U.S. NRC Blog

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Potential Government Shutdown: The Path Forward for the NRC — UPDATED

Mark Satorius
Executive Director for Operations
 

Update: This week’s Waste Confidence meetings will be held as scheduled. We’ll keep you updated on the status of meetings scheduled for next week.

The NRC can’t predict the likelihood of a government shutdown next week, but we are prepared for all contingencies in case of a lapse of appropriations for federal agencies effective on Tuesday.

If there is a lapse, many agencies will shut down operations and furlough employees except for those necessary to support possible emergencies. At the NRC, however, we have some “carryover” funding, which is essentially previous year’s funding that was not expended. By being careful with that money, the NRC should be able to remain open for at least one additional week of largely normal operations.

At this time, then, the NRC is not issuing employee furlough notifications. Should the lapse of appropriations last longer than our “carryover” funding allows, the NRC has a plan reviewed by the Office of Management and Budget for identifying staff members who will remain on the job to perform the excepted NRC functions for emergencies.

The planned staffing for NRC “excepted functions” necessary to support emergency operations during a lapse of appropriations is approximately 300 of the agency’s 3,900 employees. Of that number, roughly half are resident inspectors assigned to reactor and fuel facilities. The rest of the “excepted” personnel include staff necessary to initially respond to emergency situations at NRC licensed facilities. The Chairman, the NRC Commissioners and Inspector General are in addition to this number and are exempted from furloughs because they are Presidential appointees.

We will notify licensees and external stakeholders through a Regulatory Issue Summary if there is a lapse of appropriations on Oct. 1, and then again if the lapse exceeds our carryover funding.

OMB and OPM websites have more information about the situation government-wide.

The NRC will to continue to uphold our important mission of protecting public health and safety. We will also make every effort to reduce uncertainty and disruption for our valuable staff members, to the extent we can.

19 responses to “Potential Government Shutdown: The Path Forward for the NRC — UPDATED

  1. Sanna February 26, 2014 at 12:19 am

    It seems the NRC funding should be a simple pass-through as long as the licensee funds are being collected. If they aren’t then shut down, I guess. If they are, do your work. Keep posting.

  2. derya ates October 2, 2013 at 10:15 am

    I hope this problem can be solved ASAP.

  3. Brett Martin October 1, 2013 at 10:14 pm

    The NRC is currently overseeing new construction of AP1000’s in SC and GA. If the NRC isnt available will the projects cease progression? If so there will be thousands of middle class citizens out of work. Whos creating jobs now?……….thanks guys

    • Moderator October 2, 2013 at 8:07 am

      As the blog post says, the NRC is currently using “carryover” funds and is operating nearly normally at this time.

      • Brett Martin October 2, 2013 at 12:32 pm

        And what happens when that 1 week of carryover funds run out? Are you going to staff the new construction gigs, or just live reactors

      • Moderator October 3, 2013 at 9:53 am

        If the shutdown lasts longs than the NRC’s carryover funds can provide, construction inspectors will remain on the job along with resident inspectors at operating plants.

      • tjmackism October 3, 2013 at 10:15 am

        This is what I don’t understand. NRC is 90% funded by “user fees”. By my cipherin’, that means that you should be able to operate at 90% capacity. Other federal agencies funded by “user fees” are still operating at normal capacity. The Federal Highway Adminstration, which is funded by taxes on fuel, is operating normally. The FDA receives its funding from “fees” paid by pharmaceutical firms, and it is functioning. Where Obama plays golf, the course at Andrews AFB, is open for business at normal capacity, because it is funded by “user fees” (although somehow I don’t think Obama pays them). So how is it that these other fee-based agencies are functioning, but NRC can’t function? Something seems really, really fishy here.

  4. usurbrain October 1, 2013 at 7:39 pm

    Does this mean the Site Inspectors will go home?

    • Moderator October 2, 2013 at 8:08 am

      No. As the blog post says: The planned staffing for NRC “excepted functions” necessary to support emergency operations during a lapse of appropriations is approximately 300 of the agency’s 3,900 employees. Of that number, roughly half are resident inspectors assigned to
      reactor and fuel facilities.

      However, at this time, the NRC is using “carryover” funds and is operating nearly normally.

  5. Dan Williamson October 1, 2013 at 9:57 am

    Given that 90% of the NRCs operating budget is funded by fees collected from licensees, why should this situation cause any significant disruption?

    • Moderator October 1, 2013 at 10:17 am

      The NRC receives its appropriation from Congress. The fees collected from licensees go to the U.S. Treasury and reimburse most of the cost of operating the NRC.

      • Anonymous October 1, 2013 at 10:33 am

        Then those funds should still be there, yes? There are many things (Obamacare, for one) that receive their funding through other laws. Last I checked, Obamacare was supposedly running today (if you consider crashed websites running). It seems the NRC funding should be a simple pass-through as long as the licensee funds are being collected. If they aren’t then shut down, I guess. If they are, do your work. I know if I don’t do my work while being paid I get fired. Guess that’s the difference between government and the real world.

      • Anonymous October 2, 2013 at 3:08 pm

        As 90% of NRC’s income is from fees, at most, NRC should reduce its activities by 10%. So Treasury holds our fees and sends funds to NRC. But because Congress did not do its job, nobody at Treasury can send funds to NRC? This is just ridiculous.

  6. tjmackism September 30, 2013 at 6:42 pm

    I thought you all were 90% funded by fees paid by licensees. Are those payments going to be suspended? If not, and you are still taking in the fee monies, then the services should be provided. If they aren’t, then its a scam, taking in money without rendering the services that were supposedly paid for by those fees.

    • Moderator October 1, 2013 at 4:58 pm

      The NRC will not suspend fees collections during the shutdown due to a lapse in appropriations. NRC fee collection amounts are governed by the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1990 (OBRA-90), as amended, which requires NRC to collect approximately 90 percent of its budget in the year appropriated, not including amounts appropriated for Waste Incidental to Reprocessing and Generic Homeland Security. NRC collects hourly fees for regulatory services provided and an annual fee from licensees to recover the remainder of approximately 90 percent of its budget. If the NRC shuts down, the hourly fees will be reduced and only billed for the minimal services provided during the shutdown period. Annual fees will be continue to be collected at the present rates described in the NRC FY 2013 Fee Rule and adjustments will be made at the end of the year in the FY 2014 Fee Rule to ensure the proper collections are achieved. Consistent with our existing procedures, any excess fees collected in FY 2014 for a class of licensees will be credited to reduce their fees in FY 2015.

      Jim Dyer
      NRC CFO

      • tjmackism October 1, 2013 at 9:13 pm

        I don’t know, I’m just a country boy, but there is something fishy about continuing to collect annual fees for an agency that is in an essentially shutdown status. Sounds a lot like paying something for nothing. Like I said, there is just something non-commonsensical about that.

  7. Michael Green September 30, 2013 at 3:03 pm

    What will happen to the planned Waste Confidence public meetings scheduled outside NRC Headquarters?

  8. CaptD September 27, 2013 at 6:22 pm

    It is a real shame that DC Politics puts everyone in Jeopardy:

    On December 21, 2012, the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) blog posted a letter from Chairman Macfarlane titled, “A Visit to Japan: Reflections from the Chairman.”
    She said, “Regulators may need to be “buffered” from political winds, but they need to be fully subjected to the pressure of scientific and engineering truth and cannot be allowed to make decisions or order actions that are “independent” of facts.”

    Too bad there is not a huge penalty for all elected Congressional Leaders for each day the US Government is threatened with a shutdown by their inaction!

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