Senior Communications Specialist
A public meeting about the San Onofre nuclear power plant draws a large crowd.
One of my jobs at the NRC is managing the agency’s Meeting Facilitation and Advisor Program. This means, I train employees to facilitate public meetings and recommend ways to make public meetings as meaningful as possible. One of the challenges I face is explaining – both to those inside and outside the agency – what the three meeting categories mean. The answer? Simply this: the category of the meeting is a reflection of the purpose of the meeting.Category 1 meetings, for example, are between the NRC and one other party – typically a licensee of the NRC, a vendor, or an applicant or potential applicant for a license. The NRC has these types of meetings in a public forum to provide transparency even though the purpose is to have a one-on-one discussion. The public can observe the meeting and has the opportunity to ask questions of the NRC after the business portion of the meeting, but doesn’t participate in the discussion itself.
Category 2 meetings are between the NRC and a number of individuals representing groups such as licensees, vendors, other federal agencies, or non-governmental organizations. Like Category 1 meetings, the NRC holds these meetings in a public forum. The purpose of the meeting is for the NRC to conduct a discussion with the designated group. The public can observe the meeting and ask questions of the NRC after the business portion of the meeting, but again, doesn’t participate in the discussion itself.
A common type of Category 2 meeting is a roundtable meeting where the NRC invites representatives of the broad spectrum of interests affected by an issue to engage in discussion with each other and the NRC, with the public in an observing role.
Category 3 meetings are fully engaged discussions between the NRC and the public (as well as stakeholders that might include other government agencies, the industry and others). Public participation is actively sought at this type of meeting, which has the widest participation opportunities and is specifically tailored for the public to comment or ask questions.
Category 3 meetings are also known as Town Hall meetings. We might hold such a meeting to inform the public about a particular issue, respond to questions or receive comments from attendees. These meetings might be preceded by other information opportunities, such as a poster session or open house.
We do our best to conduct public meetings that not only accomplish a particular purpose, but also allow the public to observe and participate. The meeting category just gives an indication of what kind of meeting you can expect.
Additional Information on our public meeting policies can be found on our web site.