Hearings and Business Meetings
SD-366 Energy Committee Hearing Room 10:00 AM
The Honorable James Rispoli
Statement of James A. Rispoli
Assistant Secretary for Environmental Management
U. S. Department of Energy
Committee on Energy and Natural Resources
United States Senate
November 15, 2005
Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee, I am pleased to be here today to answer your
questions on the status of the Department of Energy’s Environmental Management (EM)
program. I would like to thank Chairman Domenici and this committee for your support for the
EM program. In particular, I would like to recognize the efforts of Chairman Domenici and
Senator Allard with respect to the impending cleanup of the Rocky Flats site. I would also like
to thank Senator Salazar for his work on Rocky Flats at the state level and since coming to
Congress. As you are aware, the Department is currently verifying the physical completion of
Rocky Flats cleanup.
Since I first appeared before you in July, I have been familiarizing myself with the program, the
issues and the people that are responsible for cleaning up the environmental legacy of the Cold
War. From my visits to Paducah, the Idaho National Laboratory, Hanford, West Valley,
Savannah River Site, Oak Ridge Reservation, Ohio Field Office and the Consolidated Business
Center and interactions with our personnel throughout the complex, I can say we have a driven
workforce that is making immense headway in some of the nation’s most crucial environmental
actions. As I have become more informed on the sheer immensity of the challenges that face the
program, I ha ve a greater understanding of the progress we have made and the significant issues
that lie before us.
The program has made significant progress in the last four years in shifting focus from risk
management to risk reduction and cleanup completion. We are on schedule to complete cleanup
at Rocky Flats, Fernald, and Mound. We have moved and secured nuclear material and spent
fuel to reduce risk and prepare them for ultimate disposition. We have disposed of huge amounts
of radioactive waste and remediated many of the contaminated areas at our sites. These
accomplishments add up to an impressive amount of cleanup and risk reduction. Some
· Rocky Flats has concluded the physical cleanup of the site and the Department is in the
process of verifying completion.
· All buildings at Mound planned for demolition have been taken down.
· Fernald completed the largest waste shipping campaign in DOE history as the 154th train of
waste pit material was shipped off site for disposal. The remediation of the waste pits
eliminated a direct source of contamination to the Great Miami Aquifer.
· The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant continues to play a major role in completing cleanup
throughout the EM complex – in the spring the site received the final transuranic waste
shipment from Rocky Flats.
· Richland completed removal of plutonium “hold up” from the Plutonium Finishing Plant
more than a year ahead of schedule, significantly reducing a security, worker, and
· The Savannah River Site completed construction of the M Area Dynamic Underground
Stripping System. After 2 months of operation, 14,200 pounds of volatile organic
compounds have been removed from the soil and ground water.
· The Idaho National Laboratory emptied a Category 1 Material Access Area four years ahead
of plan, reducing a security threat and mortgage costs.
All those who contributed to these successes should be proud to have played a part and we thank
this committee in particular for your support.
As you are fully aware, the mission is not an easy one---the most visible example being the
Waste Treatment Plant at Hanford. The Waste Treatment Plant project is arguably the largest,
most complex construction project in the nation. As you know, the Waste Treatment Plant is
encountering design and construction setbacks. The Department has remained committed to fix
the problems correctly. Because of the size and complexity of the plant, fully understanding all
the facts will take a few more months. The Department, along with the U.S. Army Corps of
Engineers and our contractor, is currently undertaking several major activities to ensure we fully
understand what is required to complete construction and begin operations. While some may
characterize our effort to validate the cost and timeline for the project as overly cautious, it is
responsible management---responsible management that is key to the successful completion of
Just as importantly, for us to be successful, we must have:
· credible project baselines,
· effective identification and management of risks,
· selection of the most appropriate contract type and fee earning method
corresponding to the scope of work and uncertainties,
· realistic schedules,
· early and frequent communication with regulators, communities, stakeho lders,
Congress, and contractors,
· improvements and training on the source selection process,
· an integrated human capital management program stressing an experienced
acquisition and project management staff, and strong technical staff, especially for
nuclear related issues, and
· constant real-time feedback of lessons learned.
Paramount to our success is safety—it is our top priority. Safety affects all involved----federal
employees, contractors, the site and the community. We will continue to maintain and demand
the highest safety performance in all that we do. Every worker deserves to go home as healthy
as she or he was when they came to the job in the morning. I have told all our field managers
that no schedule, no milestone, is worth any injury to our work force.
