U.S. NRC Blog

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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.

8 responses to “Progress Toward a Right-Sized, Agile Nuclear Regulator

  1. Bryan Chesebrough April 20, 2016 at 7:19 am

    This is a long needed and long awaited beginning. Nuclear power has demonstrated over the last 60 years that it has caused the fewest deaths per Terrawatt Hours of power produced than any other energy source. The NRC should be carefully examining the suggestions of the Nuclear Innovation Alliance in its restructuring. Advanced (GEN IV) Nuclear Reactors hold the promise of utilizing the most energy dense elements on the periodic table in a safe and carbon-free manor. Thankfully there are leaders in Congress from both parties that are sponsoring legislation aimed at facilitating this restructure through the Nuclear Energy Regulatory Modernization Act (NERMA).

    • drbillcorcoran April 20, 2016 at 9:42 am

      Is it time for IAEA, NRC, INPO, and NEI to commit openly to integrity being an essential trait of the good safety culture?

      Integrity:

      Integrity is achieved when individuals, groups, and organizations do not falsify, fabricate, mislead, misrepresent, turn a blind eye, plagiarize, obfuscate, or otherwise deceive and do not tolerate those who do. Integrity is achieved by owning up to shortfalls. The integrity of individuals reflects the integrity of their leaders.

  2. Anonymous April 16, 2016 at 6:08 am

    This is jiberish nonsense !!!! It will truely expose the country and excellerate the inevitable nuclear holicost 😱

  3. 1948billhawkins April 15, 2016 at 9:53 pm

    If INPO 3 or 4 Utilities like SCE do their job correctly, do not violate NRC Rules, do not compromise public safety and get away with it, NRC does not to need to perform so many inspections or need a large staff. NRC should act like DMV. When NRC catches utilities breaking rules, NRC should impose heavy fines for minor violations and jail time for severe violations. SONGS is a perfect example.It is never too late, NRC can force SONGS to release Units 2 & 3 operational data and send the offenders to jail. I am surprised that NRC is not defending itself when SCE Attorney says NRC did not use the actual operational data per Elmo Collins Directive but made some assumptions to derive some imaginary results (To suit SCE). SCE has made a fool of NRC all these years like CPUC and brought shame on NRC. When will NRC Learn?

    • drbillcorcoran April 19, 2016 at 9:17 am

      NRC gave SCE enough rope under 50.59 and stood by innocently while SCE and MHI hung themselves.

      Who at NRC, INPO, SCE, and MHI knew that 50.59 was being abuses, misused, violated, and/or misinterpreted and did nothing?

      Jefferson said that the only thing needed for evil men to succeed is for good men to do nothing.

      Nassim Nicholas Taleb said, “If you see fraud and do not say “fraud” you are a fraud.”

      Jon Stewart said, “If you smell something, say something.”

      In the fire service they advocate, “If you see anything dumb, dangerous, or different, report it.”

  4. Anonymous April 15, 2016 at 6:41 pm

    “Re-baselining” is indeed a great concept and it was longtime coming at the agency. For, almost 1/3 of the work force are already “dead wood” and consists of senior management (SLS) types, who have been truly draining the budget what with the unconscionable perks that they have been generously giving themselves (10 percent of staffs vs 90 percent senior management’s out of a 5 million bonus pool – seriously!!!). But don’t cut the FTEs of hard core devoted employee talent pool that has been carrying the burden of work load, while, the right wing lobby groups in consort with the utilities who constantly were cutting corners on safety (case in point – the very many guidance improvements that emerged from the JLD task force and in development of Risk informed licensing regulations). I sincerely hope and assume that I am right in that, the management, staff, and the Commission collectively did a sincere “soul searching” before green lighting implementing the reduction- in-force (RIF). If not, that is “unconscionable” when the industry is one the brink of entering an aging nuclear fleet, past its prime what with all the uprated power beyond its original design capacities.

    Otherwise, the Citizens ought to seriously consider living at 2 X EPZ distances.

  5. acehoffman April 15, 2016 at 1:55 pm

    This is undoubtedly due to loss of NRC income as reactors have closed and will continue to close, since such a hefty portion of NRC’s budget comes from the licensees.

    But the claim that safety will not be impacted is bizarre and cannot possibly be true.

    NRC is reducing oversight: Extending/cutting inspection periods, cutting services, etc., and ALSO cutting fees to licensees? Both?

    How about RAISING fees so that inspections and other services actually go UP as reactors age and become more prone to aging failures, but fewer reactors have to share the burden of costs?

    How about increasing security as new threats emerge: Suicidal terrorists, Internet hackers, fake/poorly manufactured hardware components, newly discovered design errors, and last but not least, insiders going crazy… All these threats were unrecognized just a few years ago, along with newly recognized threats from Mother Nature, threats that still have been deemed “beyond design basis accidents” — but that no longer means “they can’t possibly happen” — not after Fukushima. Now they are considered, briefly, and then ignored as “rare” events, with no idea what “rare” really means — but admitting there’s no way to deal with those events if they do happen.

    In today’s world, that’s not good enough. There are alternative power sources without the accompanying risk envelope, let alone the mess of waste left behind, a huge and growing problem still completely unsolved by NRC or anyone else.

    The licensees and the NRC are slow to recognize the world as it exists today. In short, nobody is watching out for icebergs on the Titanic of nuclear power.

    But now, you want to slow down everything you do, our ONLY safety agency against the greatest threat to the American way of life that exists in our world today? When you’re already not doing your job (which is to oversee the permanent closure of all nuclear power plants)?

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