Surveys Help the NRC Assess Itself

Recently, the NRC’s Inspector General released the preliminary findings of an internal “safety culture and climate” survey that canvassed employee opinions on a wide range of workplace issues. This survey is conducted every three years by an independent consulting firm.

While the survey answers are still being analyzed, the results are generally positive—especially in the categories of workload and support, and training opportunities. The quality of internal communications also scored well, although it seems we have more work to do explaining why decisions were made.

We have also identified areas where the agency slipped compared to recent years, and will require special attention. These include: the ability to raise different professional opinions or challenge the prevailing view; recognizing and respecting the value of human differences; and developing people to their full potential. I do want to emphasize that while we are identifying areas for improvement, the overall results for the NRC are above industry and national norms.

These findings generally confirmed what we have learned so from the government-wide Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey—conducted earlier this year. According to the preliminary results, the NRC ranks first among federal agencies in both Leadership & Knowledge Management and Talent Management; second in Job Satisfaction; and third in Results-Oriented Performance Culture. Like the internal safety culture survey, there are also areas we are identifying for focused improvement.

The details of both surveys will continue to emerge during the next several months. The agency’s senior managers will be assessing the information in a coordinated manner to identify specific focus areas. Agency-wide action planning has already begun, and office and regional level action planning will begin at several “Results to Action” workshops in mid-January.

The bottom line for me and the other managers at the NRC—no matter how well the agency does on surveys—is to keep examining how to improve as leaders in this agency and, ultimately, as government civil servants entrusted with a serious and important role in the safety and security of this nation.

Bill Borchardt
Executive Director for Operations

“Government-to-Government” — Recognizing Tribal Interests

November is Native American Heritage Month, so it seems a suitable time to highlight the NRC’s current efforts to develop a Tribal Policy Statement and improve our interactions with Native Americans.

Throughout the regulatory process, the NRC works in cooperation with other governmental entities, including federal, state and local governments – and tribes. This cooperation helps to ensure effective communication and to promote greater awareness of the policies, activities and concerns of all parties involved.

Native American tribes have a unique relationship with the NRC and the federal government. There are 566 federally recognized tribes that are “sovereign”— that is, they have the legal authority to govern themselves. As a result, when the NRC meets or consults with tribal representatives, it does so on a “government-to-government” basis, much as it does with the leaders of foreign countries.

The NRC recently published a draft Tribal Protocol Manual to provide more clarity, and to obtain feedback, on how the agency conducts its meetings with tribes. The manual, originally developed as an internal document to provide guidance to NRC staff participating in tribal consultations and interactions, has been published to explain how the NRC conducts these consultations. It will help to create more open and productive working relationships between the NRC and tribal governments. It will also serve as a starting point for the staff to develop a policy statement on tribal consultations.

The manual contains information NRC staff collected from many sources, including Native Americans, NRC staff with experience in interacting with tribes, and other federal agencies with established tribal outreach programs. It will help NRC staff to work more effectively with Native American tribes by providing both sides with a clear roadmap to the regulatory process and the opportunities for interactions within it.

Anyone interested in NRC’s interactions with tribes is invited to comment on the draft and to provide input to the policy statement.

For more information, see the NRC website.

Michelle Ryan
Project Manager
Intergovernmental Liaison Branch