By Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management
Earlier this year, the Greater Knoxville Business Journal compiled a list of East Tennesseeâ€™s top rising business and community leaders under the age of 40. The 2014 listing featured Heather Cloar, a contracting officer with the Energy Department in Oak Ridge.
Specifically, Heather, an Energy Department employee since 2002, is the federal official responsible for administering the $2.2 billion environmental cleanup contract with URS-CH2M Oak Ridge LLC, or UCOR. She is responsible for reviewing and approving all contract actions and guaranteeing that the contract remains aligned with EMâ€™s priorities. She also certifies that the contractorâ€™s work is performed in a cost-efficient manner to ensure the best value for American taxpayers. As a testament to her watchful oversight and frequent interaction with contractor leadership, UCOR completed the departmentâ€™s largest-ever demolition project one year ahead of schedule and approximately $300 million under the current budget.
â€œHeather is making sure we are getting the best deal for the taxpayers under the contract and making sure the contract stays on schedule,â€ said Karen Shears, chief of the special acquisitions branch for DOEâ€™s procurement and contracts division. â€œSheâ€™s got excellent judgment and great leadership skills, which is something you need because you interact with so many stakeholders.â€
The contracting officer position is crucial for the Energy Departmentâ€™s EM program since it relies heavily on a robust contractor workforce to accomplish its mission. Realizing the importance and impact of her role, Heather visits the cleanup site regularly to interact with contractor teams and view ongoing progress.
â€œI go out to the site at least once a week to meet with the team out there and they show me their progress,â€ she says. â€œSeeing that site being cleaned up is really rewarding. This is a project where Iâ€™m actually seeing results. That contaminated site is being cleaned up and buildings are coming down.â€
Her work ethic and accomplishments have been a constant for the Energy Department in Oak Ridge. In 2011, she served on the Source Evaluation Board that selected UCOR, a company that has proven to be an excellent partner in the cleanup process through innovative ideas that are accelerating schedules and completing projects under budget. The selection team was recognized and awarded by the Energy Secretary for their urgency and diligence throughout the selection process.
Following the contract award, Heather worked tirelessly to assist with the transition from the previous contractor, which occurred successfully in only 90 days. Next, she served on a team that helped reconcile the contract in only 10 monthsâ€”a record for a contract of that size.
However, beyond all of the project milestones, oversight, and accolades, one of Heatherâ€™s most admired attributes is her relationship and concern for coworkers. When a colleague was diagnosed with cancer in the September, she took the initiative by organizing a team and recruiting employees to participate in the Buddy’s Race Against Cancer. Through her efforts, the team grew to 190 participants and won â€œlargest teamâ€â€”showing overwhelming love and support to a friend and raising funds for at-need cancer patients.
Through her accomplishments, Heather remains thankful to her agency and supervisor for the opportunities to succeed and work on meaningful projects.
â€œI have had a great mentor and boss who has given me the opportunity to flourish and grow, and I feel like theyâ€™ve always trusted in my abilities and given me plenty of challenging assignments to develop my career,â€ she says. â€œTheyâ€™ve put a lot of faith in me to work on things at a young age that Iâ€™m very thankful for.â€
See the original posting on the U.S. Department of Energy Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management website here.