Chief Financial Officer
The American taxpayer, the rate-paying consumer, and licensees are all entitled to the best possible management and administration of regulatory activities. The highest technical and managerial competence is required, and must be a constant agency goal. NRC must establish means to evaluate and continually upgrade its regulatory capabilities. Regulatory activities should be consistent with the degree of risk reduction they achieve. Where several effective alternatives are available, the option which minimizes the use of resources should be adopted. Regulatory decisions should be made without undue delay.
The principles of good regulation are critically important to the day-to-day operations of the agency. They’re our guide posts. They’re touchstones to help us be sure that we’re properly executing our mission.
As the chief financial officer, I am partial to the efficiency principle. It is one of the reasons that I come to work every day. We are not only federal employees but also taxpayers and citizens, so we should be sure that we’re taking care of the nation’s resources appropriately. In addition to the payments we receive from our licensees, the NRC also receives an appropriation from the Congress each year. It’s “your money” and “our money” at the same time. Efficiency as we execute the agency’s work supports both the public good and the expectations we have as individuals for the best value we can offer.
As part of our focus on efficiency, the NRC has an initiative underway to improve our ability to plan and execute our mission. Known as Project Aim, this is an effort to find ways to better adapt to a dynamic environment and changes in workload. With direction from our Commissioners, the staff is working to “right-size” the agency to ensure we have the skills we need to accomplish our mission; to use agency resources more wisely; to improve the timeliness of our decision-making and respond quickly to changing conditions; and to promote unity of purpose through clearer agency priorities.
As Steering Committee co-chair, I have seen a lot of creativity from the staff as we work though the initial 19 tasks approved by the Commission, especially as we work to make processes more efficient and to shed unnecessary work. By the time we complete this effort, the NRC will have saved a total of nearly $50 million. That’s real money in my book.
This work requires us to find the right balance to make sure we are meeting our safety mission while delivering results in a timely and cost-effective way. As an example, we aim to review applications in a timely manner while ensuring safety and security. Meeting this goal depends in part on receiving complete, high-quality applications. Many of our programs have implemented acceptance reviews, which give NRC staff a chance to make sure an application is complete before we begin our detailed technical reviews. If we find things we think are missing or would otherwise slow down our technical review, we ask the applicant to supplement their application. This process saves the licensee money and allows our staff to work on other activities until that application is ready.
For me one of the most important purposes of the principles is cultural. There are many different roles here at the agency. You hear people talk about being a technical or Commission office, as compared to people who provide corporate support. Or the distinction between people in the regions and those here in Rockville, Md. But, no matter your role, the principles apply to all of us. They are a unifying aspect to our culture. I can sit in a meeting with my colleagues in operating reactors or in nuclear materials and wastes and we’d still have an important shared vocabulary that is meaningful and helps us transcend our individual goals and move together toward the right solutions.
This post is the third of five that will explore each of the five principles separately. For the history of the Principles of Good Regulation, read this post.
2 thoughts on “Principles of Good Regulation: Efficiency”
Oh, the words we use. I’m so grateful for this response, yet it does set up the NRC to return to the days of “do whatever” it seems we’ve had in the past. I wonder where the CFO sees us general public, housewife, mom citizens in these statements, hopefully without the head shaking because we see nuclear power so simply too toxic and irresponsible for the children in our communities:
“You hear people talk about being a technical or Commission office, as compared to people who provide corporate support. Or the distinction between people in the regions and those here in Rockville, Md. But, no matter your role, the principles apply to all of us.”
The safety culture problems recently identified at Pilgrim and Entergy and the NRC’s handling of them have convinced me there is a Safety Problem at the NRC as well. This is a systemic safety culture defect in the industry and the regulatory agency as well. It’s all about MONEY, cost trumps Public Safety. The nuclear industry is in crisis, it can’t compete in spite of all the corporate welfare it receives. The NRC is essentially business partners with the industry and the ugly conflicted aspect of the NRC’s job is also to keep the industry afloat. All of this is subsidized and paid for by the rate payers and the tax payers. The NRC is like a sovereign Nation, they answer to no one but themselves with only a very WEAK system of oversight, checks and balances that be can be exercised by Congress. The game is rigged.
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