By Amanda Ruggeri, Washington Whispers
President Obama may not exactly be keen on nuclear power, but that can't keep the folks at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission down. They're still happy to work at the agency, which independently oversees and regulates the nation's use of radioactive materials—so happy that of all 278 federal organizations, the NRC has been rated No. 1 for the second time in a row in the Best Places to Work rankings.
Why? "Management involvement in human resource issues, especially senior management involvement," says Jim McDermott, director of the NRC's office of human resources. What does that mean in non-corporatespeak? That the powers that be at the agency take an active interest in the welfare of their employees, McDermott says—by introducing, for instance, a pilot program that enables the 400-some employees at one of the offices to come in when they want, leave when they want, and work from home when they want. "It enables employees to pick their own poison on hours of work," McDermott says. "You can start your day at home, and then you can come in after the traffic has calmed, and you can get home early and you can go back on your computer and work some more."
But that's not to say that office morale has been untouched by Obama's lukewarm posture on nuclear energy. "Obviously, his administration is not going to be as gung-ho as the previous administration," McDermott says. "Our official posture is, we're above that battle. We don't promote nuclear power or the use of nuclear materials; we just like to see it done safely if someone chooses to do that." But, he says, one aspect of the new administration's posture has hit morale: Obama's decision not to store nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain, Nev. "We have a lot of people who have been working on that for a very long time, and now they're saying, 'Now what?' " McDermott says.
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