A Day in the Life of the NRC Public Document Room

In the NRC’s Public Document Room (PDR), located in the agency’s headquarters complex in Rockville, Md., no two days are alike. From answering questions submitted by the public and NRC staff, to assisting visitors with research projects, to locating documents that are 30 years old (or more), to making sure that meeting notices are posted for public view, life is never boring.

The public can call, email, or walk in to use the PDR’s resources. Most inquiries for documents are for those predating the year 2000. Using the Legacy Library in ADAMS, the agency’s document repository, we help users find the records for over 2 million , documents stored on microfiche from both the NRC and its predecessor, the Atomic Energy Commission. Once found, an arrangement with our fee-based contractor can have the documents reproduced either on paper or electronically.

For on-site visitors, our microfiche reader/printers can be used to print out any document.

Some users need assistance with finding newer documents. We can help navigate them through the ADAMS Public Library for these. An advantage to the newer documents is that they are all available in PDF format, for free, and can be viewed, downloaded or printed at a user’s convenience.

On occasion, we help on-site visitors with extensive research projects. One group has come back to the PDR, once a month, for over a year, browsing through microfiche documents and capturing information necessary for their work.

In addition to helping members of the public find NRC information, we currently maintain the system that generates meeting notices for the agency’s Public Meeting Schedule. Meeting notices are usually made available at least 10 days before the actual meeting; some notices are posted months in advance.

Twice a year, we host meetings for the ADAMS User Group, made up of NRC staff who regularly use the system. The discussions almost always include ways the NRC can improve ADAMS accessibility and ease of use.

We also interact with conference attendees and answer questions about ADAMS at the NRC’s annual Regulatory Information Conference .

Some days are busier than others, but no two are alike. And we like it that way!

Adam Glazer
Technical Librarian

Harnessing Technology to Make the NRC More Effective and Efficient

There was a time when federal employees had better computer equipment in their offices than what they could purchase for themselves at a local consumer electronics store. While I can’t pinpoint what year that reality switched, it is now a firm truth that our staff can buy advanced computers, amazing smart phones and tablet computers for their own use while government agencies like the NRC have generally lagged behind in what types of technology is being provided.

This is a problem. Our staff is seeking different, better ways to work. They want to collaborate with their peers and improve communications. Most importantly, our staff wants to more effectively and efficiently support the mission of the NRC wherever they are working.

So, how do we as technology leaders respond? For the NRC, we’re taking several actions, all in support of a longer term vision. Two of the more immediate actions are a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) initiative and piloting the use of tablet PCs.

First, what is BYOD? For the NRC, it is a voluntary program that allows employees to use certain types of personal smart phones or tablet PCs officially for NRC work, primarily by allowing them to connect to the agency’s email system. There are some trade offs for staff who participate. One is that we require the device to be properly encrypted, just in case it is lost or stolen. This helps us make sure we’re protecting sensitive information. We also ensure that employees understand and agree to some new rules of behavior.

Of note, before we went “live” with this initiative we worked with our local chapter of the National Treasury Employees Union to reach an agreement on how the program would work. We’ve already learned a great deal so far, through our own trial and error, talking with other Federal agencies and private sector companies, and participating in interagency working groups.

If you want to know more about “BYOD” in general, you can read new guidance published by the Federal Chief Information Officers Council and the Office of Management and Budget.

Secondly is our pilot program for agency-issued tablet PCs to some staff in our Region II (Atlanta, Ga.) office. For those who regularly follow NRC, Region II is leading the agency in construction inspection. There are new nuclear power plants now under construction in Georgia and South Carolina, plus one being completed in Tennessee. We want to better understand and test how tablet PCs can best support our construction inspectors. When we evaluate how it is going in several months, I expect very positive results, and can see NRC expanding this capability out to other inspection functions.

I believe that these actions are good first steps for the NRC. Simply put, they will help us better understand how to better support our staff and the mission. We can’t – and won’t – stop there. Today’s (and future) consumer devices provide a wealth of untapped capabilities for federal agencies and their staff.

Our future actions will require us to put “mobility” at the forefront as we modernize our IT systems, design new systems, and deliver new capabilities and information to our staff and the public. I’m very confident that we’re moving in the right direction. I look forward to providing updates over the coming year as to how things are going.

Darren Ash
Chief Information Officer and
Deputy Executive Director for Corporate Management
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