Y-12 Blog

Posted: Wednesday, January 11, 2023 - 4:11pm

Every day, employees at Y-12 National Security Complex solve problems in the course of serving the national security mission
Every day, employees at Y-12 National Security Complex solve problems in the course of serving the national security mission. In the course of this work, some technologies are developed that may have broader utility and impact in the private sector.

In some cases, CNS is able to grant a technology license to private businesses, as was recently the case with Weatherly Consulting, LLC, a small, woman-owned business. Weatherly Consulting now has a copyright license for Y-12’s Readiness Certification Assurance Tracking Software (RCAPTS). The software, which was developed by Y-12 program manager John Raulston and subcontractor Garrett Cook, will help streamline the readiness review process for Weatherly Consulting’s customers.

Software streamlines complex processes

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) requires a disciplined, systematic, documented, performance-based examination of facilities, equipment, personnel, procedures and management control systems. This review ensures a facility can be operated safely and provides the basis for DOE to direct startup or restart of the facility, activity, or operation.

Navigating that requirement efficiently and effectively led Y-12 to develop RCAPTS as a web-based, multi-user tool that manages readiness projects, reviews, and associated activities. By managing workflows automatically and providing real-time status updates, the software assists users in completing readiness verification and certification as required by DOE orders.

Designed to eliminate or supplement paper-based administrative tasks, RCAPTS could also be used by software companies, engineering firms during construction and/or startup activities, and operating firms using complex processes in a highly regulated environment.

Big impact for small business

Weatherly Consulting is primarily focused on readiness verification in nuclear operations. The business was established in 2008 by Janet Weatherly, Owner and Principal. Licensing RCAPTS will streamline the core business, according to Weatherly.

“I am extremely excited about gaining access to the RCAPTS technology for my business and how it will help improve the readiness review process,” said Weatherly. “Being familiar with it already, it is definitely user friendly and can be used with very little training.”

There are several administrative requirements that must be documented before starting any review or assessment. The software automates this part of the process.

“It does everything for you,” said Weatherly. “You can sort by functional area, core requirements, and prerequisites—all within a minute. It cuts out so many steps.”

Transferring technology

CNS Technology Transfer actively manages and commercializes technologies that employees created and facilitates licensing those technologies to private companies to enhance the nation’s competitiveness.

Grant Allard, University and Industrial Partnerships program manager, agreed the software would create a complementary service for Weatherly Consulting and their approach to the overall readiness review process.

“The RCAPTS software puts all of the readiness data at the user’s fingertips,” said Allard. “It allows for faster, more reliable decisions and reviews on projects in real-time, and reduces cost. Working with a small business to transfer this one-of-a-kind technology for commercial use has been especially gratifying.”

The CNS team was able to guide Weatherly through the copyright-license process so that she could begin utilizing the software.

“I definitely recommend business owners collaborate with CNS on useful technology and software for their business,” said Weatherly. “They make the process so easy.”

Posted: Thursday, December 15, 2022 - 7:56am

Consolidated Nuclear Security President and Chief Executive Officer Rich Tighe
Consolidated Nuclear Security President and Chief Executive Officer Rich Tighe.

Take 5 minutes and learn about Consolidated Nuclear Security’s Richard Tighe, president and chief executive officer. All views and opinions are the employee’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of CNS.

Consolidated Nuclear Security (CNS) President and Chief Executive Officer Rich Tighe and his younger brother Jim played high school football for a legendary Iowa coach — their father Dick Tighe, whose career included more than 400 wins during 63 uninterrupted seasons.

Teamwork and football were familiar themes in the Tighe (pronounced “tie”) household in Webster City, Iowa. That “Friday night lights” culture of the small Midwestern town helped shape Tighe’s leadership philosophy.

“Everybody plays a part on the team,” he said. “In football, you might have to wait until your senior year to play, but the contributions you make to the team while you wait your turn are important.”

In his first few months as president and CEO, Tighe has been busy meeting National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) Production Office and CNS leadership teams; local, state, and national elected officials representing the West Texas and East Tennessee areas; NNSA leadership; and site and laboratory directors from across the Nuclear Security Enterprise.

