The NRC’s Office of Nuclear Regulatory Research (RES) produces regulatory guides to provide guidance that nuclear utilities can follow to meet NRC rules for the design and operation of their nuclear plants. The NRC staff also use regulatory guides to review applications from the utilities for plant permits and licenses. New guides are developed when needed – and existing ones are regularly reviewed and updated.
The Regulatory Guide Development Branch (part of RES) is very concerned with promoting “knowledge management” within the agency. We have an obligation to preserve key technical information especially as people leave the agency. Therefore, we have taken steps to make sure we capture, preserve, and transfer important technical knowledge.
NRC knowledge management especially is focused on two major ideas. First of all, it is focused on capturing and preserving agency knowledge (technical information) while the information is fresh and available. Second, and equally as important, knowledge management also means ensuring the collected information is transferred to the next generation of NRC staff.
To do this, we encourage NRC staff members to write their knowledge into regulatory guides as they identify technical and regulatory issues. This helps keep the knowledge in a permanent and long-lasting record. This also helps prevent technical information from becoming difficult to find over time. This is a very important responsibility, especially because of staff retirements or reassignments.
In addition, the NRC staff teams up its junior staff with senior staff to perform the reviews and updates of the regulatory guides. This approach effectively helps pass on regulatory information to the junior staff. It also ensures that this important guidance continues to be available to the NRC staff, its stakeholders, and the public.
Critical knowledge can’t be lost if the NRC is to continue to meet its important mission. We make sure it isn’t.