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Energy Department Announces Creation of New Health, Safety and Security Office

August 30, 2006 - 8:53am

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WASHINGTON, DC - The Department of Energy (DOE) today announced the creation of a new office to strengthen and improve the health, safety, and security of the DOE workers, facilities and the public.  The new office, called the Office of Health, Safety and Security (HSS), will help formulate and implement health, safety and security policy for the Department, provide assistance to DOE sites, conduct oversight through rigorous field inspections, and carry out enforcement activities previously carried out by the Offices of Environment, Safety and Health (EH) and Security and Safety Performance Assurance (SSA).  This move builds on a number of actions the Department has taken over the past 18 months to increase safety of DOE workers.

"As Secretary of Energy, ensuring the safety of workers across the DOE complex is my top priority and this new office will go a long way in strengthening our safety and security organization," Secretary Samuel W. Bodman said.  "We must be world class not only in how we carry out our mission, but in the safe, secure, and environmentally responsible way in which we manage operations at our facilities across the country."

Through an integrated policy and oversight approach in the new HSS office, policy and field assistance personnel will work more closely with site managers to identify potential weaknesses and develop corrective actions to prevent workplace accidents before they happen.  In the previous DOE organization model, EH developed safety policy guidance and provided support to DOE sites, while SSA conducted safety oversight.  This bifurcation of responsibility led to gaps between theory and practice and some overlap in functions between the two offices.  Clearer guidance, early identification of risks, and management accountability will help reduce accident and injury rates and improve the Department's safety performance in operations.

The new HSS office will be led by a Chief Health, Safety and Security Officer, who, as a career professional, will provide continuity of leadership to a strong health, safety and security organization while maintaining institutional stability through changes in political leadership.  The Chief Health, Safety and Security Officer will report directly to the Office of the Secretary.

The new HSS office will have nine offices dedicated to health, safety and security, which include the Office of Health and Safety; Office of Nuclear Safety and Environment; Office of Corporate Safety Analysis; Office of Enforcement; Office of Independent Oversight; Office of Security Policy; Office of Security Technology and Assistance; Office of Classification; and National Training Center.  The Office of the Departmental Representative to the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board (DNFSB) will be a part of HSS and report to the Chief Health, Safety and Security Officer, as will the Office of Security Operations, which manages headquarters security personnel.

Functions that were performed by EH or SSA but are outside the core mission of health, safety and security will be transferred to other DOE program offices performing similar or related functions.  The Department's continuity of government program and support for technical review of authorization basis documents previously performed by SSA will be transferred into the existing functions in the Department's National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA).  Support on safety regulations for newly constructed facilities and new start projects will be performed by the Office of the Under Secretary of Energy (US-E) and NNSA.  Additionally, management of the Radiological Environment Science Laboratory will transfer to the Office of Nuclear Energy (NE) and management of the New Brunswick Laboratory will transfer to the Office of Science (SC) to better align with their current programmatic functions.  The Office of Management will assume non-safety related quality assurance program elements and the management of the Department's foreign travel and exchange visitor program.  The Office of National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Policy and Compliance will be transferred to the Office of the General Counsel (GC).

Glenn Podonsky will lead the new office as the Chief Health, Safety, and Security Officer.  He has served the Department as the Director of the Office of Security and Safety Performance Assurance (SSA) since 2004.

All funding requested for Fiscal Year 2007 will be spent on the functions for which it was authorized.  For more information on the Department's new office of Health, Safety and Security, please visit http://www.hss.energy.gov.

Media contact(s):

Megan Barnett, (202) 586-4940

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