Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Mark Gilbertson Reassigned

In June 2019, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced that Assistant Secretary for Environmental Management (EM) Anne White had submitted her resignation.  White’s resignation, which was detailed in a department announcement signed off with the names of Secretary of Energy Rick Perry and the Deputy Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette, became effective on June 14, 2019.

Overview

DOE’s Assistant Secretary for Environmental Management  The DOE memo does not provide a reason for White’s resignation.  “Anne’s service to the Department of Energy and to this nation are greatly appreciated,” the personnel announcement reportedly reads.  “Please join us in wishing her the best in her future endeavors.”

However, reports indicate that White was asked to resign by her immediate supervisor, Undersecretary of Energy for Science Paul Dabbar.  In addition to friction with Dabbar, her departure was linked to concerns about her handling of the spread of radioactive contamination from the Portsmouth Site in Ohio to the surrounding area.  Last month, a middle school near the site closed early for summer due to reported radiological contaminants in air samples.  DOE says that its own air monitoring has shown only trace amounts of contaminants including neptunium-237 and americium-241 that are far below being a risk to human health.  Nonetheless, the Department has agreed to pay for extra air sampling this summer by an outside consultant.

DOE’s Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Environmental Management  Mark Gilbertson, who is currently DOE’s Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Environmental Management, has also been reassigned.  According to the DOE memo, Gilbertson will become the Director of the Department’s National Laboratory Operations Board.  The Board works to strengthen DOE’s national labs and their shared relationships.

Todd Shrader, the Manager of Environmental Management’s Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) Carlsbad Field Office, will replace Gilbertson as the EM Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, according to the memo.

National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) Management  William “Ike” White, the Chief of Staff at the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), will now serve as a Senior Advisor to DOE Under Secretary for Science Paul Dabbar.  Among other things, Dabbar oversees environmental- and legacy-management missions.

The NNSA is in charge of the nation’s nuclear complex and related nonproliferation.  Late last month, William Bookless was sworn in as the NNSA’s Principal Deputy Administrator.

Background

Environmental Management, established in 1989, is charged with cleaning up the nation’s legacy from the Cold War and other government-sponsored energy research.  On January 3, 2018, the White House announced President Donald J. Trump’s intent to nominate White to be the EM Assistant Secretary.  On March 22, 2018, White was confirmed for the position by voice vote of the U.S. Senate.  White was sworn in on March 29, 2018.

Prior to White’s swearing-in, James Owendoff had been serving as the Acting EM-1 Assistant Secretary.  In this role, Owendoff focused on more timely decisions on cleanup projects.  The position was previously held by Monica Regalbuto at the end of the administration of former-President Barack Obama.

For additional information about the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Disposal, please go to www.energy.gov.

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