Continually Improving Search to Enhance Openness

Patricia Hall
Chief, Information and Data Operations Branch

The NRC prides itself on being an open and transparent organization and we have an extensive web site and a comprehensive online document system to prove it. We also provide a handy search tool that facilitates some 5000 to 8000 search requests on the average work day.

searchBecause we understand that sometimes it can still be a bit difficult to easily find what you’re looking for we have improved our search function effective immediately.

Located at the top of each page at, the search retains many of the features of the prior site search. You can still:

  • Search the whole web site and the public part of the ADAMS document library
  • Refine your search in a variety of ways
  • Sort your results by relevance or date

Now, though, there are several new features. Your search will include thumbnail images (if images are part of the document) and you can search not just the website but also the agency’s social media platforms, including the blog, Facebook, Flickr and YouTube. You can also search the site glossary of nuclear terms.

Search suggestions will appear as you type in the search and there is a link on the results page to save your current search results for later viewing or sharing.

searchBut there’s more! New collection searches will be available for several types of NRC Generic Communications, including Information Notices, Regulatory Issue Summaries, Generic Letters, Bulletins, and Circulars. Searches of the Commission Speeches collection will include links to filter by specific NRC Commissioners and searches of the News Releases collection will include links to filter by NRC region.

This new and improved search aligns more closely with the search experience at, so you can expect a level of user friendliness from our search similar to what they would expect with a Google search. For example, when you enter a search phrase consisting of several words, Google search will bring up Web pages and documents containing instances of the entire phrase before those matching only the individual words. Web pages and documents containing more instances of your exact phrase will be favored in the ranking, as will those where the phrase occurs in the title or near the top of the document.

We hope you will find the improved search tool easier to use and your searches to be more fruitful. If you have additional suggestions for improvements, please put them in the comments below.

Note: The graphic is just an illustration. The Search box looks exactly the same as it did previously.

Author: Moderator

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

23 thoughts on “Continually Improving Search to Enhance Openness”

  1. There is a great deal of variation per day, but the blog gets approximately 10,000 views a month.


  2. How many total views per day are experienced on average on the NRC Blog site?
    If the NRC will not provide data and/or info on an as needed basis, then their claim to be open and transparent is “flawed”.

  3. We’ll do our best to answer your questions. First, to clarify, the Open Forum is not a separate blog site on which anyone can post. It is an individual post on the NRC blog site on which anyone can comment.

    The total number of views to the NRC blog site is 454,939 from the time the Open Forum blog post first went up in August 2012. We estimate there are approximately 500 views on the blog each work day, with peaks at various times as high as 6,000 views.

    The total number of comments on the blog since its creation in January 2011 is 5300. The total number of comments on the Open Forum post itself is 312.

    The WordPress template we use does not calculate average comments per week. It also has other limitations in terms of statistics capture.

    As we said previously, anyone can sign up to be notified of comments on any blog post they wish or can sign up for the blog in its entirety. These are mechanisms that are part of the WordPress platform. Our only control over these mechanisms is to allow or not allow; there is no customization.


  4. Thanks for the prompt response Moderator.
    To give me a better feel for the info you have provided I must ask some follow-up questions.
    You state that there have been 6,125 total views to the Open Forum blog post.
    During that same period of time how many total views have occurred on the NRC Blog site itself?
    I assume that those 6,125 total views on the Open Forum blog site have occurred since its inception August 2012. If my math is correct the Open Forum blog site then has approximately 10 views per day on average. How many total views per day are experienced on average on the NRC Blog site?
    “Views” are one thing and “posts” and “comments” are quite another. Only the NRC can post on the NRC Blog site; anyone can post on the Open Forum site. How do the number of NRC posts on the NRC Blog site compare to the number of posts on the Open Forum site? (Average number per week would be fine).
    Now for “comments” posted in response to the blogs posted on these two sites…
    How many post comment replies are posted on average per week on each of these sites?
    I suspect that these numbers will show that the NRC Blog site is where the vast majority of the action is.
    Seems to be the NRC would want to encourage more comments on a variety of topics and not just those limited to the NRC flavor of the week featured on the NRC Blog site.
    Sending an email alert to those 1,675 amazing people (who have signed onto the NRC Blog site) whenever a comment is posted on the NRC Open Forum site would be a great way to substantially increase not only total site “views” but the total comments as well on that site. Isn’t that what having a successful blog site is all about?

  5. According to WordPress (the platform that hosts the blog), there have been 6,125 total views to the Open Forum blog post. To be notified whenever a new comment is posted to a post you are interested in, just click in the Leave a Reply box and you will see options below it that include “Notify me of new comments via email.”


