Many Voices Working for the Community
Approved May 9, 2012 Meeting Minutes
The Oak Ridge Site Specific Advisory Board (ORSSAB) held its monthly meeting on Wednesday, May 9, 2012, at the DOE Information Center, 1 Science.gov Way, Oak Ridge, Tenn., beginning at 6 p.m. A video of the meeting was made and may be viewed by contacting the ORSSAB support offices at (865) 241-4583 or 241-4584. The presentation portion of the video is available on the board’s YouTube site at www.youtube.com/user/ORSSAB/videos.
Ed Juarez, Vice Chair
Maggie Owen, Chair
Charles Jensen, Secretary
DDFO, Liaisons, and Federal Coordinator Present
Dave Adler, DOE Liaison, Department of Energy - Oak Ridge Office (DOE-ORO)
Susan Cange, Acting Manager for DOE-ORO Environmental Management (EM) and Deputy Designated Federal Officer (DDFO)
Connie Jones, Environmental Protection Agency, Region 4 (EPA)
Melyssa Noe, ORSSAB Federal Coordinator, DOE-ORO
John Owsley, Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC)
Cate Alexander, DOE, EM SSAB Designated Federal Officer
Spencer Gross, ORSSAB Support Office
Norman Mulvenon, Citizen’s Oversight Panel
Pete Osborne, ORSSAB Support Office
Mark Whitney, DOE
Three members of the public were present.
Ms. Cange – Ms. Cange introduced Mark Whitney as the new DOE Oak Ridge Manager for EM. Ms. Cange will be deputy to Mr. Whitney. Mr. Whitney has extensive DOE experience in EM, the Office of Science, and with the National Nuclear Security Administration related to nuclear non-proliferation.
Mr. Whitney said he is looking forward to coming to Oak Ridge and working with ORSSAB. He plans to be on the job in late July or first of August. Mr. Martin invited Mr. Whitney to attend the board’s annual meeting in August.
Mr. Adler – There will another meeting of consulting and signatory parties regarding historic preservation activities at East Tennessee Technology Park (ETTP), specifically on the K-25 Building, on Thursday, May 17 at the 2714 Building, which is adjacent to the Federal Building in Oak Ridge. This meeting is in response to a recent report by the National Park Service recommending that a portion of the North Tower of K-25 be preserved for historical purposes.
There will be tour of the Oak Ridge Reservation for new ORSSAB members on Saturday, May 26 beginning at 9 a.m. Mr. Adler said other members of the board are welcome to attend as space permits on the tour van.
Mr. Adler said DOE ORO has one open recommendation from the board (Recommendation 209: Recommendations on Fiscal Year 2014 DOE Oak Ridge Environmental Management Budget Request). He said the standard practice for a recommendation on EM budget requests is to attach the recommendation to the DOE ORO EM budget submittal to DOE Headquarters. He said it would be submitted electronically to headquarters on May 10 followed by a hard copy version. The board will receive a letter from DOE thanking the board for the recommendation.
Mr. Adler read a letter of appreciation recognizing Mr. Murphree for his service as chair of ORSSAB from FY 2010-2012. The letter came from DOE EM Senior Advisor Dave Huizenga and was also read at the EM SSAB Chairs’ meeting in April in Paducah, Ky. Mr. Murphree was unable to attend that meeting.
Ms. Jones – Ms. Jones toured ETTP earlier in the day. She said the K-1070-B burial grounds remedial action is complete and removal of slab and soils at the former K-33 site is about one-quarter complete.
Mr. Owsley – no comments.
Mr. Mulvenon encouraged everyone in attendance to attend the historic preservation consulting party meeting on May 17.
He also said the evening’s presentation is important in understanding how ORSSAB fits into the overall EM SSAB and how the Federal Advisory Committee Act establishes the EM SSAB and other boards like ORSSAB.
Ms. Alexander’s presentation was on the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) and EM SSAB members. The main points of her presentation are in Attachment 1.
She began by explaining that the EM SSAB is one of about 900 other federal advisory committees. DOE has 11 advisory boards. One of them is the EM SSAB, which is made up eight site specific advisory boards around the nation, much like ORSSAB. Another is the EM Advisory Board, which is considered an ‘expert’ board that looks at corporate issues and reports directly to the Assistant Secretary for EM. Mr. Owsley is a member of the EM Advisory Board.
Ms. Alexander said FACA receives much attention by Congress and during almost every session some legislation related to FACA is introduced. The Executive Branch, through the General Services Administration (GSA), the Government Accounting Office, and the secretarial offices, monitors the activities of advisory boards. She said the integrity of advisory committee to operate within the law depends, in part, on the members of committees.
