NRC Public Meetings – Deciphering the Categories

A public meeting about the San Onofre nuclear power plant draws a large crowd.
A public meeting about the San Onofre nuclear power plant draws a large crowd.
Lance Rakovan
Senior Communications Specialist

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.

Happy New Year and Some NRC Blog Updates

Eliot Brenner
Public Affairs Director

newyearMH900190865Two years ago, at the end of this month, the NRC made its first foray into social media with this blog. We didn’t know what to expect, but we knew we needed a new way to provide information to the public about – and explanations of – the important, but frequently complex and technical activities of the agency.

We were pleased with the initial interest in the blog, which sky-rocketed during the March 2011 events in Japan, and which spiked again during the August 2011 earthquake in Virginia and this fall’s Hurricane Sandy. Some stats for 2012: we put up 138 posts and approved 893 comments, and got some 126,000 views. And we have 700+ subscribers.

Also during those 12 months, the NRC sent out 540 tweets (to 2,996 followers), posted 47 videos on YouTube (which got 17,170 views) and posted 1,100 photos on Flickr, with 93,000 views. We are continuing to look at new ways to make our social media program interesting and relevant to you, and we may have some news in that regard later in the year. So stay tuned.

We are making a few small changes to the blog for 2013. We’ll be using more specific tags to make it easier to find our content. We’re also moving the bylines up to the top, so you’ll know right away who has authored the post. And when we can, we’ll be adding more links and more interactive content.

We hope to continue to see the lively conversations in the comments to our posts. We approve and post comments several times a day to reduce delaying the conversation. In only a few instances, we have not approved comments because they didn’t meet our blog comment guidelines. If the comment is determined to be an allegation, for example, it will not be posted (but you will be contacted by our allegations team.) If your comment is a personal attack, we also cannot post it. Some comments lately have drifted into this category, so we ask that you be respectful to other commenters and their points of view so that we can approve your comments.

Also remember that comments need to be related to the post under which they are submitted. If they’re not, we’ll move them to the Open Forum section. We encourage you to post there when there’s something you want to talk about, but about which there is no recent post.

Which brings me to my last point. We would love to know what you’d like us to cover for the new year. What topics are of interest to you? What do you want to know more about – or perhaps get a plain language explanation of? Please let us know in the comment section below and we’ll try to tailor future content to your needs.

Happy New Year to you, and thank you for reading the NRC’s blog.

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