Tighe is taking advantage of the extensive knowledge of the CNS team.

“There is tremendous knowledge and experience at both sites; by working to be inclusive, I’m able to use this to the best advantage in informing decisions,” he said. “I’m new to CNS, but even the most experienced person at Pantex or Y-12 can’t be an expert in all aspects of our work or the sites. Getting input from other people helps all of us take advantage of the full expertise available.”

Before joining CNS, Tighe served in roles with Bechtel and Lockheed Martin, and he is no stranger to the Nuclear Security Enterprise, having spent more than a decade at the Nevada National Security Site. Tighe was also a postdoctoral fellow in the Nuclear Science Division of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory at the University of California.

“Coming back to NNSA is like coming back to my roots,” he said. “It takes me back to my foundation in nuclear physics, which helps me understand the mission of both sites and how it fits into the broader Nuclear Security Enterprise.”

What daily task lets you know you’re helping achieve the CNS mission? How/why does that task let you know you’re working toward the mission?
No two days have been the same, so far. Meeting and talking to employees during tours and all hands meetings helps me to put their work in the context of the bigger picture of our mission.

How does patriotism factor into your life?
Patriotism becomes most meaningful to me when I think of the role the U.S. plays with our allies and adversaries around the world. It’s rewarding to be involved with such an important purpose and mission.

What one thing would your coworkers be surprised to know about you?
When I was a postdoctoral fellow in the Nuclear Science Division of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, I was the lead investigator for the work involved in the discovery of Sb 105 (antimony 105), a nuclear isotope along the proton drip line that has implications for nucleosynthesis. I proposed and planned the experiment, analyzed the data, and wrote the journal article.

What’s your favorite outside of work activity?
When we lived in Maryland, my daughters were involved in high school sports and also played on travel teams. My wife and I enjoyed traveling to their games and tournaments. My daughters and I had a tradition of running in a Turkey Trot every Thanksgiving. While I seldom run in 5Ks or other races these days, I typically run four times each week. I also really enjoy watching college football, particularly watching and attending Notre Dame games.

Posted: Tuesday, December 6, 2022 - 10:06am

Y-12’s Thomas Duncan (left) and Donnie Walker are members of the Special Government Employee program.
Y-12’s Thomas Duncan (left) and Donnie Walker are members of the Special Government Employee program.

Safety plays an important role in daily operations at Y-12 and employees’ commitment to creating a safe workplace is evident. As a result of this long-term focus on safety, Y-12 has once again received the Voluntary Protection Program’s (VPP) Star of Excellence Award from the Department of Energy, which is the VPP program’s highest achievement level.

The VPP promotes safety and health excellence through cooperative efforts among labor, management, and government at DOE contractor sites. Star of Excellence Award winners must achieve injury/illness incidence rates and lost workday injury/illness rates of at least 75% below the Bureau of Labor Statistics national average, meet annual DOE VPP goals, and demonstrate strong involvement in the Voluntary Protection Program’s Participants’ Association, VPP mentoring, and outreach.

“It is such an honor to be recognized by DOE Headquarters,” said Gina Fitzmaurice, Y-12 Safety and Industrial Hygiene technical advisor. “Y-12 works hard to achieve performance excellence, especially in the areas of health and safety. This effort is demonstrated by labor and management throughout the year as evident in our full dedication, total commitment, and employee engagement.”

To participate in the VPP, employers must submit an application to OSHA and undergo a rigorous on-site evaluation by a team of safety and health professionals. VPP participants are reevaluated every three to five years to remain in the program. But who is in charge of completing the site evaluations? Enter a group of people known as Special Government Employees. Y-12’s Donnie Walker and Thomas Duncan are two of its members.

Special Government Employees
The VPP Special Government Employee Program was established to allow industry employees to work alongside OSHA, particularly during on site evaluations. Not only does this innovative program benefit OSHA by supplementing its on-site evaluation teams, but it gives the government an opportunity to work together and share views and ideas.