FACA became law in January 1973. It established the framework for advisory committees and the GSA to oversee advisory committees (Attachment 1, page 4, slide 1).
The drivers for FACA are to enhance public accountability (Attachment 1, page 4, slide 2) and to reduce wasteful expenditures by advisory committees (Attachment 1, page 5, slide 1). She said FACA is used whenever non-federal employees convene for the purpose of giving consensus advice to an agency.
FACA ensures public input on government decisions, prevents domination by special interests by requiring balance in membership, and provides open discussions of policy (Attachment 1, page 5, slide 2).
Federal advisory committee can be established four ways (Attachment 1, page 6, slide 1):
· Required by statute
· Presidential authority
· Authorized by statute
· Agency authority
The major requirements for FACA are noted on page 6, slide 2 of Attachment 1. Ms. Alexander said each agency determines its own guidance and management controls for its advisory committee. She said it allows the agency to set up a system that supports FACA rather than FACA imposing requirements on each agency.
Advisory committees are chartered every two years. When objectives have been achieved, work becomes obsolete, or costs become excessive advisory committees are terminated. Committee meetings must be open to the public and detailed minutes must be kept. Ms. Alexander said while these requirements are in place FACA doesn’t spell out how to execute them. That is left to each agency.
A FACA requirement is to have committees with balanced memberships. The law does not spell out how to balance committee membership, but Ms. Alexander said other authorities do address balance.
Ms. Alexander showed a graphic of the structure under which advisory committees operate (Attachment 1, page 7, slide 2). She said each circle in the diagram provides increasingly specific guidelines for advisory committees. She said successive guidelines must conform with the preceding set of guidelines, but successive guidelines can be more specific.
Regarding balanced membership a cross section of people living in an affected area must be considered for membership (Attachment 1, page 8, slide 2). Ms. Alexander said GSA assumes that balance on advisory committees can be improved constantly. Whenever the charter is renewed or a new board is established a membership balance plan has to be reported.
Mr. Juarez – Does guidance establish the number of members on a committee? Ms. Alexander – Each site has a different number of members within the EM SSAB. That’s what the site has indicated is appropriate. The DOE Manual does say the board should have the fewest number of members as is necessary to fulfill the mission.
After an advisory committee completes recruitment activities for members, nominations are sent to DOE EM Headquarters. Ms. Alexander said a number of people review the nominations (Attachment 1, page 10, slide 2). Once nominations clear review, appointment letters are sent from the office of the Assistant Secretary for EM. Ms. Alexander said during the process reviewers are looking for membership balance and conflicts of interest.
Ms. Alexander reviewed member responsibilities (Attachment 1, page 11, slide 1). One of the more important responsibilities is to declare any potential conflict of interest (Attachment 1, page 11, slide 2). Ms. Alexander said people with conflicts are not necessarily precluded from being on an advisory committee, but they must recuse themselves from discussions where conflicts of interest could arise.
Ms. Alexander reviewed some situations regarding the press, email exchanges, committee guidance, and personal offers from special interests (Attachment 1, page 12, slide 1). She said dealing with the media is a site specific issue, but generally if a member of the media calls an individual committee member that member should defer to the chair or to a designated spokesperson.
She said email exchanges are covered under the Freedom of Information Act.
Ms. Alexander reviewed the responsibilities DOE has to the EM SSAB (Attachment 1, page 12, slide 2), including adequate funding to operate, ensuring balance of membership, and providing for openness and inclusiveness. DOE must provide any information or support requested for the advisory committee to operate, but it must not be involved in the recommendation-making process of the committee.
Ms. Alexander said the EM SSAB is chartered as a ‘representative’ board. In a representative board, she said members are associated with identifiable groups (Attachment 1, page 13, slide 1). She said a representative board should not have members with extensive experience in EM or closely related fields. While they can have experience in the EM area, they should also represent some other part of the affected community. She said when boards have members with technical backgrounds, the dynamics of the board changes – discussions are not accessible to people without technical expertise.
Ms. Alexander that DOE EM Headquarters highly values the eight site specific boards of the EM SSAB. She said her office compiles recommendations from the boards that are considered especially valuable and shares those with senior EM management.
After Ms. Alexander’s presentation several more questions were asked. Following are abridged questions and answers.
