Annette Vietti-Cook is the NRC’s Secretary of the Commission
- How would you describe your job in three sentences or less?
Every day I work directly with the Commission offices managing the Commission’s decisionmaking process, and as the official record keeper, historian, and meeting coordinator. I oversee the planning of Commission meetings, drafting of Commission decisions, tracking of Commission requirements, and managing of Commission correspondence and records, and rulemaking and adjudicatory dockets. I also work with the agency’s historian.
- What is the single most important thing that you do at work?
Communicate effectively. My staff and I work closely and daily with the Commission and their staff as well as with the Executive Director for Operations staff. We provide advice on Commission policies and procedures, help to prepare items for Commission consideration, convey Commission decisions, and prepare for Commission meetings. As the Secretary, I must constructively address issues with the Commission and staff, acknowledge dissenting opinions and use good communication – and good judgement – in a way that ultimately benefits the agency’s performance of its mission.
- What is the single biggest challenge you face?
Training, developing, and mentoring employees so my office can provide outstanding support to the Commission. Commissioners come and go, so it’s important that the Office of the Secretary maintain the institutional knowledge of how the Commission does its work. The Internal Commission Procedures, which lay out how all manner of regulatory and policy issues are handled, are vitally important but can never tell the whole story. I’ve been with the agency for 34 years and Secretary for 17 years and many of my staff have similar long tenures. So we believe our institutional knowledge is a real asset.
- If you could change one thing at the NRC or within the nuclear industry, what would it be?
Eliminate the requirement that the NRC substantially recover the cost of its annual budget through the imposition of fees collected from NRC licensees. This structure creates the misimpression among some that NRC inappropriately considers fees in carrying out its important safety and security mission. By eliminating fees, the NRC would license and regulate independently through congressionally appropriated funds, just like most other federal agencies.
- What one thing about the NRC do you wish more people knew?
The NRC is full of competent, dedicated and hardworking people. There is also a squash court on the roof of the building. Yes, even regulators can have a sense of humor.
Five Questions is an occasional series in which we pose the same questions to different NRC staff members.