SGEs play an important role in safety and the labor management relationship,” explained Fitzmaurice. “Their commitment to excellence is demonstrated by their willingness to take on the additional role as an SGE. The relationships that SGEs develop with the OSHA team are valuable to the industry as a whole and the role they play is vital in providing advice and recommendations for VPP assessments.”

Becoming a VPP SGE is no easy feat, and having two SGEs on staff gives Y-12 a leg up when it comes to safety knowledge. Only qualified volunteers from VPP sites are eligible to participate in the SGE program and must be approved by OSHA. After submitting an application and completing the required training, these volunteers are sworn in as SGEs and are approved to assist OSHA.

As Atomic Trades and Labor Council Health and Safety Representative, Thomas Duncan recently completed the three-day SGE course and is now ready to serve when requested.

“The experience gained from the three-day course provided me with the opportunity to network with other facilities and share safety best practices,” said Duncan. “The knowledge gained will also help improve our safety programs here at the Y-12 site for both the collective bargaining employees and management.”

Donnie Walker, who has been a member of the VPP SGE program since 2015, also values the information he gains through working with others in the safety industry.

SGEs help OSHA fill the need to evaluate existing VPP companies and others who desire to be a part of OSHA's most coveted safety program,” explained Walker, SGE and chief health and safety officer for the International Guards Union of America. “The role offers an abundance of opportunity, such as the experience evaluating other safety programs, collaboration with safety professionals throughout the United States, and insight into other companies’ best practices.”

Walker also serves as an instructor in the SGE program.

“I feel teaching the SGE class has given me a considerable amount of confidence. As a veteran SGE now, I have learned how important collaboration is in the safety industry and now have contacts and friends in the safety business from coast to coast,” said Walker.

It is through programs like the DOE-VPP and SGE that Y-12 shows its commitment to go beyond mere compliance with DOE safety regulations and consistently strive for performance excellence. Employees are Y-12’s greatest asset and creating a work environment that is protective of employee safety and health, while encouraging employee involvement and management commitment, is of upmost importance.

Y-12’s 2022 DOE VPP Star of Excellence award
Y-12’s 2022 DOE VPP Star of Excellence award

Posted: Wednesday, November 30, 2022 - 11:54am

George Haynes, deputy chief information security officer at Y-12
Meet George Haynes, deputy chief information security officer at Y-12, who plays a key role in the security and strategic defense of our network and systems.

All views and opinions are the employee’s and do not necessarily reflect those of CNS.

While cybersecurity is frequently regarded as the act of protecting a network of information and systems from theft or damage, a key element of its definition and study is acknowledging how people factor into its defense and practice.

Many information theft cases are a result of human error due to negligence or lack of cybersecurity awareness. It’s important to recognize the impact we all have in safekeeping our technology.

As a key expert, leader, and direct support to the site, Y-12’s George Haynes is integral to the strategic development and operations of CNS's Cybersecurity programs.

By ensuring that our interconnected network of information, systems, and people are protected in the digital landscape, Haynes focuses on CNS's daily cybersecurity defense posture in analyzing risk balanced security measures and forming strategies against cyber threats.

What daily task lets you know you are helping achieve the CNS mission?
My daily tasks of understanding threats, improving cybersecurity architecture, accomplishing cybersecurity workforce plans, increasing effectiveness of enterprise risk management, and stimulating collaboration across organizations are key to achieving optimal protection and defense.

Are you doing what you envisioned as a young adult? If so, describe how you got here.
My professional background is in global military operations in the air, space, and cyber domains at the tactical, operational, and strategic levels. From working across military services, government agencies, and international partnerships, the goal is the same as Pantex and Y-12: effective mission accomplishment. As a young adult, I wanted to be an architect, but I took a turn toward technology; once I started that path, I soon found my passion.

What CNS principle drives you to be successful?
For me, it’s set high standards. Well executed standards apply to how we accomplish work, account for responsibilities, and achieve as a team by delivering value to the staff and organization to reach mission outcomes.

