelin has fully answered all questions put before him. As Mr. Damelin clearly possesses the necessary skills and experience to serve as the next SBA IG, I support moving forward with his nomination at this time.
Mr. Damelin, if confirmed by the Senate, will come to the SBA from the private sector, where he most recently worked as a lawyer for the firm of Powers, Pyles, Sutter and Verville in Washington, DC. Prior to joining the private sector, Mr. Damelin had a long and illustrious career as a public servant, holding such positions as the branch chief for the U.S. Department of Justice's Criminal Division, Fraud Section, Governmental Fraud Branch and the senior counsel to the majority for the Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs' Special Investigation Committee. I believe these experiences and others uniquely qualify Mr. Damelin to serve as the SBA's IG.
Mr. Damelin was born in Malden, in my home State of Massachusetts, although he now resides in Virginia. He attended Boston College and earned his JD from Boston College Law School, also my alma mater. Mr. Damelin was also a member of the Armed Forces, serving as a 2nd Lieutenant after college and attaining the rank of Captain in the Army Reserves before being honorably discharged with the rank of Captain. I am always pleased to see a fellow Bay Stater, and Eagle, dedicate his energies toward public service, and this is no exception.
Mr. Damelin's nomination also has the support of Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee Chair
I ask all of my colleagues to vote in favor of Mr. Damelin's nomination to be the next Inspector General of the U.S. Small Business Administration.