Such a multi- faceted approach is central to superior performance and improved accountability.
Clearly, opportunities exist to improve our acquisition practices. We are an “Acquisition”
agency with a capital A—in terms of both procurement and project execution. It is vital that EM
acquire the best services and attract the best the contractor community, including small business,
has to offer. In order to do that we must be reliable, clear, meet deadlines and be responsive to
our prospective bidders. We must ensure that we have highly skilled employees dedicated to this
process. For us, we are acquiring an end state---- a site that has completed cleanup or attained
closure. We will sharpen our skills and refocus our enterprise to reflect our acquisition
responsibilities. The organizational structure must support the emphasis of technical excellence,
integration of project management and contract acquisition/administration in order to meet this
goal. It must also incorporate effective incentives for the federal and contractor workforce for
superior performance, and accountability for field office and headquarters managers, project
managers, and contracting officers for meeting cost, schedule and performance expectations.
It is my goal to lead EM as a results-driven high performance organization. We will instill a
strict project management mindset that will be ingrained in all projects. Our performance on
many key projects has not been acceptable. My goal is that at least 90 percent of our projectized
portfolio will perform on or better than our cost and schedule targets. We have taken major
strides in integrating safety; now we must do the same with project management. Project
management must not be viewed as a burden or an extra step that we have to take. It is the very
backbone of our project planning and execution. This includes reporting and oversight as well.
The management tools used to manage cost and schedules must be used to manage and provide
oversight integrally. Our success will depend on our ability to build in this rigor. I am taking
immediate steps to upgrade EM’s project management systems and initiate remedies to be a bestin-
class project execution organization. We will target the shortcomings in our project
management by using both DOE and industry standard project management and business
management processes. I will personally conduct Quarterly Reviews of all EM projects and
have directed that my senior staff carry out monthly reviews. This includes fully implementing
our management systems through the use of earned value management, following through on
corrective actions, and better applying risk management principals—that is identifying project
uncertainties, developing mitigation measures and contingency and holding action officers
accountable for their resolution. I believe that this is the key to our success with strong and
effective project management.
Complementing these refinements, we must ensure that our projects are managed by highly
skilled, competent and dedicated leaders and staff workers, both Federal and contractor. Our
managers and staff must have the appropriate skills to perform their functions. We are currently
doing a skills gap analysis to determine where we may need to provide additional help to our
existing staff’s training or adding to staff. We have instigated a certification program for our
project managers. Our goal is, by May 2006, all EM Federal project managers will be certified.
We want to assure ourselves that we have the right skills mix to get the job done. We are
assuring that our employees are provided career deve lopment, rewards, and support in the
appropriate way. I firmly believe that an organization is never better than its employees. Our
employees, federal and contractor, hold the key to our success.
Just as importantly, these managers and their staff, skilled in the competencies to do their job,
will have the responsibility and the authority to meet the program’s objectives. We will
streamline the relationship between the field and headquarters to enable the program to be more
effective in its oversight role. I believe that if you have the right people in the right job with the
right skills, they should be empowered to execute their responsibilities and be accountable for
their decisions and outcomes.
Our desire is that at Headquarters and each site, our key acquisition and technical personnel,
including contracting officers, have knowledge of technical issues, project management, business
management at an equivalent level of expertise as their contractor counterparts to promote
meaningful, and cogent dialogue on substantive issues. Our job as a federal agency is
management and oversight, to be responsible envoys and stewards of the public’s trust and
resources. Therefore, we must have a highly qualified and technically proficient management
team. Ultimately, my aim is to have a high performing organization, sustained by a career
oriented workforce, driven to produce results that are important now and into the future.
I believe that by taking these steps we will be in a position to address the challenges that lie
before us. I am committed to work with all interested parties to resolve issues and will work
with this committee and the Congress to address any of your concerns or interests. DOE, our
regulators, the communities and our contractors are partners in this effort. This partnership goes
far beyond the limits of a contract or an agreement. Our success relies on this partnership. We
are in this together---we all succeed or we all fail together. Your continued support is crucial to
maintain the momentum that has so painstakingly been achieved. Thank you for your
confidence in confirming my nomination as Assistant Secretary this past summer.
I look forward to continuing dialog with you and your staff.