Progress Toward a Right-Sized, Agile Nuclear Regulator

Victor M. McCree
Executive Director for Operations

The NRC has begun “re-baselining” the agency’s workload, shedding, deferring or reducing resources. This is a crucial step in Project Aim, our effort to transform the NRC into a more agile, effective and efficient organization poised to meet the challenges of the future.

The Commission has decided on the staff’s recommendations of activities that can be eliminated or de-prioritized without compromising our important safety mission. Re-baselining reductions total about $48.97 million and will reduce the workforce by about 185.3 full-time equivalent (FTE) over the next two years. We are confident we can implement the majority of these reductions by the end of September, allowing us to achieve significant savings in fiscal year 2017.

We can implement re-baselining without impacting our important safety and security mission and without affecting our ability to demonstrate organizational values and principles of good regulation.

Every office, division and branch within the NRC will be affected by re-baselining, directly or indirectly.

What will all this mean for our licensees and other external stakeholders? We will no longer conduct mid-cycle reviews under the Reactor Oversight Process. Procedures and guidance may not be updated as often, and the updates may take longer. Materials licenses will be renewed every 15 years instead of every 10. As our budget shrinks, fees assessed to licensees should go down as well.

While we remain committed to be open and transparent, some public meetings traditionally held near nuclear facilities will instead be handled by webinars or GoToMeeting. And if you call the NRC after work hours, you may end up talking to an answering machine rather than an operator, as we cut back on contractor expenses. The emergency operations center will continue to be staffed 24 hours a day. We will also be reducing travel and training support for our Agreement State and tribal government partners.

Re-baselining is the beginning, not the end, of the NRC’s Project Aim transformation to be better positioned to meet the challenges ahead. We will continue to look for more ways to increase efficiency. As part of this effort, the staff on March 18 presented the Commission a list of longer-term efficiencies that will bring additional benefits now and in the future, as well as a projection of changes in the agency workload through FY 2020. Additional proposals will be sent to the Commission in the spring, including potential reductions to the agency’s drug testing program and current security clearance requirements, and the evaluation of merging the Offices of Nuclear Reactor Regulation and the Office of New Reactors

Rest assured: As we carry out these important changes, we remain focused on our mission of regulating the civilian uses of radioactive material while protecting public health, safety, the environment and the nation’s security.