Lisa Gordon-Hagerty, Aiken Tech, Mug

National Nuclear Security Administration leader Lisa Gordon-Hagerty speaks to members of the audience following a June 17 announcement at Aiken Technical College.

A former National Nuclear Security Administration executive's transition away from nuclear surety and toward nuclear cleanup is a net gain for the larger U.S. Department of Energy but represents a notable loss for the agency itself, according to its first-in-command, Lisa Gordon-Hagerty.

William "Ike" White, the former NNSA chief of staff and associate principal deputy administrator, is now a senior adviser to Under Secretary for Science Paul Dabbar overseeing the DOE Office of Environmental Management, the federal cleanup wing presiding over the Savannah River Site. 

White fills roughly the void caused by the departure of Anne Marie White, the now-former assistant secretary for environmental management. Anne Marie White's resignation was effective June 14, according to a personnel memo reviewed and previously reported on by the Aiken Standard.

William "Ike" White

William "Ike" White

Anne Marie White is not listed on Environmental Management's leadership website. William "Ike" White is. The two are not related.

In a sit-down interview with the Aiken Standard on June 18, Gordon-Hagerty bid William "Ike" White good luck, coupled with compliments.

"Ike brings us a wealth of … more than three decades of experience in NNSA and the national security space," Gordon-Hagerty said, prompted by a specific question. "So it will be a loss. But, again, it'll be a gain for the department because he has such a breadth and scope of knowledge of the entire department that it's a win-win for everyone."

The NNSA is a semiautonomous slice of the Energy Department in charge of the nation's nuclear outfit and related nonproliferation. Gordon-Hagerty, also the DOE under secretary for nuclear security, said William "Ike" White had been at her side since she "came on board."

Asked if he was equipped for a remediation-focused role – Environmental Management is currently juggling cleanup across 16 sites – Gordon-Hagerty said, "Absolutely."

"He's well-suited for anything that the department has to offer," the NNSA chief said. "Ike is a very special person."

Anne Marie White left her top-tier post little more than one year after being confirmed. William "Ike" White does not need confirmation for his new position. It would be a different circumstance if he was nominated to be the assistant secretary for environmental management.

No reason for Anne Marie White's leave was included in the DOE's May announcement, which was signed by U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry and Deputy Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette.

Cleanup efforts at SRS in part involve handling and processing millions of gallons of radioactive waste currently stored in aging underground tanks.

Anne Marie White toured SRS for the first time last year. She visited the Defense Waste Processing Facility – a massive waste-glassification plant – and the Savannah River National Laboratory, among other facilities.

"The work being done at Savannah River is important work, good work," Anne Marie White wrote in field notes, which were posted to the Energy Department's website.

Colin Demarest is the government and Savannah River Site reporter with the Aiken Standard. Follow him on Twitter: @demarest_colin