As EM looks ahead to advance its cleanup mission, leaders from various program offices shared their perspectives on past achievements, current progress and future challenges during a panel session at the National Cleanup Workshop.
Colin Jones, deputy general manager of North American Nuclear, Jacobs, moderated the panel session. Panelists included Candice Robertson, EM principal deputy assistant secretary; Randy Hendrickson, senior advisor, EM Office of Field Operations; Dae Chung, EM associate principal deputy assistant secretary for corporate services; and Betsy Forinash, deputy assistant secretary, EM Office of Waste and Materials Management.
The panelists were asked to assess the state of EM. The consensus was that the overall state of EM is strong. The cleanup program has made much progress, with many accomplishments at each EM site, but more work and challenges remain in the cleanup mission.
“It begins with the strong and steady leadership of Ike White,” who becomes the longest serving head of EM at the end of this month, Robertson said.
The workforce continues to be a top leadership priority, according to the panelists, who discussed the challenges of retaining talent and recruiting new employees in EM.
EM’s Minority Serving Institutions Partnership Program (MSIPP) addresses the need for building and maintaining a well-trained, technically skilled and diverse workforce.
“MSIPP is extremely important for us, something to focus in on, and we need to put the effort behind it,” Hendrickson said.
Jones asked the panelists how EM will maintain the current mission while looking ahead to the future.
Forinash noted how EM takes a strategic view on interactions with regulators, stakeholders and tribes.
“We need to work with regulators so our success is their success,” Forinash said. She also stressed the importance of community relations and gaining a “real sense of partnership” in working with EM contractors in their investment in the communities.
Speaking from a corporate services viewpoint, Chung said, “We have to stay mindful of how we balance our resources and don’t lose sight of our priorities in key elements of our mission that are driving our lifecycle costs.”
Robertson closed out the session, noting one of the benefits of the recently unveiled EM Program Plan: “We are going to be able to add to it over the years by identifying more things for the program, while being transparent and having those conversations as we’re setting priorities.”
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