PST Executive Director steps down

The Board of Directors for the Partnership for Science and Technology has accepted the resignation of its Executive Director, Leslie Jones.  Her resignation is effective December 31, 2015.  Jones has served as the Executive Director since July 2014. 

Richard Holman, President of the Partnership for Science and Technology, commented that “We appreciate Leslie’s service to PST and wish her all the best in her future endeavors.  The Board will use this upcoming transition as an opportunity to continue to improve and strengthen our role as the leading science and technology advocate in the region.” 

The Partnership for Science and Technology is an Idaho Falls-based organization devoted to enhancing public awareness and understanding of the science and technology of our country’s energy research and development initiatives, and the economic benefits of energy technologies.

Posted on December 4, 2015 .

Changing Course: The Case for Sensible Acquisition Reform at DOE

          The Energy Communities Alliance (ECA) today released Changing Course: The Case for Sensible Acquisition Reform at DOE

       The successful and safe operation of Department of Energy (DOE) sites is of paramount importance to the adjacent communities. Virtually all of the major prime contracts in DOE’s Office of Environmental Management (DOE-EM) and NNSA’s portfolios are set to expire between 2016 and 2019 (if not extended), setting up an unprecedented period of contract re-competition over the next four years. DOE and the communities that host DOE sites, are best served when there is strong competition among highly qualified companies seeking to implement the most innovative and efficient strategies for success on this work.

       In order to best position DOE for the next round of contract competitions, a number of important changes are needed in DOE’s approach to acquisition planning, DOE should:
1.    Use contract structures that are based on the highly incentivized contract model that was successful at River Corridor, Rocky Flats, Mound, and Fernald rather than cost caps, fixed price, LPTA or other high risk/low reward contract structures that are overly complex and have no track record of success 
a.    Appropriately balance risk and place a high priority on mission completion versus punitive penalties
b.    DOE behaviors need to match/support the contract structure
c.    Contractors need sufficient flexibility and discretionary authority to deal with issues in a timely and efficient manner
d.    Although many of the people have retired that worked on the past successful contract structures, DOE needs to ensure that it learns from the past successes and builds capacity to deal with potential high volume of contracts in the procurement system.
2.    Actively engage with appropriate host community representatives during the planning phase of each acquisition. 
a.    Contracts should include community engagement requirements.
b.    An emphasis should be placed on longer-term contracts (i.e. five years versus three years with two one-year options).
c.    Include community cleanup priorities clearly in the contact scope.
3.    Include the subcontracting and small business plans in the evaluation criteria and emphasize use of local and small businesses in the scoring. 
a.    Staff augmentation should not be a dominant practice.
b.    Subcontracting plan should address the type of work to be subcontracted out, not just the quantity.
c.    Build in contract mechanisms that discourage prime contractors from self-performing previously subcontracted work during the term of the contract.
d.    Allow accounting of small business utilization by non-M&O prime contractors to further encourage the utilization of local businesses
4.    Contracts should incentivize development, deployment and eventual transfer of new technologies.
5.         Acquisition planning should originate at the site level and site participation should continue through Source Evaluation Board membership, with DOE headquarters support.
DOE’s effort to shift more risk to contractors through fixed-price and cost-capped contracts, fee claw-back and other measures has resulted in significantly decreased competition for recent DOE contracts and, more importantly, has been a severe impediment to the completion of work on several existing contracts. At the same time, community and site-level input into contracting strategy is diminishing and subcontractors whose vitality is critical to local economies are seeing a similar decrease in their roles and opportunities. Although many companies have supportive corporate programs for community engagement, in today’s Low Price Technically Acceptable (LPTA) contracting environment these behaviors are not recognized nor encouraged.
These trends are not in the best interests of the DOE or its host communities. ECA has proposed a process to address these concerns and move DOE towards contracts that will accomplish DOE’s goals.

     ECA is the non-profit organization of local governments which host, or are adjacent to DOE sites.
      ECA Vice-Chair, Mayor Steve Young of Kennewick, WA who led ECA’s committee said that “we want to work with DOE to ensure that the contracts work for DOE, the community and the Nation.” 

      ECA Chair Chuck Smith, Councilmember, Aiken County, SC said the “ultimate success of—these new contracts is vital to the overall nuclear security and nuclear waste cleanup mission in the United States, the health and viability of the communities that host these sites, the strength of the future workforce and the sustainability of businesses—both small and large—that take on these unique tasks.” 

