I know that some people want to declare the Jaczko era over and to move on to other items, but there is still a good deal of information about the reign and its long term effects that has not been fully exposed or discussed. Though Jaczko and his patrons have declared that the OFFICIAL USE ONLY – OIG INVESTIGATION report is an exoneration, the reality is quite different.
Though the report is long and full of boring bureaucratic details that can be described as “he said – she said”, it paints a picture of an isolated man surrounded by highly qualified individuals who all somehow formed similar negative opinions about his methods. Most of those independent individuals are far too polite and politically aware to question Jaczko’s motives, but I have no such limitations. As numerous recent articles have shown, Jaczko’s primary assignment was to kill Yucca Mountain – all of the bluster about concerns for nuclear safety were just a cover story.
There is one section of the IG report that I would like to share because it shows that even people with similar political tendencies were able to see that Jaczko was violating the intent of the law and exceeding his delineated authority. This excerpt shows that Jaczko was trying to run the NRC as a fiefdom instead of as a commission of qualified professionals who each have a personal responsibility to enable the availability of safe nuclear energy.
Allegation #3 in the IG report was that Chairman Jaczko improperly attempted to control the content and the flow of information to the rest of the Commission. The OIG investigated to determine whether the Chairman’s control over matters to be presented to the Commission was in accordance with the authority granted to that office by the Reorganization Plan of 1980. The OIG took advantage of an interesting resource – the investigators interviewed President Jimmy Carter, the man who wrote the Reorganisation Plan and successfully led its enactment into law.
The documented results of that interview are worth quoting.
According to President Carter, the intent of the Reorganization Plan No. 1 of 1980 does not allow the Chairman to interfere with NRC staff proposals being submitted to the Commission for review and consideration. The Chairman should present the staff’s recommendations to the Commission as received and articulate his position separately, differing or not, to the Commission. This applied to policy and non-policy matters. President Carter thought it was misleading and inappropriate for the Chairman to direct the staff to adjust and/or change staff recommendations based on the Chairman’s desires. President Carter said the Chairman has the ability to state his position separately if he disagrees with the staff’s recommendations. This also holds true for individual Commissioners.
President Carter stated that the Reorganization Plan of 1980 gave the Chairman special authority, not extraordinary powers. OIG informed President Carter of the Chairman’s Commission agenda planning process and how the Chairman has the ability to control the flow of information to the Commission. President Carter advised that the Chairman has no right to obstruct, withhold, or delay the staff from presenting staff generated issues to the Commission; however, the staff cannot bypass the Chairman. President Carter recommended that the Commission should determine which matters are to be reviewed rather than a single Commissioner determining if a matter is administrative or policy in nature.
President Carter stated the staff should not work exclusively with the Chairman in development of policy. The Commission is the overall decisionmaker (sic) on policy matters and the Commission majority decision should always prevail.
Here is finding 2 on Allegation #3:
The OIG found Chairman Jaczko interprets his authority broadly and, at times, attempts to control the flow of information to the Commission. Specifically, the Chairman directed a senior official to change the staff’s recommendation in one SECY paper (SECY-11-0118) and to remove the EDO’s and Deputy EDO’s perspective on another (SECY-11-0093) prior to submission to the Commission. The Chairman also initially directed the staff to stop preparing a paper (SECY-11-0033) that the staff wanted to submit for Commission consideration. The Commissioners disagree with the Chairman’s influence over SECY paper content and uniformly expressed a need to receive the staff’s unaltered, expert recommendations to support their decisionmaking. Two prior NRC Chairman reported they did not change staff views expressed in SECY papers and if they had a different view than the staff, they expressed it in the voting record. Additionally, President Carter, who submitted the Reorganization Plan to Congress, said the Reorganization Plan does not allow the Chairman to interfere with NRC staff proposals and that the Chairman should present the staff’s recommendations as received and articulate his position separately, differing or not, to the Commission.
That is a negative finding, not an exoneration. It is not the only one in the report, just the most interesting one. Please remember, Jaczko resigned with no other apparent reason right before this IG report was released. It is spin on the level of gyroscopic behavior to attempt to portray his reign at the NRC as anything other than a politically directed attack on the very foundations of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission as formed under the Atomic Energy Act. That act and its subsequent ammendments was passed to ENABLE the safe use of clean, abundant nuclear energy, not to place a series of mushy barriers in its way.
There should be no enthusiasm for enacting any Jaczko led, cost increasing plans or implied policies like Fire Protection rules, the Aircraft Impact rule, the 50 mile evacuation planning zones, or the recommendations of the Jaczko-appointed Fukushima task force.
Some of the task force recommendations might be useful, but none of them should be assumed to be correct without independent verification. Considering the tiny size of the assigned task force and its Jaczko-enforced isolation from the rest of the technical experts at the NRC, it should be easy to find qualified verifiers.