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With respect to the other two matters, as you are aware, some aspects of them are already being considered in various ongoing investigations. The Commission has approved certain proposed actions by the EDO to address the problems raised by the Comanche Peak report. In addition, an OIA investigation found no improper conduct in the Stello conversation with Mr. White. The Commission is in the process of appointing an outside, Independent investigator to investigate those matters and produce a report .for Commission consideration. Until these investigations have been completed, it would be premature to provide further comment on those matters.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. We appreciate this opportunity to appear before the Subcommittee today and are ready to answer any questions you may have.

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Mr. Gejdenson. Is Bernthal next? I understand he is going to abandon ship and we appreciate his being able to be here today as he is going off to do some work elsewhere.

So, Mr. Bernthal.

Mr. Bernthal. Mr. Chairman, I appreciate your and the committee's willingness to allow me to take an early departure today. As you know, I have been asked to carry out other duties that require my absence to catch a flight this morning.

Let me just summarize briefly the comments that I have submitted for the record here. From the beginning, I have had a somewhat different perspective than my colleagues on the issues of statutory Inspector General for the NRC and the designation of the Commission's Office of Investigations as a statutory entity reporting to the Commission.

I don't see the need for a statutory Inspector General because I don't think that an impartial examination of the record suggests a need for such a change. But I must say that while it may not be strictly necessary, a statutory IG would relieve the Commission of a burden it can do very nicely without.

Three times now, under two different heads of the Office of the Inspector and Auditor, since I became a member of this Commission, I have seen inordinate diversion—that is counting the present circumstance—of Commission time and attention to deal with personnel matters associated with that office, to deal with assertions that OIA hasn't done its job properly.

If the Congress feels strongly that such an office, independent IG, would permit the Commission to carry out its statutory responsibilities more efficiently—and it very well may—I do not now and I never have objected to such a change. Congress is welcome to assume the burden of oversight responsibility for an NRC Inspector General.

With regard to the Office of Investigations, Mr. Chairman, if as Senator Glenn represented in a recent hearing on this issue chaired by him, the sole purpose in designating 01 as a statutory office is simply to preserve the status quo in which 01 reports to the Commission and is under the general supervision of the Commission, I have no difficulty whatsoever with that proposition.

I would note that the only practical effect of the designation of 01 as a statutory office in the legislation submitted by you, Mr. Chairman, and on the Senate side as well, would be to prevent the Commission from ever requiring the head of the Office of Investigations to report to the EDO. I see that as the only practical consequence.

Since I have never supported such a change and since there seems to be little disagreement on the need for an Office of Investigation at this point, and since it is now clear as a practical matter that the Commission is highly unlikely in the foreseeable future to attempt to require the Director of 01 to report to the Executive Director, I don't oppose at all formalizing in law the status quo with respect to OI.

Mr. Chairman, I am going to skip over the bulk and balance of my comments, and I would like to just comment finally that I feel compelled to state that I am deeply troubled, that as an indirect consequence of what I believe to have been at the outset an unwise and untenable position taken by the Commission majority on the specific legislative issues here—establishment of an independent Inspector General and confirming in statute the Office of Investigations as currently constituted—the Commission now finds itself embroiled in seemingly interminable controversy.

No less than four separate investigations are underway, in some cases investigations of investigations, and on and on. None of this was really necessary and most of it has occurred because of ill-considered, indeed almost unconsidered, Commission opposition to these two straightforward proposals that, for the reasons I have noted, would be of minimal practical consequence for the day-today operation of the Commission .

Mr. Chairman, while this NRC may not be perfect, it is still the only NRC the country has. And to this day, when it comes to the professional integrity, credentials, and dedication of the employees of this agency, I will stack up the NRC against any organization in the U.S. Government.

That concludes my remarks for now, Mr. Chairman.

[Prepared statement of Mr. Bernthal follows:]

Remarks of Commissioner Frederick M. Bernthal,
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
before the

Subcommittee on General Oversight and Investigations
of the House Committee on the Interior and Insular Affairs

June 11, 1987

From the beginning, I have had a different perspective than my colleagues on the issues of a statutory inspector general for the NRC and the designation of the Commission's Office of Investigation as a statutory entity reporting to the Commission.

I do not see the need for a statutory inspector general, because I do not believe an impartial examination of the record suggests a need for such a change. But I must add that, while it may not be strictly necessary, a statutory IG would relieve the Commission of a burden that it can nicely do without. Three times now, under two different heads of the Office of Inspection and Audit since I became a member of the Commission, I have seen inordinate diversion of Commission time and attention to deal with personnel matters associated with that office — to deal with assertions that OIA has not done its job properly.

Therefore, if the Congress feels strongly that such an office would permit the Commission to carry out its statutory responsibilities more efficiently, I do not now and never have objected to such a change. The Congress is welcome to assume the burden of oversight responsibility for an NRC Inspector General.

With regard to the Office of Investigations, if as Senator Glenn represented at a recent hearing on this issue chaired by him, the sole purpose in designating 01 as a statutory office is simply to preserve the status quo in which 01 reports to the Commission and is under the general - 2

supervision of the Commission, I have no difficulty whatsoever with that proposition.

I note that the only practical effect of the designation of 01 as a statutory office in the legislation now before the Congress would be to prevent the Commission from ever requiring the head of the Office of Investigations to report to the EDO. Since I have never supported such a change, and since there seems to be little disagreement on the need for an Office of Investigation, and since it is now clear as a practical matter that the Commission is highly unlikely in the foreseeable future to attempt such a change, I do not oppose formalizing in law the status quo with respect to 01.

That said however, I feel compelled to note that the provisions of S.908 and H.R. 2126 concerning the Office of Investigations appear to me to be internally inconsistent. On the one hand, the proposed legislation requires the Director of 01 to report to and be under the general supervision of the Commission; on the other hand, it provides that no member of the Commission may prevent or prohibit the director of 01 from initiating, carrying out, or completing any investigation.

This language could be read as denying the Commission its responsibility and authority to set broad priorities for the use of the investigative resources of the Agency, and to apply those resources to matters which the Commission designates as having the highest priority for carrying out the Commission's public health and safety responsibilities. To the extent that such legislation could be so interpreted as denying the Commission its rightful authority, I believe such action by the Congress would be inappropriate, unwise, and may create an entity clearly responsible to no one.

It bears emphasis that, despite all the rhetoric we have heard on this subject in the past weeks, I do not know of a single instance in which the Commission has prevented the Office of Investigations from initiating, carrying out, or completing any particular investigation which the director

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