WASHINGTON – Colorado Director of Public Safety C. Suzanne “Sue” Mencer drew praise from a Senate committee considering her nomination as the first director of the Office of Domestic Preparedness for the Homeland Security Department.
Mencer,who was nominated in May by President Bush,answered questions at a hearing of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee Sept. 16. The committee will vote later this month on the nomination. If the committee approves the nomination,it will be referred to the Senate for a final vote.
“I just hope it goes well,” Mencer said in an interview after the hearing. “I look forward to the challenge,and I will do the best I can for the country.”
The ODP director will be responsible for helping state and local governments prevent,plan for and respond to acts of terrorism,said Sen. Susan Collins,R-Maine,the committee chairman. The ODP will also be responsible for distributing federal money to states,cities and agencies that respond first to crises.
Before her appointment by Colorado Gov. Bill Owens three years ago,Mencer spent 20 years at the FBI,as an agent and administrator. She said she focused on international and domestic terrorism and intelligence issues. She also spent two years as a private consultant concerning domestic terrorism.
Mencer,whose husband,son and other relatives attended the hearing,told the committee that her experiences with terrorism issues at many levels of government give her a deep understanding of how the nation will need to prepare itself against terrorism.
“Terrorists are not restricted by city,county or state lines,and we need to prepare accordingly,” she said. If confirmed,she said she would ensure that federal funds would be “directed and applied throughout the United States to reap the greatest benefit to detect,deter and respond to a terrorist act.”
Colorado Sens. Wayne Allard and Ben Nighthorse Campbell,both Republicans,strongly recommended Mencer to the committee.
Allard said that Mencer’s help in opening the Office of Preparedness,Security and Fire Safety in Colorado and her years at the FBI were strong qualifications.
“She will bring the same common sense that she has shown in Colorado,” he said.
The committee questioned her positions on federal funding for states and her dedication to reducing paperwork. She said streamlining the process for requesting funding is something that the department should strive for.
In response to criticism by Collins over current allocations to states based on population rather than need,Mencer said that,if confirmed,she will “carefully asses this whole area of funding that does not just include a simplistic view of the population.”
Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg,D-N.J.,also endorsed Mencer.
“We've got a very good nominee,” he said,“and I'm sure she will pass with flying colors.
“We're sure you will lend excellent leadership to this position,” he then said to her.