[Congressional Record Volume 140, Number 150 (Tuesday, December 20, 1994)]
[Extensions of Remarks]
[Page E]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]

[Congressional Record: December 20, 1994]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]



                           HON. GEORGE MILLER

                             of california

                    in the house of representatives

                       Tuesday, December 20, 1994

  Mr. MILLER of California. Mr. Speaker, the Bureau of Reclamation was 
created over 90 years ago as the Government agency dedicated to the 
goal of settling the West through the construction of dams, reservoirs, 
and canals for delivering irrigation water. This construction legacy on 
rivers throughout the Western United States will undoubtedly continue 
to produce reliable water supplies for many years.
  The realities of the changing needs of the West must be reflected in 
the mission of the resource development agencies that may have outlived 
their original purposes. In his 18 months as reclamation commissioner, 
Dan Beard has recognized this challenge and successfully transformed 
the Bureau of Reclamation into a water resource management agency and 
will be fully equipped to adapt to the changing water needs of the 
Western United States.

 Remarks of Daniel P. Beard, Commissioner, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation 
   Before the International Commission on Large Dams, Durban, South 
                        Africa, November 9, 1994

       Thank you for giving me this opportunity to address the 
     18th Congress of the International Commission on Large Dams 
       As most of you know, the United States Bureau of 
     Reclamation, the agency I direct, was founded as a 
     construction agency.
       The results of our work are well known.
       Hoover Dam, Glen Canyon Dam, Grand Coulee Dam, and other 
     works were monumental undertakings that are a source of pride 
     to our nation and our employees.
       In the last two years, however, we have come to the 
     realization that we must make significant changes in USBR's 
       It is these changes I would like to discuss with you today.
       There are several reasons why changes are taking place in 
       A premise for our program was the project costs would be 
     repaid. We now realize the significant construction and 
     operating costs of large-scale projects cannot be repaid.
       Our experience has shown that the actual costs of completed 
     projects substantially exceeded the original estimated costs, 
     and many project benefits were never realized. We lost our 
     credibility with the public and our political leadership 
     because we failed to accurately estimate project costs and 
       The USBR generally served the needs of a few agricultural 
     water users. We generally did not serve the needs of 
     expanding urban populations. The result was that the base of 
     support for our program declined.
       Over time, our operating experience has given us a more 
     clear appreciation for the secondary environmental impacts of 
     the large-scale water projects we developed. We were slow to 
     recognize those problems, and we are still learning how 
     severe they are and how to correct them.
       We have also come to realize there are many alternatives to 
     solving water problems that do not involve dam construction. 
     Non-structural alternatives are often less costly to 
     implement and can have fewer environmental impacts.
       What has been the result of these forces?
       The result is that the dam building era in the United 
     States is now over. We can no longer count on public or 
     political support for large, traditional construction 
     projects. Those projects we have underway will be completed 
     as quickly as possible. Any new construction will take place 
     only in small increments, narrowly targeted to meet well-
     defined, but limited, objectives. We now anticipate facing 
     the challenge of water management using the tools of the 
     ``Information Age''--improved data collection and modeling, 
     geographic information systems, and demand-side management 
       How have we in the USBR approached these turbulent times?
       We have become realistic about our future. We recognize our 
     budget and our staffing levels will decline, not increase, as 
     our program changes.
       In addition, we can't continue to do business the same old 
     way. President Clinton and Vice President Gore have initiated 
     a comprehensive program to reduce costs, eliminate 
     unnecessary paperwork, reduce personnel, and deliver a better 
     product in a shorter period of time. We have made a conscious 
     choice to be a leader in this effort.
       In brief, we needed to change and change quickly. And we 
       I initiated a top-to-bottom review of the agency which has 
     led to a significant restructuring last April.
       We've embraced a new philosophy of delegating day-to-day 
     operating decisions to field personnel. We will give them the 
     responsibility and authority to make decisions, within 
     established general policy, without coming to headquarters 
     for approval. We've also undertaken an aggressive 
     restructuring designed to eliminate layers of unnecessary 
     management and unnecessary practices.
       Although we've just begun, the results are impressive.
       We have reduced our budget request for this year by 12 
     percent--a $93 million reduction.
       Since May 1993, our staff level has been reduced by 
     approximately 1,000 positions, or 13 percent.
       We have reduced the number of senior level managers.
       Our field offices have been given significant new authority 
     and responsibility.
       Our Denver office has been significantly altered. The new 
     organization, now called the Reclamation Service Center 
     (RSC), will be a customer service organization working for 
     other parts of USBR.
       In Denver and our regional offices, we have reduced at 
     least two layers of management.
       Finally, we have launched a series of new program 
     initiatives, including expanded efforts in wastewater 
     reclamation and resuse, an conservation.
       One final note about the participation of the USBR in 
     international activities. My attendance at this conference is 
     not a coincidence. We have been an active participant in 
     ICOLD affairs since it was founded. Previous Commissioners 
     have been very supportive, and many USBR employees serve on 
       The USBR will remain an active participant in the affairs 
     of ICOLD. This organization offers all of us an opportunity 
     to discuss, debate, and consider new approaches to solving 
     the world's water resource problems. There is much we can 
     learn from one another, and we want to continue that 
       As we seek to keep ourselves well informed, so should we 
     seek to maintain an open exchange of information and opinion 
     with all groups. USBR is committed to full disclosure of 
     information to the public. Open access to information will be 
     a hallmark of our operations, both domestic and 
       To President Pircher, Secretary General Cotillon, and 
     Congress Chairman Val Robbroeck, thank you for giving me the 
     opportunity to be with you this morning.
       I am enjoying participating in this Congress during my 
     first trip to South Africa. I look forward to meeting as many 
     of you as possible during the rest of the week.
       Thank you.