Erhart’s farewell at NNSA Production Office

erhartsafetySteve Erhart, the National Nuclear Security Administration’s first manager of a special Production Office set up in 2012 to oversee the combined Y-12 and Pantex management contract, left that post earlier this month to set up another new office (Office of Policy) for NNSA.

Before leaving, Erhart wrote a final “Steve Stuff,” his periodic communications channel to employees. The message was poignant and inspirational, explanatory and a little self-effacing at times, and he offered a big thank you to those who worked for him. He even made reference to a James Taylor song.

Here’s Erhart’s message:

Friends,

OK kids, this is my last Steve Stuff.  Please stop jumping up and down and high fiving each other for just a few minutes so you can focus on what I need to say…  I have been privileged and spoiled over the years working with you.  I’m sure I haven’t told you enough how much I appreciate you but…you are great!.  You are great at what you do and you do what your country needs you to do.  You are great for hanging in there when things get tough.  You are great Americans.  You are great for believing in our mission and choosing civil SERVICE over other more lucrative undertakings.  You are great people who care about and take care of each other and those less fortunate than yourselves.

 NPO is fortunate to have an exceptional, capable leader in Geoff Beausoleil to continue and improve upon what we started together here a few years ago.  Geoff is very smart, highly motivated and strongly believes and excels in the support and development of his people.  I can assure you that you are in good hands.  Geoff and I are teammates and friends and I will give him whatever support that I can whenever he asks.  I will also fully respect and honor his authority as the NPO Manager by not interfering.  I will no longer represent NPO and always defer and refer any input, questions, etc. I may receive from anyone back to Geoff and his very capable management team.  I fully expect the office to evolve and change and continuously improve and I look forward to watching and cheering for all that you accomplish.

 We are all very fortunate to work for an outstanding, experienced and highly talented NNSA and DOE leadership team. We are all in good hands. The four top positions in DOE/NNSA are occupied by some of the most impressive folks you could ever hope for at the helm.  I have heard all four speak passionately about their commitment to ensure the viability of this enterprise well into the future.  All four place great emphasis on taking care of and developing our workforce.  As you have seen, our leadership is solidly behind bringing in the best and the brightest new workers to take our places and operate and manage this enterprise well into the future.  This makes me extremely hopeful.  Sure there are challenges but there always are and always will be.  Nothing truly worth doing is ever easy. 

I have learned and grown from my experience as your leader.  I think I got a few things right and of course made plenty of mistakes but I want you to know that I always tried to give and do my very best and I always tried to keep your best interests in mind.  The last few years were not always easy but I truly believe that it is in the trials that we are made stronger and wiser and for that I am extremely thankful.  The most important thing I have learned is best summarized in a lyric from that old wise folksinger James Taylor: 

“The secret of life in enjoying the passage of time; any fool can do it, there ain’t nothing to it…”.

Remember life is precious and short.  Don’t waste it on ruminating and worrying.  What is happening right now, in this moment, is exactly as it is supposed to be and is all you have… so savor it.  Be grateful, compassionate, accepting and forgiving so that you may find peace and joy right where you are. 

Over and out,

 Steve

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About Frank Munger

Senior Writer Frank Munger covers the Dept. of Energy's Oak Ridge facilities and many related topics — nuclear weapons, nuclear waste and other things nuclear, environmental cleanup and science of all sorts. Atomic City Underground is, first and foremost, a news blog, but there's room for analysis, opinion and random thoughts that have no place else to go.