Acceptance of the Rensselaer Presidency;
Continuation of the NRC Mission
Chairman's Address to the NRC Staff
Monday, December 14, 1998, 11:00 a.m.
Good morning, everyone. Given the announcements and press releases that were issued last Friday, by now most of you likely are aware that I have accepted an offer to become the 18th President of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, effective July 1, 1999, upon the completion of my tenure here as NRC Chairman. I requested this opportunity to meet with the NRC staff so that I could discuss with you various dimensions of that decision, and to answer any questions that you might have.
For those of you who do not know Rensselaer well, it is a highly respected university-I believe its graduate engineering program currently is ranked 18th in the nation, and it was, in fact, the first institution in the U.S. to grant baccalaureate degrees in engineering. Rensselaer is located in Troy, New York, near Albany, and it has a student body (combined graduate and undergraduate) of approximately 6,350. As a university, Rensselaer is particularly renowned for its innovative approaches to undergraduate education, its reputation as a research institution, its record of providing entrepreneurial opportunities, and the remarkable caliber of its faculty, students, and alumni. I would be remiss if I did not mention that here at the NRC we are fortunate to have a number of those distinguished Rensselaer graduates.
You also should know that, even after the Rensselaer Board of Trustees had voted unanimously to offer me the presidency, this was not an easy decision for me. I believe very strongly in the value of public service, and I believe in it even more now that I have had a chance to work with all of you, over the past three-and-a-half years, as your Chairman. So I weighed a great many factors before making this decision-including the contribution that I might be able to make to Rensselaer, the possible impacts of either decision on my family, and the status of changes that are currently ongoing within the NRC.
As I indicated earlier, I will be staying on at the NRC through the completion of my present term, which ends on June 30 of next year. I would like to reassure all of you that, as long as I am here, the issues relevant to my position as the NRC Chairman will continue to receive my undiminished focus and attention. I hardly need to tell you that, particularly in areas related to reactor oversight, we are undergoing rapid change across a broad range of programs. For that reason alone, I would not have considered leaving before the end of my current term. In fact, the knowledge that I will be moving on at the end of that period will provide me with added motivation to ensure that these changes are implemented in a responsible and timely fashion. I would include here our efforts to risk-inform our regulatory processes; our revisions to and integration of the NRC reactor assessment, inspection, and enforcement programs; our efforts to streamline the reactor license renewal process; our completion of the 10CFR50.59 rule change; our revisions to the medical use regulations; the overhaul of our approach to Planning, Budgeting, and Performance Management (PBPM); and our restructuring of applicable line organizations.
I would like all of you to know that I believe we have made substantial progress, over the past several years, in taking an excellent, highly competent technical organization and making it even better. I particularly am pleased with the progress we have made in the areas just mentioned, as well as in our success at keeping pace with changes in information management and information technology; our achievements in international regulatory cooperation and global nuclear safety issues; and our anticipation of and preparation for changes related to electric utility deregulation and the potential external regulation of Department of Energy nuclear facilities. Most importantly, I believe we have been successful in "holding the center"-that is, maintaining a consistent, unambiguous emphasis on our fundamental health and safety mission during a period of intense scrutiny and change. Each of you should take personal pride in these accomplishments-and I thank each of you for your personal contribution to the NRC mission.
But, as I have indicated, all is not done. We will continue the re-alignment of our regulatory approach to be responsive to legitimate concerns of our stakeholders. We will continue to explore creative approaches that would accomplish our goals more effectively and efficiently. We will continue to anticipate and position ourselves for change. And as always, we will take every measure within our grasp to ensure that the NRC remains fully capable of performing its mission, preserving public confidence as a strong, competent, and effective regulator.