God in DOE?
Joseph Carson (firstname.lastname@example.org)
12 Oct 96 10:14:24 EDT
(ala Kelly Monroe's current book, GOD AT HARVARD).
This open letter is going to run in newspapers here in Knoxville/Oak Ridge
and in Washington, DC early next week. I hope my story is catapaulted to a
national news item and picked up by Presidential Campaigns. ASA's current
mission statement is silent on ASA'ers being "salt, light, and leaven" in
their individual workplaces and larger professional communities. If I have
a media platform, I want to use it to encourage potential ASA'ers to join
Please pray about this matter and particularly how it can be used to advance
some Kingdom Values in technical and academic professions in America.
YO, DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY (DOE) - THREE STRIKES, YOU'RE OUT!
AN OPEN LETTER TO DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY SECRETARY HAZEL R. O'LEARY
FROM JOSEH P. CARSON, P.E., WHO HAS "PREVAILED" TWICE IN TWO
WHISTLEBLOWER REPRISAL APPEALS TO THE US MERIT SYSTEMS PROTECTION
BOARD (MSPB) - WAS ANYTHING DONE TO THOSE RESPONSIBLE? NO, AND
NOW DOE HAS THREATENED TO REMOVE HIS SECURITY CLEARANCE*
*(MSPB Docket Nos. SL-1221-94-0179-W-1; AT-1221-95-1197-W-1; and
AT-1221-96-0948-W-1. DOE has now paid over $50,000 for Mr.
Carson's attorney fees)
Dear Secretary O'Leary,
On January 2, 1990, I took an oath of allegiance to the US
Government on becoming an employee of the US Department of Energy
(DOE). All my actions as a DOE employee are and have been rooted
in my desire to faithfully serve with integrity, honoring my oath
and with the "Code of Ethics of Government Service" by 1) obeying
the law, 2) obeying Agency regulation, 3) telling the truth, and
4) doing my job efficiently.
In December 1991, I voiced concerns about wasteful and abusive
practices in the use of support service contractors in my
program, the Office of Environment, Safety, and Health (EH)
Residents. These individuals were being used for the purposes
described in DOE Order 3304.1, "Employment of Experts and
Consultants," but in ways that clearly violated the DOE Order.
When I voiced my concerns, I was unaware that DOE's annual budget
for support service contractors had risen from 50 million dollars
in 1985 to almost 800 million dollars in 1991. Unwittingly, I
had voiced concerns about something that had become a huge "slush
fund" that DOE managers could direct to their close personal
friends and previous colleagues. You have testified to Congress
on several occasions about the "lack of discipline" you found as
Secretary in the DOE's use of support service contractors.
In reprisal for my voicing concerns, DOE has engaged in an
"ethics cleansing" campaign against me for over four and a half
years. In confronting it, I have incurred costs of over $30,000,
have spent over 3000 hours of personal time, and have possibly
ruined my 20 year career in nuclear power. However, Secretary
O'Leary, the cost of DOE's whistleblower reprisal campaign
against me has quite plausibly been much higher to other DOE and
DOE contractor employees who have or will pay with their lives in
resulting additional workplace fatalities.
As you know, DOE is self-regulating in nuclear safety and worker
safety. Neither the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) nor the
Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has
jurisdiction in DOE facilities. I'm one of DOE's few field-based
"independent" internal nuclear and worker safety assessors,
assigned to the DOE's Office of Environment, Safety, and Health
(EH). I'm the last line of defense in DOE for worker, facility,
and public safety, no one in DOE looks over my shoulder.
As an essential part of the whistleblower reprisal campaign
against me, management officials in the Office of Assistant
Secretary of Environment, Safety, and Health suppressed knowledge
from DOE line management of numerous valid and significant safety
deficiencies that I had independently identified and documented.
This was done in order to justify the fraudulent "unacceptable"
performance rating I received from those officials. How can DOE
line management be responsible for safety when knowledge of
independently identified safety deficiencies is withheld from it?
