Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Resigns: Who Is Gregory Jaczko?
Wednesday, May 23, 2012
To the relief of some agency staff, the chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has decided to resign before another investigative report comes out echoing previous complaints about his management style.
Among other problems, Chairman Gregory Jaczko had been accused of bullying female employees at the NRC.
The accusations were first aired in a report from the agency’s inspector general last year. Another IG report being prepared is expected to repeat some of the same charges of mismanagement and verbal abuse of subordinates.
Jaczko was also criticized by the other four NRC commissioners, two Democrats and two Republicans, in a letter to the White House last October in which they claimed that Jaczko’s “behavior and management practices have become increasingly problematic and erratic.”
Jaczko was accused of “storming out of an agenda planning meeting while a colleague was speaking,” yelling at his fellow commissioners on the phone and attempting to intimidate an independent panel of technical advisers.
Born October 29, 1979, in Norristown, Pennsylvania, and raised in Albany, New York, Jaczko earned a bachelor’s degree in physics and philosophy from Cornell University in 1993, and a doctorate in theoretical particle physics from the University of Wisconsin at Madison in 1999. Always interested in politics as well as science, while still at graduate school Jaczko applied for an American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Science and Technology Policy Fellowship, which paid him to work with Rep. Edward Markey (D-Massachusetts) as a Congressional Science Fellow. At the same time, he worked as an adjunct professor at Georgetown University teaching science and policy.
After completing his doctorate, Jaczko obtained his first professional position, advising the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works on issues regarding nuclear energy. He moved from the Committee to working for Senator Harry Reid (D-Nevada), first as appropriations director and later as the Senator’s science policy advisor. During that time, Reid was leading the fight against a proposal to store spent nuclear waste at a facility to be built at Yucca Mountain, Nevada. While working for Reid, Jaczko served as the Senator’s point man on that issue. Not surprisingly, many Nevadans, as well as critics of nuclear power everywhere, opposed the plan.
On January 21, 2005, as part of a larger political deal between Democrats in the Senate, who objected to numerous administration appointments, and the administration of President George W. Bush, Jaczko was sworn in as a commissioner of the NRC. The fact that Reid had ascended to the post of Senate Minority Leader (he became Senate Majority Leader in 2007 owing to Democratic victories in the 2006 elections) was clearly a crucial factor in Jaczko’s appointment.
He was nominated and confirmed for a full five-year term in 2008, pursuant to a similar understanding between Senator Reid and President Bush. After Barack Obama took over the presidency, he chose Jaczko to head the NRC on May 13, 2009.
-Matt Bewig, Noel Brinkerhoff
To Learn More:
Gregory Jaczko Resigns As Chairman Of Nuclear Commission (by Brian Wingfield and Katarzyna Klimasinska, Bloomberg)
Chairman of N.R.C. to Resign Under Fire (by John M. Broder and Matthew L. Wald, New York Times)
Nuclear Regulatory Chief under Bipartisan Attack from Fellow Commissioners (by Noel Brinkerhoff and David Wallechinsky, AllGov)
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