[ RadSafe ] NRC blogpost on questioning attitude

Peter Crane kinderhook46 at yahoo.com
Sat Jun 1 12:35:40 CDT 2013

Clayton --

Your point is well taken, but since I left the NRC 14 years ago, I cannot speak to the situation there today. I can testify, however, that during my many years at NRC, from 1975 to 1999, tolerance for dissent was in general low. (There were commendable exceptions: my first boss there, Commissioner Marcus A. Rowden, used to say that it was easy to get people to shut up; the trick was to get them to speak up.) 

Although in that era the NRC urged licensees to create a work environment where employees felt free to raise safety concerns without fear of retaliation, at the NRC itself it was a different story. I recall an all-employees meeting in about 1992 where an NRC employee asked the then Chairman whether he would like to make a statement encouraging the same kind of open expression of differing views that he encouraged licensees to make possible. His reply was testy, and included the statement that "You don't increase your popularity by using the DPO [Differing Professional Opinion] process too often." Small wonder that surveys of NRC employees repeatedly showed that most believed that expressing differing views would have adverse consequences for their careers. 

Having said that, though, I don't think that the NRC differed all that much in that respect from most other organizations I have known. It is human nature that conformists are usually better liked than boat-rockers.  

The Austrian member of this listserv will know all about the Order of Maria Theresa, which rewarded successful actions taken by officers on their own initiative, without prior approval from above. It's a very rare organization that honors individual initiative in that way. 

-- Peter Crane, NRC Counsel for Special Projects (retired)


Message: 1
Date: Fri, 31 May 2013 13:55:34 -0400
From: Clayton J Bradt <CJB01 at health.state.ny.us>
Subject: Re: [ RadSafe ] NRC blog post on Questioning Attitude
To: kinderhook46 at yahoo.com,    radsafe at health.phys.iit.edu
    <OF5C46E8DF.F6C9C065-ON85257B7C.005F7C53-85257B7C.006279A5 at notes.health.state.ny.us>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=US-ASCII


To your knowledge has any NRC manager ever been disciplined for
discouraging a questioning attitude on the part of subordinates or for
being intolerant of dissenting views? Until members of the SES see their
career paths adversely affected by such behavior nothing will change.

Clayton Bradt
Principal Radiophysicist
NYS Dept. of Health

More information about the RadSafe mailing list