EVALUATING INTERNAL STAKEHOLDER PERSPECTIVES ON RISK-INFORMED REGULATORY PRACTICES FOR THE NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION Page: 2 of 7
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WM'03 Conference, February 23-27, 2003, Tucson, AZ
(3) implement changes to achieve the target environment, and
(4) assess effectiveness of environmental changes.
The first phase of the program, the evaluation of the current environment, was designed to gain
insight into internal NRC staff perceptions of risk-informed regulatory practices in the reactor
program. Undertaken in fall 2001, the evaluation included individual interviews and focus
groups conducted both at headquarters and in all four regions, reaching a total of nearly 100
NRC employees nationwide. All the respondents volunteered to be a part of the evaluation
process, indicating a high level of interest in the topic. Respondents represented all professional
levels within the reactor program-senior managers, engineers, PRA branch staff, branch chiefs,
inspectors, etc., providing a broad array of perspectives and experience.
The assessment team designed interviews and questions to achieve three goals: assess the current
environment, identify barriers to the integration of risk into NRC activities; and gather input on
how to move to a risk-informed environment. This paper reports on only the first of these goals.
To assess the current environment, the team investigated the level of acceptance of risk-informed
approaches throughout the reactor program, the level of integration, areas of success, and areas
of difficulty. The following statements briefly characterized the current environment within the
" NRC staff demonstrate increasing acceptance of a risk-informed approach in the reactor
" Debate appears to have moved beyond whether risk insights should be integrated into
activities, to discussion of how and when to implement risk-informed approaches.
" NRC staff and managers vary widely in their understanding of and experience with risk-
informed approaches, as well as their acceptance of them. Staff ranged from being experts at
conducting PRAs to acknowledging unfamiliarity with risk technology and applications.
" Barriers to implementation span a range of issues, including technical, organizational,
communications issues, as well as levels of staff knowledge and experience.
PROGRESS IN IMPLEMENTING RISK-INFORMED REGULATION
The evaluation found that acceptance of risk-informed regulatory approaches in the reactor
program is generally increasing. Though there are pockets of disagreement, the majority of
respondents felt that PRA technology can make significant contributions to NRC regulatory
practices. Respondents consistently agree on the issues NRC faces in the use of PRA technology
and risk insights, but thoughts varied on how to address those issues.
Growing Acceptance Correlates with Experience
The evaluation showed both increasing acceptance of PRA across the reactor program and an
apparent positive correlation between acceptance and experience. A number of indicators of
increasing acceptance appeared consistently during the focus groups and interviews. The PRA
experts reported positive movement, demonstrated by more requests for help and less perceived
defensiveness and hostility. Staff took care to avoid appearing anti-PRA when discussing the
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Peterson, L. K.; Wight, E. H. & Caruso, M. A. EVALUATING INTERNAL STAKEHOLDER PERSPECTIVES ON RISK-INFORMED REGULATORY PRACTICES FOR THE NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION, article, February 27, 2003; Tucson, Arizona. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc788345/m1/2/: accessed November 19, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.