      A full copy of Changing Course: The Case for Sensible Acquisition Reform at DOE can be found on our website   For further information contact Kara Colton, Director at ECA at 703-864-3520 or 
Changing Course: The Case for Sensible Acquisition Reform at DOE is the work of a committee that is written from the experience of local governments that host defense nuclear facilities, which have been and will be most impacted by any policies regarding nuclear waste cleanup and management. ECA’s leadership consists of mayors, councilmembers, commissioners, chairpersons, judges, city and county managers, Community Reuse Organization executives and board members, economic development professionals, and others. We developed of this paper and provided input into the realities of dealing with DOE’s contracting since the early 1990s, including the benefits and challenges.

Posted on June 10, 2015 .

John Kotek moves to DOE


Kotek Appointed to Senior Energy Department Post
Baker to Lead Idaho Office; Lyon Elevated to Partner

BOISE - John Kotek, Managing Partner in the Idaho office of Gallatin Public Affairs, has been appointed by President Barack Obama to serve as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary in the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Nuclear Energy. He joined Gallatin in 2007.

In his new role, John will be responsible for implementing the Department of Energy's strategy for managing spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive wastes. He will also be responsible for the nation's nuclear energy research and development programs and infrastructure, including the Idaho National Laboratory.

"Gallatin has been well-served by John's leadership and now the nation will be well-served by his knowledge and leadership," said Gallatin President Dan Lavey. "We will miss John but he leaves us stronger and in good hands."

John has more than 25 years of experience in the nuclear energy R&D and nuclear waste fields. He began his career at the U.S. Department of Energy in 1989, and moved to Idaho in 1999 to manage R&D program development at Argonne National Laboratory-West, which today is part of the INL. John was named Deputy Manager of DOE's Idaho Operations Office in 2003 and was responsible for federal management of the INL. John joined Gallatin in 2007, and for two years during his tenure with the firm (from 2010 to 2012) served as Staff Director to the Blue Ribbon Commission on America's Nuclear Future, a Presidentially-established commission which recommended a new strategy for America's nuclear waste management program.

"I'm proud to have been a part of the Gallatin team for nearly eight years and will miss the camaraderie with my colleagues and the opportunity to serve our clients" John said. "As I embark on this new challenge, I leave with the utmost confidence in the future of the office and the firm."

Gallatin Partner Emily Baker has been named Managing Partner of Gallatin's Idaho office. Emily is an Idaho native who began her career in the office of Governor Phil Batt. She joined the firm as a Principal in 2013, having served as a Presidential appointee in the General Services Administration and the U.S. Department of Commerce within the George W. Bush Administration. Following her departure from federal service, Emily founded and managed Baker Pinkerton, a DC-based strategic advocacy, government affairs, and communications firm.

"Emily Baker is a strong leader and an experienced consultant with deep Idaho roots. Gallatin is fortunate to have a team of veteran and new professionals leading our Idaho office into the future," said Lavey.

In addition, Mckinsey Miller Lyon has been named a Partner in the Boise office. Mckinsey was born and raised in Idaho and joined Gallatin as an Associate in 2006. She is the first person in the history of the firm to rise from Associate to Partner. In 2014, the Professional Women in Advocacy named her one of the top three up and coming women advocates. Mckinsey will continue advising clients with public affairs, communications and government relations strategies.

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Posted on January 14, 2015 .



Lawmakers on a quest for a storage solution -- but agendas still collide

Hannah Northey and Nick Juliano, E&E reporters

Published: Friday, January 9, 2015

Lawmakers in both chambers of Congress share the goal of fixing a decadeslong impasse over what to do with the country's nuclear waste and the thorny issue of Yucca Mountain.

But they differ over the approach.

Whereas a handful of key senators are discussing legislative language to restart the nation's search for short- and long-term waste solutions, House Republicans remain transfixed on securing funding for the now abandoned repository under Yucca Mountain, about 100 miles northwest of Las Vegas.

Finding a middle ground could prove tricky.

"They have a problem that's just the opposite of what we have," said Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho), a "cardinal" on the House Appropriations Committee. The Senate "could get funding in for [a proposed] pilot program for interim storage, but not Yucca Mountain. We could get funding in for Yucca Mountain, but not interim storage. It's the same problem, just in reverse."