  6. Suggestion to enhance openness and transparency…
    NRC Blog site questions for you Ms. Moderator…
    I noted that you state about the NRC Blog site that “1,675 other amazing people” are following this blog. How many amazing people are following the NRC Open Forum site?
    I like the fact that you keep blogs on the Open Forum site indefinitely. But I do not believe you let all of us amazing people know of a new blog on the Open Forum site or for that matter any new comments posted in response to that blog. If blogs and comments meet your comment guidelines why aren’t we (your amazing people) alerted by email to posts and comments on the Open Forum site as we are alerted to those on the NRC Blog site? I am sure this is just an oversight on your part. Otherwise it would seem to me, and perhaps others, that you are really primarily interested in just selective feedback on issues and topics that interest the NRC. Also alerting folks to new posts and comments on the Open Forum site would I believe encourage even more, as you have stated, “lively and engaging dialogue”.

  7. I am anxiously awaiting your blog post on Safeguards Information Ms. Janney. Your insights and answers to blog questions and comments will be most appreciated. Would you also include answers to the following in your post?
    Remove One Nuclear Power Stigma
    The NRC is the only federal agency that has a secret classification that goes beyond “Confidential”. It is called “Safeguards Information (SGI)”. With it the NRC has kept from the public domain around 17,000 documents.
    This additional secret classification has been questioned even by the NRC’s own Office of the Inspector General. Specifically Audit OIG-04-A-04 questioned “whether the designation of SGI as sensitive unclassified information is justified or cost effective.”
    Subsequent OIG audits pointed out a number of deficiencies with the SGI program and especially with the adequacy of the SGI data base itself. (OIG-12-A-12 & OIG-13-A-16)
    Furthermore the NRC has abused its authority by classifying more documents as SGI than it should. A number of SGI documents have been requested for release under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and the NRC has been forced to release many of them.
    The cost to us taxpayers for the NRC to maintain and upgrade this separate SGI system has been steep. In the NRC’s ADAMS data base 1,900,000 documents are maintained, 900,000 of which are in the non-public portion of ADAMS. Still the NRC persists in maintaining a separate data base for only 17,000 documents. If my math is correct those 17,000 documents constitute less than 1% of all documents maintained by the NRC. The NRC should finally do the right thing. Review those 17,000 and move only the ones that are truly sensitive to the non-public portion of the ADAMS data base. Better yet if they so qualify they should be classified and treated as truly Confidential documents.
    Another “cost” of this separate, special, and unique NRC classification system is the cost to the public’s perception of what the NRC is about. These perceptions might include…
    • Why does the NRC have the right to keep more information from the public than any other federal agency?
    • Is nuclear power so much more dangerous than anything else the feds regulate, that such additional secrecy is essential?
    • That the NRC is keeping more secrets than any other agency, even the CIA and the FBI.
    • That this additional secrecy flies in the face of the image the NRC tries to convey to the public. Namely that they are an open and transparent federal agency.
    Please NRC at least remove this one nuclear stigma!

  8. Ms. Janney, in order to assist in your search for an answer to my previous blog I offer the following…
    Excerpt from the “Audit of NRC’s Protection of Safeguards Information”, OIG-04-A-04 dated January 8, 2004
    “Especially in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, the OIG questions whether the designation of SGI as sensitive unclassified information is justified or cost effective. OIG believes SGI information can be protected by the standard confidential classification with little or no additional cost. Moreover, SGI-M can be adequately protected by the standard official use only designation.”
    This audit is by the NRC’s own Office of the Inspector General (OIG) which reports directly to the Chairman of NRC Commission. It appears that the NRC did not act on this important recommendation. Why, Ms. Moderator?! (It is OK with me if you just answer for the NRC.)

  9. Ms. Janney response, “The NRC cannot speak for the FBI nor the CIA. Neither can we speak for Congress related to its passage of Atomic Energy Bill. However, we are happy to do a future blog post on the subject of SGI.” I appreciate the offer of a future blog on SGI Ms. Janney. I admit though that I was disappointed in the first part of your response. I was hoping that you would speak just for the NRC. I know the NRC takes positions on issues and also responds to auditor’s comments and recommendations. Perhaps you could share a link to the NRC’s response to an OIG audit that questioned the use of this special SGI category. Additionally, has the NRC recommended to Congress any changes to this program including perhaps that this special classification is no longer deemed to be necessary or even appropriate? Thanks.

  10. The NRC cannot speak for the FBI nor the CIA. Neither can we speak for Congress related to its passage of Atomic Energy Bill. However, we are happy to do a future blog post on the subject of SGI.