Mr. Martin – At the chairs’ meeting in Paducah you did a timeline about how long it takes for someone to be appointed once an application has been submitted to headquarters. I think the board would be interested in that. Ms. Alexander – We were looking at the length of time it takes from the recruitment process to getting the letter of appointment. The average is about 40 days once the official submission gets to headquarters. Considering the number of offices applications go through that’s pretty good. There is a draft phase where there is back and forth exchange between headquarters and the sites to get the applications into shape so that they go through smoothly. We want to resolve any issues before it gets in the official process where it could get hung up and slow it down. Mr. Martin – When you get an application from a site do you just get raw information or do you get an explanation why an applicant should be appointed? Also, if there are three openings, do you get three names or more to choose from? Ms. Alexander – We get both applications and the site’s determination of how they bring representation to the board. We use the application to check to see if the support for the designation is evident. The sites make the nominations so they send up the proper number of applications.
Mr. Paulus – Do you see information on potential board members other than what is in the package, like a background check? Ms. Alexander – We do not, but there have been times when someone in the review chain has known someone who has come through and has looked further into them. One came in that had a criminal background and that was flagged.
Mr. Stow – How does ORSSAB’s activity compare to other boards, not only among the EM SSAB but other advisory boards you’re aware of within DOE? Ms. Alexander – You are the largest board at DOE and the only citizens’ advisory board (a representative as opposed to an expert board). Compared to other DOE boards, the EM SSAB is very active in terms of the number of recommendations provided. I’ll send Ms. Noe a link to a website where you can look up the number of federal advisory boards across government, the number of meetings held, the number of members, the number of recommendations and how many were accepted. Mr. Stow – Honing in more on this board, what observation do you have on the activity of ORSSAB versus the other site specific boards? Ms. Alexander – With some frequency we are asked which board we would recommend to look at in terms of recommendations and activities and we say Oak Ridge. We see ORSSAB as a highly functional, thoughtful, considerate board that provides solid advice in areas that management thinks is valuable. Part of the evaluation that we do, and would like to do more of, is looking at three main groups for evaluation:
· members, do they feel valued, does the process work for them?
· members of the community, does the community know about the board and its work, can opinions be expressed?
· DOE management, is what the board is working on of value to the federal government?
Those three groups are important in evaluating the function of the board. So from our perspective ORSSAB is a high functioning board.
Ms. C. Jones – Regarding the Federal Facility Environmental Restoration and Dialogue Committee, which sets up how decisions are made regarding cleanup, and understanding you can’t make people apply, but how much do you stress that with the boards when they are seeking to fill vacancies in terms of trying to make sure the makeup is representative of the community, specifically regarding the Dialogue Committee recommendation? Ms. Alexander – I don’t know how to answer that. The dialogue has continued with EPA. EPA recently invited the Department of Defense and Department of Interior into that discussion. Members of the EM SSAB have continued to be a part of that. Do we ask them if they want to participate in that when we do our membership drive, is that what you’re asking? Ms. C. Jones – I’m asking how much emphasis do you place on the recommendations that the Dialogue Committee made in terms of seeking members that are representative of the community. How much would you make boards aware of the need for balance and being representative of the community? Ms. Alexander – My understanding is that DOE did incorporate the advice from the earlier dialogue into its appointment processes. I’ll go back and look at that and see what language we have. But we work toward a broad representation of the affected community, including, importantly, under-represented groups.
Ms. Gawarecki – I’m wondering how the members of the SSAB are chosen locally. I haven’t heard if there is an external review committee or if it’s all done internally. Mr. Adler – There was an external committee that was used for a long time. In the last couple of rounds it’s been shifted to an internal process. We look through the applications and using the criteria Ms. Alexander discussed we try to pick candidates that seem to fit our needs. Then we send those to our DDFO and she suggests the ones to send to Washington. Ms. Gawarecki – I think DOE has a culture and it might be better if there was a broader group reviewing applications. Second question, EPA is in the process of developing an environmental justice plan. To my knowledge, this is going to require that any federal action that involves the environment have measurable environmental justice goals. Are you tracking this and how will the SSABs be able to work within this framework? Ms. Alexander – DOE has its own environmental justice policy and strategy. It does not track percentages and things like that. It all depends on the board and who the affected people are. DOE is very committed to environmental justice concepts. It is something that we are looking at more closely within the EM SSAB construct. Ms. Gawarecki – My third questions regards non-FACA chartered boards. Y-12 has a somewhat hard to penetrate board of community members that they have invited to meet with on a regular basis. Does that fall under the auspices of FACA and if it doesn’t how it could be more open to the community? Ms. Alexander – I don’t know anything about that board. I will say the General Accounting Office was looking at the non-chartered boards as well as the chartered boards. The issue for non-chartered boards is that great care must be taken in how their meetings are conducted. Remember FACA is only triggered when you’re looking for consensus advice.
Mr. Murphree – Regarding terms, ORSSAB is restricted to three terms of two years each. Not all boards have that requirement. Ms. Alexander – Actually only one board has not been functioning that way, but we are addressing this.
