Published in the May/June 2011 issue of print Search & Employ® |
The recent disaster in Japan that left people wondering about the safety of nuclear power put the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) in America’s headlines. The safety issue is something that the men and women of the NRC think about every day; their mission is to protect people and the environment through their regulatory activities.
Glenn Tracy, deputy director of the Office of Human Resources, a veteran, and an engineer, said that the mission drives the people at the NRC to succeed. For that reason, he believes veterans feel at home there. “This place understands you,” he said. “You can feel it when you walk the halls or even ride in the elevator.”
Tracy has worked for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission since 1989. He has held positions of increasing responsibility, including roles as a reactor inspector, senior resident inspector, staff supervisor, manager, and leader for key agency programs and initiatives. Prior to joining the NRC, Tracy served for seven years on active duty as a submarine officer in the Navy’s Nuclear Power Program. Tracy is currently a captain in the Navy Reserve.
“This is a very diverse agency,” Tracy said. “It used to be very heavily resourced from the Navy, but we’ve made a concentrated effort to diversify, because we recognize that there are technical skills to be found in all branches of the military and the civilian world.”
Tracy said the agency has been in a hiring mode for several years, often adding 400 or more people annually. They are in a more of a maintenance mode now, but are still looking to hire around 200 people a year. He also said the NRC has been ranked as one of the best agencies to work for in the federal government for three straight years—something he thinks comes from the employees’ belief in their mission and their dedication to public service.
“We’re looking for people who have that same mindset, and veterans usually do,” he said. “But don’t shy away from looking at our career opportunities just because you don’t have a nuclear background. We have need for people in security, IT, legal, and business roles.”
Tracy said that another benefit is that the NRC understands reserve and Guard commitments. “There are a lot of people in this agency who have been called up to active duty,” he said. “We know why that happens and that it’s going to happen, so we’re prepared. We take care of the employee, but also make sure the employee’s family is taken care of from a benefits and nurturing standpoint as well.” The NRC also has a transition program to help new employees get settled in their field and achieve a good work-life balance.
It is important to note that in 2009, President Obama signed Executive Order 13518, Employment of Veterans in the Federal Government, to enhance and promote federal opportunities for veterans. As a result, NRC has special authority to appoint veterans when certain conditions are met. Those conditions are listed on the commission’s website, under About NRC/Employment Opportunities/Veterans Employment Initiative. “It’s important that veterans understand the veteran’s preference and that they indicate when applying that they have those preferences,” Tracy said.
Congress created the NRC was created as an independent agency in 1974. The commission regulates commercial nuclear power generation and other uses of nuclear materials, such as in nuclear medicine, through licensing, inspection, and enforcement. The NRC has three principal regulatory functions: (1) establish standards and regulations, (2) issue licenses for nuclear facilities and users of nuclear materials, and (3) inspect facilities and users of nuclear materials to ensure compliance.
The NRC staff numbers approximately 4,000 with a budget of about $1.067 billion. Roughly two-thirds of the employees work in the agency’s headquarters in Rockville, Maryland. The remainder are located primarily in four regional offices and at resident inspector offices at each commercial nuclear power plant and some fuel-cycle facilities.