What work advice would you offer someone who is starting work at Y-12?
First, fully understand your role, your responsibilities, and the outcome expected from your efforts. Next, communicate often with your manager and team on status, barriers, and ability to deliver. Finally, never leave a meeting or team discussion with questions on what is expected and what responsibilities you are assigned.

What one thing would your coworkers be surprised to know about you?
I used to do gymnastics in college as a hobby.

Posted: Thursday, November 10, 2022 - 7:53am

Veterans deliver on the mission across CNS

With more than 2,260 veterans employed across both sites, CNS understands and values the skills that previous military experience brings. The CNS mission is often a logical fit for veterans as working at Pantex or Y-12 allows them to continue their service to the nation.

“Veterans are able to transition into the workforce at CNS easily,” explained Emily Graber, CNS director of Human Resources’ Engagement, Inclusion, and Performance department. “They often are hired for not only their technical skills, but also their leadership, teamwork, decision making, problem solving, and loyalty.”

CNS works hard to actively recruit veterans for open positions through a variety of avenues such as in-person and virtual job fairs at military transition offices and bases, as well as tools such as LinkedIn and Indeed. Programs including Veterans to Engineers and the Department of Defense (DoD) SkillBridge internship act as a path to more easily bring in veterans who have retired or are near the end of their military service careers.

CNS has been partnering with the DoD SkillBridge program for almost three 3 years, and has hosted more than 56 veterans during that time. The program allows transitioning service members to spend up to their last six 6 months of service on active duty with CNS. It also gives CNS an opportunity to determine if the participating veterans are a good fit for the organization and allows for an easier transition into a full-time position if the placement is available.

“We are honored to partner with the DoD SkillBridge program to offer an opportunity for transitioning service members to intern with us here at CNS,” said Graber. “Our program has a great reputation for bringing on talented veterans who are able to come in and immediately make a positive impact at CNS based on their experience and prior service to the nation.”

To date, CNS has hired 33 SkillBridge interns into full-time positions, which showcases the value that management sees in the program.

“The Skillbridge program was a huge benefit to my family and to me,” said former SkillBridge intern and current Y-12 communications specialist Matt Pippin. “I was able to intern here at Y-12 and learn how to apply the skills I gained in the Army to the CNS mission. Y-12, in many ways, is similar to working on a military installation so it made the transition from Army life to civilian fairly smooth. Making the transition from military life to civilian is quite difficult so I was happy to see how CNS supports service members and veterans trying to build the next stage of their life.”

CNS also provides support for veterans after they are hired. The Serving our Service Members Affinity Groups at both sites support veteran employees and families during military service, assists with hiring from the veteran community, and provides volunteer and social opportunities with larger East Tennessee and Texas Panhandle veteran groups.

In fiscal year (FY) 2022, CNS successfully hired 288 veterans, which was an increase from the 113 veterans hired in FY 2021. Due to this accomplishment, CNS was recently awarded a gold medallion by the HIRE Vets Medallion Program, which recognizes employers for their efforts to recruit, employ, and retain our nation’s veterans. The Honoring Investments in Recruiting and Employing American Military Veterans (HIRE Vets) Act of 2017 was signed into law in May 2017. The Department of Labor’s Veterans’ Employment and Training Service (VETS) administers the HIRE Vets Medallion Program. This is the third year in a row that CNS has received the gold medallion award for its work in veteran recruiting and retention.

An additional recognition at Y-12 in FY 2022 came when Site Manager Gene Sievers received a Patriot Award from the DoD’s Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve program. The award, while given to single person, reflects employer efforts to support citizen warriors through a wide-range of measures including flexible schedules, time off before and after deployment, caring for families, and granting leaves of absence. More than 100 active guard members and reservists work at Y-12.

It is not the recognition that keeps CNS recruiters actively searching for veterans to fill positions time and time again. With real-life work experience, accountability for their actions, strong work ethic, and good performance under pressure, veterans have a plethora of skills that are invaluable to employers. CNS is proud to employ many of our country’s heroes as we all work side-by-side toward our collective mission.