Saturday, December 11, 2021

Two CSB Nominees Confirmed by Senate

On Thursday, the Senate took up the nominations for two appointees to be board members for the US Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB). The nominations of Stephen Owens and Sylvia Johnson were considered en bloc under the Senate’s unanimous consent process. The nominations were both confirmed with no debate and no vote.

Owns and Johnson were nominated along with Jenifer Sass by President Biden back in April. The three nominees appeared before the Senate’s Environment and Public Works Committee on July 29th, 2021. The testimony from the three nominees can be found here (Owens), here (Sass) and here (Johnson). The Committee voted on recommending approval of the nominations on September 22nd, 2021. The Sass nomination was not approved (pg 18) on a tie vote. The nominations of Owens and Johnson were approved in a voice vote (pg 19) en bloc with four bills considered on the same day. It is not clear if/when the Senate leadership could bring up the Sass nomination. It would require a majority vote in the Senate to order the Committee to report the nomination without recommendation.

These two will bring the Board to three members (the Board is supposed to consist of five members). The CSB’s announcement of the confirmation notes that:

“In addition to voting on investigations and safety products, another fundamental element of our process – advocacy – is a key role performed by the Board. Each member, based on their experience, technical background, and interest, selects one or two key advocacy efforts from our Critical Drivers List (CDL) to present the CSB’s perspective to our industries, communities, and regulating bodies. This dramatically improves the impact and activity around chemical plant operations with a direct effect on worker, community, and environmental safety.”

1 comment:

Rosearray said...

A couple of weeks ago the CSB quietly posted its FY2021 Performance and Accountability Report on their website:

As in the FY2020 report, their organizational chart as of 9/30/2021 is included. From a casual perusal, it looks fine - lots of positions and reporting relationships. But take a close look… 🔍 In addition to the known vacancies at Board level, there are vacancies at the following:
-10 Investigator positions vacant (note - the two new Investigators added in FY2021 are William Steiner and Samantha Barton Fullerton, but Wills Hougland left the CSB during the year)
-The Director of Administration is vacant (previously Anna Brown in FY2020)
-The Chief Information Officer position is vacant (previously Charlie Bryant in FY2020)
-There is a vacancy in Communications (previously Executive Assistant Allen in FY2020)
-In the Finance group, the Contracting Officer is shown as vacant (previously Humpfrey? in FY2020)
-Both Tom Goonan (previously General Counsel in FY2020) and Ray Porfiri (previously Attorney Advisor in FY2020) are gone, with one Attorney-Advisor position shown as vacant; the position of General Counsel is no longer listed for FY2021

In addition to this, in the Recommendations group, Amanda Johnson has already left the CSB, and Dr. Lemos said at the end of the recent public meeting that Mark Kaszniak (who is also the DASHO [Designated Agency Safety and Health Official]) would be retiring. This will leave only Recommendations Director Charles Barbee!

Of all these vacancies, only a Contract Specialist position (applications closing on 8/13/2021) is still listed on the “Career Opportunities” portion of the CSB website. What the heck! It sure looks to me like the CSB is flat out hemorrhaging personnel.

/* Use this with templates/template-twocol.html */