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3 Comments

  1. True enough … but the OIG report also states there is a lack of clarity in the legislative history of these provisions, and that Senate and House Committees have often taken a different view leading to conflicting results and outcomes (which have been reflected in the different conduct and options of past Chairs). The finding here is not that Jaczko violated any rules, but that the legislation may need some additional clarity and strengthening (and a consistent interpretation and application by House and Senate Oversight Committees).

    Quoting from the Executive Summary at Length (Finding #3), emphasis my own:

    http://thehill.com/images/stories/news/2012/06_june/26/nrc_igreport_06_26_12.pdf

    OIG found that the Reorganization Plan assigns the Chairman responsibility for ‘developing policy planing and guidance for consideration by the Commission,” but does not define these terms or articulate the limits of the Chairman’s authority in this area. Moreover, the legislative history provides conflicting interpretations as to whether the Chairman can direct the staff not to submit written policy proposals to the Commission or alter the information the staff provides in its written policy proposals. While a Senate committee noted the Chairman was to serve only as a conduit to pass information forward, a House committee noted the Chairman was responsible for guiding, developing, and represented policy proposals and options to the Commission. This lack of clarity results in differing interpretations by different Chairmen as to the extent of their authority to influence and modify the staff’s policy proposals prior to submission to the Commission.”

    1. @EL

      You sound like some of the people I deal with in my day job. Only lawyers, sea lawyers and nukes think that you need to define standard words like “policy” – use a flipping dictionary!

      Besides – can you really tell me that we need better legislative history than going back to the guy whose staff wrote the darned law and who presented that law to Congress for passage?

      The Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is NOT an executive decision maker who has the right to control the flow of information to the rest of the Commission. There is NO DOUBT in the law on that matter, only in the minds of lawyers who can argue about anything.

      Besides, the OIG also asked two previous chairmen about their interpretations of the Reorganization Act.

      Former NRC Chairman Meserve

      Former Chairman Meserve told OIG that during his time as NRC Chairman, he never personally modified the content of a staff paper or directed the staff to modify the content of a staff paper before the paper was submitted to the Commission. He accepted the staff papers as they arrived. Former Chairman Meserve stated it was important to get the staff’s recommendations as guidance for the Commission’s consideration. The purpose of the SECY paper was to provide the staff’s judgement to the Commission, and then the Commission would decide whether it agreed or disagreed. Former Chairman Meserve related there were occasions when he disagreed with the staff’s recommendation in a SECY paper, which would be reflected in his voting record. Former Chairman Meserve could not recall ever telling the EDO or staff not to submit a SECY paper that he did not want presented to the Commission.

      Former NRC Chairman Dale Klein

      Former Chairman Klein told OIG that during his time as Chairman, he never directed or asked the staff to change the content or their recommendation in a SECY paper prior to submission to the Commission. He never instructed the staff not to submit a SECY paper, and he believed that the Commissioners should receive the staff’s information as is. When his view differed from the staff’s view, he would provide it in his comments. Former Chairman Klein stated his approach as Chairman was to be open and transparent with the Commission about all matters; however, Chairman Jaczko’s approach was different. He said that when he was a Commissioner, Chairman Jaczko talked about being open and transparent, but tended not to be that way in practice.

  2. Rod,
    the complete OIG report is not that easy to find on the internet.
    Perhaps you should share a link to it in your article.

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