Observations on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's Fiscal Year 1999 Performance Report and Fiscal Year 2001 Performance Plan Page: 3 of 42
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the performance goals, and did not indicate whether the evaluation results showed a
need for NRC to change its goals or strategies. For example, NRC describes a "top
down" assessment of the Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation to improve the
effectiveness and the efficiency of that office and a 6-month pilot program to
determine the feasibility of moving forward with its new safety oversight process for
nuclear power plants. NRC also describes three program evaluation reviews related
to materials performance and the processes used to determine the feasibility of
streamlining its license review process for uranium recovery, decommissioning, and
high-level waste programs. However, NRC did not discuss how the evaluation results
can help it meet or identify the need to change its performance goals or strategies. In
addition, NRC did not conduct any program evaluations that specifically addressed
the security area. Although NRC initially identified security as a strategic arena, it
has since integrated these activities into the performance goals of the three key
outcomes discussed above. Nevertheless, because of the significant dangers that the
loss or theft of special nuclear materials would pose to the public and despite being
commingled with the agency's other key outcomes, it would seem prudent that
security would warrant special attention in program evaluations.
To reflect its changing regulatory direction, NRC has identified four new performance
goals that apply to almost all of the agency's activities. The new performance goals
are to maintain safety and protect the environment, common defense, and security
(referred to as the maintain safety goal); increase public confidence; make its
activities more effective, efficient, and realistic; and reduce unnecessary regulatory
burden on stakeholders. NRC also identified succinct and concrete performance
measures and metrics for the maintain safety goal but not for the other three
performance goals. NRC expects to develop measures and metrics for the remaining
goals during the next year. NRC focused on the maintain safety goal because
ensuring public health and safety from the operations and activities of its licensees is
its primary statutory responsibility.
NRC has not established performance goals or measures that specifically address the
13 major management challenges that we and its OIG identified. Although NRC said
that the management issues present a challenge for the agency, it does not view them
as mission-critical problems that impede the agency's carrying out its goals. In
addition, NRC staff believe that the agency's programs and activities sufficiently
reflect the issues that we and the OIG identified. Therefore, NRC does not believe
that the management challenges are significant enough to warrant a separate
performance goal or measure. However, NRC has activities underway, has identified
strategies, or has established output measures that address the management
challenges. For example, NRC has identified four new performance goals for its
three major strategic arenas. One performance goal relates to maintaining safety in
the operation of commercial nuclear power plants; the various entities that process
and fabricate uranium ore into fuel for the plants as well as those that use nuclear
material for industrial, medical, and academic purposes; and activities related to the
'NRC has identified four strategic arenas: nuclear reactor safety, nuclear materials safety, nuclear
waste safety, and international nuclear safety support. The new performance goals do not apply to the
international nuclear safety support arena.
3 GAO/RCED-00-200R NRC's FY 1999 Performance Report and FY 2001 Performance Plan
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United States. General Accounting Office. Observations on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's Fiscal Year 1999 Performance Report and Fiscal Year 2001 Performance Plan, text, June 30, 2000; Washington D.C.. (https://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc301424/m1/3/: accessed April 20, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, https://digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.