The NRC and the 2013 Shutdown – Next Steps

Mark Satorius
Executive Director for Operations

As you may know, the NRC has been operating largely normally this week using “carryover” funds in the absence of an appropriation. Based on our current projections, however, we do not believe the agency can continue to operate beyond the middle of next week.

budgetinfographicIn the absence of action by Congress and the President, we expect to begin notifying employees whether they are excepted (non-furloughed) or non-excepted (furloughed). Most of the excepted employees are the resident inspectors and the Headquarters Operations Officers. Individuals assigned as excepted employees will perform the excepted functions listed in Management Directive and Handbook 4.5 if the agency shuts down.

Meetings scheduled for next week are in the process of being cancelled or postponed. We apologize for the inconvenience we know this is causing. For the most up-to-date details, please see our Public Meetings page.

It is possible that circumstances will require additional NRC employees to perform excepted functions, for example, in an emergency event requiring NRC response. If that situation arises, additional NRC employees who are required to perform excepted functions will be contacted, designated as excepted and removed from furlough status.

It is illegal for employees who are furloughed to perform agency work. So once the NRC begins furloughs, most employees will not be coming to the office, taking work phone calls, or reading or responding to email messages. The Office of Public Affairs and the Office of Congressional Affairs will have skeleton staffs on hand to respond as appropriate to inquiries. A limited Allegations staff will also be on hand to evaluate allegations and address those with immediate safety or security ramifications. As Presidential appointees, Chairman Macfarlane and the four Commissioners will not be furloughed and will continue to perform their responsibilities.

The NRC is also reviewing its contractors to determine which ones will receive “stop work orders” during a furlough.

While the NRC website will remain up, it may not be updated once a furlough has started. We will use the blog to provide up-to-date information about NRC actions.

We sincerely regret these actions are necessary and are eager to resume our important mission as soon as possible.

Author: Moderator

Public Affairs Officer for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission

19 thoughts on “The NRC and the 2013 Shutdown – Next Steps”

  1. That is what I have been wondering all along. Why are fees still being collected to fund an agency that is essentially (to hear it told) in shutdown status? The question comes down to this: why should someone pay for services they are not getting? That sounds an awful lot like some kind of scam or shakedown. I would really like a simple straight answer to that question, as well as an opinion from someone in the NRC: is it the right thing to do, from a logical, fairness point of view? I don’t want any legalese (i.e., “the law says, blah blah blah…”) or appeal to rules and regulations or other bureaucratic mumbo jumbo. All I want to know is, is it the right and just thing to do, to take peoples’ money and provide nothing in return? Maybe asking for a simple, straight, non-legalese, non-bureaucratic answer is asking a bit much from a government agency, I know, but I thought it was worth a try.

  2. So do the fees from the industry stop coming in? If not then who is in control of said funds and if the funds are held in account interest that is accrued from sitting goes to whom? I would think that 90% of a budget is an amount that could be sustainable for any business, organization,committee,etc… to operate … and the 10% of taxes shouldn’t be paid seeing that there is nothing operational to be paid for. would be interesting to see if any fines have been issued since the shutdown….and fees or any permits issued

  3. Well, if that is the way it is being done, collecting fees from licensees and depositing them in a general treasury account to go wherever they might depending on the whims of politicians and bureaucrats, then it smells even fishier than it did before. In the criminal world, it might be called a front, or money laundering, or a bait-and-switch. But, I guess if the government does it, it isn’t illegal. Where have we heard that before?

  4. The NRC is not funded by the fees it collects. Although the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1990, as amended (42 U.S.C. § 2214), directs the NRC to collect fees in an amount approximately equal to 90 percent of the amount appropriated by Congress, it does not confer upon the NRC the authority to retain and expend these funds. Fees collected by the NRC must be deposited in the U.S. Treasury in accordance with the Miscellaneous Receipts Statute (31 U.S.C. § 3302(b)). As a result of this statutory scheme, the NRC is not permitted to remain fully operational after appropriations have been exhausted. Other agencies operate under different statutory provisions.

    NRC Office of General Counsel

  5. The NRC’s authority to assess and collect fees is not derived from its appropriations acts. The authority comes from the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1990, as amended, 42 U.S.C § 2214. With that said, the fees assessed are based on the amount appropriated by Congress each fiscal year, which is why these fees are adjusted annually through notice and comment
    rulemaking. The NRC published its fee schedules for Fiscal Year 2013 on July 1, 2013 (78 Fed. Reg. 39462) and, consistent with our normal practice, will not be issuing for public comment a proposed fee schedule for Fiscal Year 2014 until the early months of calendar year 2014. In the meantime, applicants and licensees will continue to pay fees based on the Fiscal Year 2013 schedule in accordance with the provisions of 10 C.F.R. §§ 170.12, 171.13 and 171.19. The payment of these fees is not dependent on whether the NRC has received appropriations from Congress for Fiscal Year 2014.

    NRC Office of General Counsel

  6. So this leaves me with several questions. If an nuclear event occurs while NRC is on Furlough does it really exist? Does this mean the reactors will be shut down because they have no regulatory body?

    The good news… and I would ask the moderator to share this with other NRC employees… Time to read the FOIA documents concerning Fukushima and Plumegate. Watch Hatrick Penry videos on youtube and understand you are part of the machine that is broken.

  7. Seeing how this “shut down” is being played out thus far leaves me wondering if the US GOV shut down is to be used as plausible deniability for some kind of false flag event. Every bit of it, including its resolution, seems like absolute idiocracy – unless that’s what was planned.

  8. Why does NRC wait until implementing the shutdown day before notifying its licensees that routine business won’t occur until the budget restraint is resolved. It seems like for appropriate planning to occur, that NRC should give a more timely notification.

  9. Well, as someone a lot smarter than anyone here once said, if that is what the law says, then the law is an ass. From what I’ve heard, furloughed employees can’t even access e-mail. How assish is that?

  10. Are the fees that will be collected in the current fiscal year established only after the NRC has been granted its appropriation for that same fiscal year, or are the fees collected in any given fiscal year based on what was appropriated in the previous fiscal year? Or is there an option C? Related to the above questions, if the NRC has not been granted the legal authority to spend federal dollars through the appropriations process, does it still have the authority to continue to assess and collect fees?

  11. Like I have said in other posts, something smells really, really fishy here. Other fee-based federal agencies, the FDA, the Federal Highway Adminstration, Obama’s golf course at Andrews AFB, are all open for business in a normal way. NRC is 90% funded by licensee fees. Why can’t it operate at 90% of normal capacity, then?

    And no, I don’t buy this “Congress appropriates the funds” argument. Even if those payments go to the Treasury, the law says NRC is funded by those fees. There should be no question about the law. If those fees are being collected and not being used as the law stipulates, someone is in violation of federal law. You can’t just collect money and sit on it, or use it for something else. That would be misuse of public funds. If an ordinary person did that, they’d go to jail. But, we’re talking about the excepted class here, mnot ordinary folks, I guess. So much for “equal protection under the law”.

  12. Exactly, just like Obama care has to be “funded” when they been telling me that it is a cost savings. Sheesh.

  13. Funny— “it is illegal” for furloughed employees to work. Sheesh. No wonder this country is bankrupt

  14. I and others were under the impression that the NRC was 90% funded by the nuclear industry in their paying for license, license renewal, expenses for inspections, fines, etc.; I guess that is not the case.

    Would y’all please consider posting the NRC’s funding source breakdown by percentages?

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