Posted BY: Thomas J. Bruno

During my 40 or so years as a scientist in a government laboratory, I saw middle and senior management types come and go. Many of these were in the Senior Executive Service (SES) ranks—high-level policy-making, change-managing, coalition-building, results-driven leaders with business acumen, ranking just below presidential appointees.

While such folk’s primary role is institutional governance, none were successful unless they had the respect of the technical staff members who are the backbone of the agency. Too many SES managers lacked a record of scientific/engineering achievement and were not taken seriously. They lasted a year or so and moved on because scientists and engineers, being largely self-motivated, do not respect management lacking credibility. Successful SES-level managers bring an impressive record of technical accomplishments reflected in published articles and books, patents, and lectures delivered nationally and overseas, containing a well-articulated vision for the future.

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Sam Brinton, a former Department of Energy SES manager who supervised the Office of Spent Fuel and Waste Disposition (NE-8), has been in the news. Lately, Brinton has been defending himself against multiple charges of grand theft-suitcase, or whatever the exact legal specification might be.

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