Avoidance of Conflicts of Interest
Members were appointed to the Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future (“the Commission”) either as special government employees (SGEs), or as representatives of particular sectors with a special interest in the matters to be studied. SGE members of the Commission are expected to render their unbiased expert advice. Representative members of the Commission are expected to bring their distinctive experience in a particular sector to the discussion, and to reflect the thinking of that sector.
Three of the Commission’s members have been appointed as representative members: Richard Meserve and John Rowe are representing industry, and Mark Ayers is representing the building trades. The remaining Commission members have been appointed as SGEs and are subject to the same conflict of interest restrictions as full-time executive branch employees, although some special exemptions and provisions apply in recognition of their temporary status and the advisory nature of their task. The applicable restrictions will be fully enforced.
As with any advisory committee, especially one with a broad mandate, the work of the Commission is likely to create some potential conflicts of interest for some of its members. During the tenure of the Commission, such potential conflicts of interest will be continually and carefully evaluated by DOE’s Office of General Counsel (OGC) – which will put in place any recusals that are needed to avoid actual conflicts of interest. Any recusals will be made on the public record.
In the near term, OGC has identified a potential conflict and has already taken steps to avoid it.
The charge to the Commission includes the responsibility to make recommendations with regard to the use and disposition of fees currently being charged to nuclear energy ratepayers for disposal of spent nuclear fuel generated by reactors. SGEs with more than $25,000 in stock in a company, or who serve on a Board of Directors for such a company that generates spent nuclear fuel, will be recused from those deliberations because the company is a member of a group of entities that will be affected by the recommendations of the Commission.
In addition, SGEs may be recused from deliberations if entities with which they have a "covered relationship" will be specifically and individually affected by the deliberations of the Commission. A covered relationship exists with an entity for whom a SGE member serves (or has served within the last 12 months) as an officer, director, trustee, employee, consultant, or attorney. So, for example, if a SGE has a compensated consulting relationship with a particular company in the nuclear industry, the SGE may be required to recuse himself or herself from any deliberations that would specifically affect that company.