I consider the actions of the EH officials involved to be
treacherous. They betrayed their oaths of allegiance and
advanced their whistleblower reprisal campaign against me by
allowing DOE facilities, DOE workers, and the public near DOE
sites to remain at increased risk.
I was present in November 1993 when you pledged "zero tolerance
for whistleblower reprisal in DOE." It's nice rhetoric,
Secretary O'Leary, but my reality is that DOE still has "zero
tolerance for whistleblowers." The most dismal thing about this
situation is the counsel of despair I would offer, based on my
experience and that of many other DOE whistleblowers, to any
colleague in DOE who was considering voicing a reasonably
evidenced concern - "look the other way, if you can live with
yourself." It is that dismal in DOE, Secretary O'Leary, your
rhetoric and good intentions notwithstanding. It has to change.
I have three reports to make: 1) to my fellow citizens of this
great country, 2) to my professional community of professional
engineers, and 3) to my faith community.
Citizens - there is a cancer present in our increasingly
technological society. Individuals who have direct
responsibilities for our health and safety are too often
justifiably afraid of whistleblower reprisal to voice concerns
about safety deficiencies in their workplaces - be it food
processing plants, water treatment plants, airline maintenance,
health care, highway inspection, nuclear power plants, etc.
There is frequently a legitimate tension between safety and
efficiency in our society's workplaces, but it's illegitimate to
attempt to resolve this tension by silencing those who raise
legitimate safety concerns. The plight of Americans who have
lost their livelihoods by placing allegiance to the common good
above personal consideration should shame all of us. It is that
Professional Engineers (P.E.) - As a condition of our State
licenses, we are bound by the "Code of Ethics for Engineers"
which states as its first fundamental canon, "Engineers shall
hold paramount the safety, health, and welfare of the public in
the performance of their professional duties." Adherence to the
Code of Ethics of Engineers is also a requirement for membership
in the major Engineering Technical Societies. We must do a
better job of protecting our Code of Ethics by collectively
acting to protect our colleagues who risk their livelihoods by
adhering to our Code of Ethics. What's a Code of Ethics worth if
the people who have pledged allegiance to it will not actively
support those who risk much to adhere to it?
Christians who have careers in a profession - we, as other
professionals, spend the best hours of the best days of our lives
either preparing for or pursuing our careers in our chosen
profession. Too often, too much we have abnegated our call to be
"salt, light, and leaven" in our professions.
Conclusion: DOE's current estimate of the cost to remediate its
sites is about 180 billion dollars. What are the implications of
my story on this staggering cost? I think there are several:
o Whistleblower reprisal in DOE is alive and well and distorts
everything DOE does. Workers are afraid to voice safety concerns
for fear of reprisal (I couldn't have found so many obvious
safety deficiencies in DOE otherwise; many fellow workers have
confirmed this). "A stitch in time saves nine," so to speak, and
now DOE has to deal with situations that are much worse,
technically, than would have existed had there not been such a
fear of reprisal for voicing recognized safety concerns.
o DOE has made many people very rich, frequently as a direct
result of flagrant violations of safety rules - greed by managers
was the root cause of fear of reprisal in the workers. Now the
same managers and companies, in many cases, expect another
"windfall" for correcting the situations they created - almost
literally like "paying the killer to find the body."
Secretary O'Leary, you made a public commitment to change DOE's
repressive culture and protect DOE's ethical employees in
November 1993. My situation offers you and DOE an opportunity of
cleanse itself of a repressive and coercive culture that is an
insult to every taxpayer and every ethical DOE employee. Here
are DOE's options in my case:
1 Publicly admit fault in my case, agree that a number of my
safety finding were suppressed within EH, and agree to make fair
restitution for the costs I have or can reasonably expect to
incur for my loyal and efficient service in DOE, or
2 Be publicly found at fault, compounded by DOE's continuing
campaign of reprisal against me.
It's past time for you and this Agency to step up to the plate
about this matter, Secretary O'Leary.
Joseph Carson, P.E.
EH Resident, Oak Ridge
internet: <JoeandDOE@aol.com>; fax (423) 966-1675
World Wide Web: <http://www.whistleblower.org/gap>