U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Chairman Gregory B. Jaczko announced his resignation today after a drawn out controversy over his managerial style.
The Washington Times reported earlier on the persistent allegations of Mr. Jaczko’s bullying by fellow commissioners and NRC staff.
“Testimony of his peers revealed that Mr. Jaczko is prone to ‘continued outbursts of abusive rage,’ ‘ranting at the staff,’ ‘raging verbal assault’ and inspiring panic attacks in subordinates, particularly women. This was on top of an inspector general’s report that mentioned staff complaints about Mr. Jaczko creating ‘an intimidating work environment.’ In the face of such evidence, Mr. Jaczko’s defense that he’s just ‘passionate about safety’ is pretty weak tea.”
The reason for his resignation is unclear. He is stepping down before the release of a second inspector general report rumored to be into allegations of Mr. Jaczko’s misconduct. NRC spokesman Eliot Brenner told The Washington Times that the report had no impact on the timing of Mr. Jaczko’s resignation announcement. Mr. Jaczko’s statement was vague, saying that it “is the appropriate time to continue my efforts to ensure public safety in a different forum. This is the right time to pass along the public safety torch to a new chairman…” While his statement did not specifically touch on the embarrassing revelations of his tyrannical approach to the job or its impact on NRC staff, he did sound a defiant note by claiming the NRC was “one of the best places to work in the federal government throughout my tenure.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, did not agree with Mr. Jaczko’s assessment. “Dr. Jaczko’s troubling behavior as chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission had clearly resulted in a hostile work environment for women that ran counter to acceptable norms of workplace equality and that threatened to undermine the mission of the NRC itself. The only thing surprising about his resignation is the fact that the Obama administration has remained silent for more than a year after allegations of Jaczko’s offensive behavior surfaced.”
Mr. Jaczko’s resignation means the NRC needs a new commissioner as well as chairman. The White House could ostensibly nominate a new chairman from among the four existing commissioners but it seems unlikely in light of assistant press secretary Clark Stevens’ statement today that they intend to nominate “a new chairman soon.”
His resignation will become effective on the confirmation of his successor which could occur any time before his term expires in June 2013.