Ted Kaufman - United States Senator for Delaware

Sen. Kaufman Recognizes Great Federal Employees from the Government Accountability Office: Cathleen Berrick and Cynthia Bascetta

May 13, 2010

Madam President, I rise today to speak once more about our Nation's great Federal employees.

Henry Clay once said:

Government is a trust, and the officers of the government are trustees; and both the trust and trustees are created for the benefit of the people.

Every dollar of the taxpayers' money that we in Congress spend on their behalf must be accounted for and every program rigorously audited to prevent waste and fraud. That job belongs to the tireless and persistent employees of the Government Accountability Office.

Since its founding in 1921, the GAO has been called ``the taxpayers' best friend.'' It is the people's watchdog, the home of over 3,000 Federal employees whose main task is to save the American people money by analyzing how public funds are spent. They make recommendations to Congress on how best to eliminate waste and make programs more efficient. If our elected officials have been entrusted to guard over public business, surely it is the men and women of the GAO who, in the words of the ancient adage, ``watch over the guardians.''

Today, I want to highlight the achievements of two outstanding employees of the GAO.

Cathleen Berrick: Managing Director, GAO for Homeland Security and Justice

Cathleen Berrick has spent her whole career as a public servant. First in the Office of the Inspector General at the Pentagon and with the Air Force Audit Agency, and later with the Postal Service's Inspector General and the GAO, Cathleen has been at the forefront of ensuring the accountability of government for many years.

As a Managing Director at the GAO for Homeland Security and Justice, she has led comprehensive analyses of potential security vulnerabilities at the Transportation Security Agency and suggested key improvements.

In 2008, when assigned to review the plan for the TSA's Secure Flight Program, which screens air passengers against terrorist watch lists, Cathleen identified flaws and offered sound recommendations. She also conducted studies and authored reports recommending more oversight in how we secure our Nation's mass-transit systems and passenger rail.

Cathleen has testified before congressional committees over 20 times and has proven to be an expert resource for policymakers.

Cynthia Bascetta: Director for Health Care, Government Accountability Office

The second person whose story I will share is Cynthia Bascetta. Cynthia had worked for the GAO for 30 years when she was set to retire. However, the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina caused her to delay her retirement, and she decided to remain in public service.

As the GAO's Director for Health Care, Cynthia leads two major reviews of public health care infrastructure in New Orleans to ensure recovery funds are being spent wisely and for the greatest benefit. In her three decades of service at the GAO, she has fought to improve Federal disability policies, urged making HIV treatment and prevention a national priority, and recommended changes to Social Security that helped beneficiaries return to work without losing health care benefits.

One of the areas of focus throughout Cynthia's career has been improving care for our wounded veterans. She testified at the first congressional hearing to investigate the conditions at Walter Reed Medical Center, and her reviews were critical in understanding where changes needed to be made.

Conclusion

Since we passed the Recovery Act last year, the GAO has been preparing reports every 60 days on how funds are being used. Cynthia has been working recently as the GAO's State lead for Illinois, carefully reviewing every dollar from the Recovery Act being spent there.

Madam President, employees of the GAO continue to ensure government programs work for the American people. They remain ever-vigilant to ensure all of our public funds are spent wisely and carefully.

I hope my colleagues will join me in thanking Cathleen Berrick, Cynthia Bascetta, and all of the outstanding public servants at the Government Accountability Office for their service to our Nation. They are all truly great Federal employees.

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