Remarks as Prepared for CEO Michael D. Smith at the December 2022 House Education and Labor Subcommittee Hearing
Michael D. Smith, the eighth CEO of AmeriCorps, testified before the House Education and Labor Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Investment hearing entitled “Examining the Policies and Priorities of the Corporation for National and Community Service” on December 14, 2022.
CEO Smith's remarks as delivered are below.
Chairs Scott and Wilson, Ranking Members Foxx and Miller-Meeks, and Members of the Subcommittee: thank you for the opportunity to testify today on our continued investment in sound financial management and internal controls at AmeriCorps.
As Chief Executive Officer, it is my duty to ensure AmeriCorps carries out national service laws and our mission effectively, equitably, and in a manner that responsibly stewards federal resources.
When I was confirmed almost one year ago, I found an agency facing significant challenges—the result of years of underinvestment in core business operations, infrastructure and staff development. These pre-existing issues, in addition to ongoing leadership and staff turnover, were exacerbated by the prior Administration's proposal to eliminate the agency.
Although these shortcomings did not happen on my watch, I am committed to putting AmeriCorps on a path to resolution.
I am approaching this challenge with eyes wide open, acknowledging that significant work remains and will take time to achieve.
Over the past year we have created a culture of shared accountability and our teams have worked to strengthen our core business functions.
First, we have restored strong and open communications with oversight leadership. I am grateful to our Inspector General for engaging in regular, candid communication about progress and challenges. I appreciate the leadership of the Chairman and Ranking Member for enabling my team to meet with Committee staff quarterly. And I welcome the accountability ensured by our newly appointed Board of Directors and its Oversight, Governance, and Audit Committee.
Second, we have invested in systems and internal controls to enhance effective financial stewardship and modernization of our IT infrastructure.
And third, we have invested in people—so that we can build and retain a diverse, skilled, and motivated workforce and maximize our impact in communities across the country
In response to the FY 2021 audit—and for the first time in agency history—AmeriCorps established centralized coordination for audit resolution, including development and tracking of agency corrective actions.
The agency has closed several audit recommendations, which are reflected in the FY 2022 audit, and we have completed activity on many additional recommendations, the results of which we expect to be reflected in future audits.
We are implementing reforms that are optimizing key financial management systems and processes within a shared service environment under the Department of Treasury’s Administrative Resource Center—a partnership that was expanded to complete the migration to shared services under a single financial platform.
We won $14 million from the Technology Modernization Fund, a multi-year investment.
And this fall I brought on Irv Dennis as Senior Advisor to the CEO on Financial Reform. Following a 37-year career at Ernst & Young, Mr. Dennis served as Chief Financial Officer at HUD, where his efforts led to the agency’s first unqualified audit opinion in eight years.
As we focused our efforts this year on investing in people and systems, AmeriCorps has continued to deliver for the American people.
Today, there are more than 200,000 AmeriCorps members and AmeriCorps Seniors volunteers serving in nearly 40,000 locations across the country.
They provided COVID-related support to millions of Americans.
They are boosting academic achievement in 12,000 schools and bridging public health gaps.
They are providing independent living services to 365,000 older- Americans.
They are conserving public lands and waters and preparing young people for future green jobs.
They are supporting veterans and military families.
And they are also actively responding to natural disasters across the country.
Right now, for example, nearly 200 AmeriCorps members are deployed in Florida and Puerto Rico, working in partnership with FEMA and other local agencies, in the wake of devastating hurricanes. Our teams remain in hard-hit communities for years after a major disaster.
With support from Congress, we will continue to harness the unlimited power of service and civic engagement to improve lives and strengthen communities in greatest need.
Thank you for the opportunity to testify. I am happy to respond to any questions you may have.