The White House has announced that it will nominate Daniel Poneman, a lawyer and former National Security Council official, as Deputy Secretary of Energy. Poneman is the only nonscientist among the Obama Administration's choices to lead DOE. He will join a Nobel Prize winner (Steven Chu) and two former university provosts (Kristina Johnson and Steven Koonin).
Unlike them, Poneman has been a fixture in Washington and brings years of experience working on nuclear and defense issues. Those issues still dominate DOE's agenda. Three-quarters of its budget goes toward managing the nation's nuclear stockpile, cleaning up former nuclear sites, and preventing the further spread of nuclear weapons.
According to Joseph Cirincione, an expert on nuclear proliferation who now heads the Ploughshares Fund, Poneman is a "solid, sober, moderate, nice guy" who doesn't push his own personal views. "He's not someone who will bring transformational change" to the nuclear weapons laboratories, Cirincione says. "He's the guy who will find a compromise."