On the House side, Republicans eyeing the diminished stature of Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Yucca's biggest opponent, are waiting for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to release a final safety report on the Nevada site as a "springboard" for possible legislation (E&ENews PM, Dec. 18, 2014). Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy, reiterated during a recent interview that Yucca Mountain is the nation's legal repository under federal law, and any legislation must include the Nevada site.

"Any changing of the Nuclear Waste Policy Act cannot come at the expense of changing the current law on Yucca Mountain," Shimkus said. "Really, $15 billion and 30 years shouldn't go to waste."

But the push for Yucca has failed to mesh with the upper chamber, where other members, including Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.), have vowed opposition. Some Senate Democrats have called for NRC's review to be completed quickly, while others have signaled more regional interest. Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), the ranking member on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, who voted against Yucca Mountain in the past, said she's going to focus on cleaning up the legacy defense nuclear waste at the Hanford site in her home state.

"I'm very interested in moving military waste separately, because we keep getting caught up in this very elongated debate that takes forever and ever to solve, and we are at a precipice in the next few years of being able to get waste moving out of the Northwest, so we want to see solutions that will do that," Cantwell said.

Cantwell noted that NRC's study of Yucca Mountain is "obviously taking a long time," and dealing with military waste could be a "smaller, narrower" question. "For me, I'm going to focus on this issue of our waste and getting rid of it first; that would be the primary thing," the senator said.

Despite the divide, a handful of senators are considering legislative language, and thinking up solutions for allowing temporary and permanent storage sites to move forward without creating conflict with the House over Yucca Mountain.

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), the new chairman of the Senate Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee, said he's hopeful that the two chambers will have a meeting of the minds despite their differing views. Alexander said he agrees with the House GOP that the United States cannot go without nuclear power, that a repository for waste is critical, and that a second storage site will be needed even if Yucca Mountain is permitted to hold waste.

The Senate, he said, should make the first move.

"The best thing we can do in the Senate is pass a bill, give it to the House and then let them do what they think is the right thing to do," Alexander said. "Then put them together -- and that's what a conference is for -- and send it to the president. We haven't been doing that the last three or four years."

Paul Dickman, a former senior official at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, said Congress could produce an authorization bill that finds solutions for storing waste without precluding or preventing action on Yucca Mountain, but opportunities to secure funding for a waste solution are waning.

"How successful it will be, nobody knows," Dickman said. "If the administration doesn't do anything, it goes to the courts."

'Earlier than later'

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), the new chairwoman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said yesterday that she's waiting to sit down with Cantwell to schedule a hearing on nuclear waste -- an issue that she believes is much broader than just Yucca Mountain.

"We have not defined 'soon' because Senator Cantwell and I haven't sat down with a calendar in front of us," Murkowski said, adding that a hearing on liquefied natural gas exports may come first.

A likely basis for a Senate bill is language that Murkowski, Alexander, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) introduced in 2013. The bill, S. 1240, would have required that the creation of both temporary waste storage sites and permanent repositories be undertaken at the same time and would have outlined a process by which funds would be collected to pay for the new program.

The legislation was touted as a way to prevent taxpayers from paying hundreds of millions of dollars annually in lawsuits the Energy Department faces for not living up to its legal obligation under the Nuclear Waste Policy Act to dispose of the material.

Whether the language would be attached to an appropriations package in the coming months or take the form of a stand-alone bill is unclear, as is whether it would include funding for Yucca Mountain, a Republican Senate aide said.

Feinstein said she's hopeful that Murkowski will hold a hearing on nuclear waste soon, noting that the senators spent a lot of time working on S. 1240 with two secretaries of Energy, Obama's Blue Ribbon Commission on Nuclear Waste and other stakeholders.

"I think [what] evolved [was] a protocol that we thought would both have control and be affirmative in the sense of getting this job done," Feinstein said. "I hope Senator Murkowski will have a hearing on the bill before too long. I know she wants to move the bill."

While acknowledging that Yucca Mountain could be a sticking point, Feinstein pointed out what many sources confirmed -- that a growing number of nuclear plant closures is increasing pressure for Congress to find a waste solution. California, she said, has nowhere to put hot, radioactive spent fuel from the now-shuttered San Onofre twin reactors, and PG&E's Diablo Canyon nuclear plant is accumulating waste with no final destination in sight.

And in the meantime, the government continues to be sued for billions of dollars each year for failing to uphold its obligation to take the waste, Feinstein added.

"We have a sanction of $20 billion a year because we don't have a repository for waste," she said. "Even if you have Yucca, it would be filled today."

Posted on January 13, 2015 .