    Margie Janney

  11. Glass Half-Empty or Half-Full?
    I appreciate the prompt informative response.
    So the public has access to a little more than half of the information in ADAMS. You state, “In general, the non-public documents contain information such as proprietary information, personal and private information, or information subject to attorney-client privilege that should not be in the public domain.”
    Additionally, approximately 17,000 documents are maintained outside of ADAMS in a special category of sensitive unclassified information created by Section 147 of the Atomic Energy Act. Furthermore, the NRC is the only federal agency that has this so-called Safeguards Information category.
    Considering then all the documentation the NRC possesses, about half is available to the public.
    Frankly, I am pleased that there are far fewer documents classified as Safeguards Information than I suspected. I guess I especially notice the times the NRC uses this classification. I wonder what is deemed to be so sensitive that it cannot be shared with the public?! For example, recently I have noted that some meetings (and portions thereof) with nuclear power plant licensees regarding the results of their flood hazard’s analyses have been declared to be off-limits to the public. I suspect that the reason is that the results of the analyses point toward a possible nuclear plant susceptibility to a flood. Seems to me that if that is the case, classifying such a meeting as Safeguards Information acts as nothing more than a lightning rod to any potential enemies. Also isn’t keeping such critical information from the public under those circumstances, very questionable at a minimum?! Doesn’t the public have an inherent right to know about potential threats to their safety/security?
    Some other questions Ms. Janney,
    • The CIA and the FBI are also very large federal agencies. Is roughly the same portion of their databases withheld from public disclosure?
    • As I understand it the Atomic Energy Act was approved in 1954. Why was this special category of sensitive yet unclassified information created just for the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC), now called the NRC? For example is nuclear energy considered a greater national security threat than all other potential threats?
    • Over the years this special category has been questioned by a number of auditors. Why has the NRC not abandoned or otherwise modified this special category?

  12. ADAMS contains approximately 1.9 million electronic documents. Of those, approximately 1 million are publicly available and 900,000 are withheld from public disclosure. In general, the non-public documents contain information such as proprietary information, personal and private information, or information subject to attorney-client privilege that should not be in the public domain. These documents are what you might consider “confidential.” For additional detail, see Information Security at .

    Safeguards Information (SGI) is a special category of sensitive unclassified information authorized by Section 147 of the Atomic Energy Act to be protected. Safeguards Information concerns the physical protection of operating power reactors, spent fuel shipments, strategic special nuclear material, or other radioactive material. Although SGI is sensitive, unclassified information, it is marked and protected in many aspects similar to Confidential National Security Information. The NRC is the only federal agency that creates Safeguards Information. There are about 17,000 electronic documents that fall into this category. No Safeguards Information is in ADAMS.

    Thank you for your interest in accessing NRC documents.

    Margie Janney
    Chief, IT/IM Policy Branch
    Office of Information Services

  13. I’d like to see the” Power Reactor Status Report” in graph form versus time. You could see quickly see short term changes as well as long term trends. See it in a daily, weekly and yearly form on one page , where you could quickly pick up the time and duration of a down power(amount), shutdown and start up.

    I’d like to compare the operation of one plant from another.

    OMG, an android app…

    As it goes now, you bury information by only seeing one date at a time. It is amazingly time consuming to see the trends.

    These bad boys who go up and down at power like a mad man is hard to detect…

  14. The results you received are exactly as expected. The search returned the most relevant information with the word “bar.”

    The graphic in the post is only an illustration and does not represent the search bar on the Web page, which has not changed in how it looks. We’ve updated the post to clarify it’s only a graphic.

    Pat Hall

  15. To Patricia Hall
    Thanks for all your efforts, now please consider adding an edit button with at least a few minute of accessibility so that users can correct and/or delete posted as necessary to make using this blog even better. If you are really generous, perhaps you will also add some basic formatting “tools” as most other sites offer because that along with faster moderation will really help speed up the discussion on this NRC blog site.

  16. Great Comment, hopefully they will post a factual reply, especially about what is available from other Gov’t. sources but not from the NRC site!

    It is very hard for the educated public to provide useful information to the NRC if we cannot get access to the data which is required to determine it, case in point is the $5 Billion San Onofre RSG debacle, where the operator is withholding operational data from Unit 2 and Unit 3 (which was listed in the NRC’s own AIT report) which will be helpful in determining exactly why FEI occurred in Unit 3 but not Unit 2. SCE is now claiming that the operational data is proprietary even though both Unit 2 and Unit 3 are being decommissioned and the NRC ALB has received calculations indicating that Unit 3 was being operated outside its limitations by SCE in what can only be called an experiment that went wrong. If the NRC will not provide data and/or info on an as needed basis, then their claim to be open and transparent is “flawed”.

    BTW: I suggest that Patricia Hall add the search button to this page as that would allow users of the blog to access eh larger NRC site much easier.

  17. Non-public Portion of ADAMS
    I am glad the Commission is allowing even better access to the “public part of the ADAMS document library”.
    To help the layman better understand your agency’s claim to be “open & transparent”, how about giving us a feel for just how large the “non-public” portion of the document library is? For example, what portion of ADAMS is public versus non-public? Perhaps a gigabyte (GB) comparison would be helpful. Also the NRC uses a special classification category not used by any other federal agency. It is called “Safeguards Information”. This classification is used to withhold literally tens of thousands of additional documents from the public domain, documents that would be available from other federal agencies.
    Therefore NRC please give us even a rough estimate of…
    The portion of ADAMS that is the “public part”…
    The portion of ADAMS that is the non-public part…
    And of the non-public part what portion is classified “Confidential” and what part is classified “Safeguards Information”?
    Or is our “open & transparent” NRC even able to provide such a rough estimate as any such answer would probably be classified as “Safeguards Information”?!

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