Mr. Martin – What can we as a board do to help the membership process? Ms. Alexander – Talk to people, especially people who might bring a different perspective from a part of the community that is not represented on the board. Mr. Martin – I was thinking more of looking at applications and making suggestions to Ms. Noe as to whom we think would make good members. I know some of the boards interview applicants. Ms. Alexander – I must say that it is not always with great effect. What we’ve found too many times is that people look for people with expertise. That is not what our boards are about.
Mr. Juarez – Do other boards use an external review committee for applicants? Ms. Alexander – I think one board has used that and it ended up that we have not been able to accept their recommendations because they look at qualifications they you would if you were applying for a job – education, for instance. The EM SSAB does not have educational requirements.
Board Finance & Process – The committee did not meet in April.
EM – The committee received an update on activities at the Transuranic Waste Processing Center at its April meeting.
The committee also reworked the Recommendation on Abatement of Mercury Contamination at the Y-12 National Security Complex and Within the City of Oak Ridge, which the board considered at this meeting.
Committee leadership continues to look for an independent researcher to study groundwater movement on the Oak Ridge Reservation.
The committee will meet again on May 16 and hear a presentation on the remedial investigation/proposed plan for Zone 1 at ETTP.
Public Outreach – The committee met by teleconference on April 24. Mr. McKinney reported the committee reviewed its FY 2012 work plan without any changes. For the six-month planning calendar the committee discussed articles for the next Advocate newsletter.
The committee reviewed five promotional television spots that will run during the video replays of the board meetings on several local cable television channels.
The committee discussed the possibility of being part of the Oak Ridge Reservation tours that the American Museum of Science and Energy conducts in the summer. Details of that participation are being worked out.
Mr. McKinney said several board members staffed the ORSSAB booth at the Earth Day celebration at Bissell Park in Oak Ridge on April 28.
The committee will meet again via teleconference on May 22.
Stewardship – Mr. Stow said at the April meeting the Stewardship Committee received an update on the development of the geographical information system that DOE ORO is developing that will be useful in tracking stewardship information on the Oak Ridge Reservation.
At the May 15 meeting the committee will hear a presentation on the 2012 Remediation Effectiveness Report and will elect new officers for the remainder of the fiscal year as both he and vice chair Ron Murphree’s terms expire in June.
Executive – Mr. Juarez said the committee reviewed and approved the agenda for this meeting, all other business being routine.
Announcements and Other Board Business
ORSSAB will have its next monthly meeting on Wednesday, June 13, at 6 p.m. at the DOE Information Center. The presentation will be an update on the status of cleanup at Y-12 National Security complex.
The minutes of the April 11, 2012, meeting were approved.
The Recommendation on the Abatement of Mercury Contamination at the Y-12 National Security Complex and Within the City of Oak Ridge was not approved (Attachment 2).
The EM SSAB Chairs Recommendation on Continued Funding of the EM SSAB was approved (Attachment 3).
The board authorized the chair to send a letter to DOE Oak Ridge EM reaffirming ORSSAB’s position on the North Tower at K-25 (Attachment 4).
Mr. Yahr was introduced as one of the new student representative from Hardin Valley Academy. Matt McDaniel from Oak Ridge High School was unable to attend.
Federal Coordinator Report
Additions to the Agenda
ORSSAB’s position on the North Tower at K-25.
Mr. Paulus moved to approve the minutes of the April 11, 2012, meeting. Mr. McKinney seconded and the motion passed unanimously.
Mr. Martin moved to approve the Recommendation on Abatement of Mercury Contamination at the Y-12 National Security Complex and Within the City of Oak Ridge. Ms. Mei seconded. The motion failed, 10 voting nay (Bell, Hart, Hagy, Holmes, Juarez, McKinney, Owen, Paulus, Stow, and Valunas) and five voting yea (Martin, Mei, Murphree, Staley, Stansfield).
Mr. Juarez moved to approve the EM SSAB Chairs’ Recommendation on Continued Funding of the EM SSAB. Mr. Stow seconded and the motion passed unanimously.
Ms. Owen was not present for the following motion.
Mr. Bell moved to authorize the board chair to send a letter to DOE-Oak Ridge EM reaffirming the board’s position on demolishing the North Tower at K-25. Mr. Stow seconded and the motion passed, 11 voting yea (Bell, Juarez, Hagy, Martin, Mei, Murphree, Paulus, Staley, Stansfield, Stow, and Valunas) and three voting nay (Hart, Holmes, and McKinney).
The meeting adjourned at 8:41 p.m.
Attachments (4) to these minutes are available on request from the ORSSAB support office.