Tuesday, June 16, 2015

NRC's Project AIM 2020

Last week, the NRC commissioners responded to staff recommendations for improving the agency's agility, effectiveness and efficiency.  In a June 8, 2015 Staff Requirements Memo (SRM)*, the commissioners approved most of the staff's recommendations received in a report called Project AIM 2020.**  The recommendations approved last week included: (a) developing a strategic workforce plan; (b) reducing the time it takes to shift employees between areas as workloads change; (c) evaluating the Centers of Excellence concept; (d) evaluating the merger of the operating reactors office with the new reactors office; (e) developing a common prioritization process that integrates all work activities across the agency; (f) re-baselining the agency's work; (g) improving the transparency and timeliness of NRC's fee-setting process; (h) streamlining other processes where feasible.

Project AIM 2020 is the agency's attempt to re-balance agency resources bulked up in anticipation of a renaissance of new-plant applications in the early 2000s that has fallen short of expectations (see graph below). 
We applaud this first step in identifying what can be done to reassess the NRC's needs and redeploy its resources in a manner that best serves its mission of protecting the public health, safety and the environment.  In the main, we are very pleased the commissioners have now given their direction and support to the Project AIM recommendations.  We note, however, that the SRM [page 1] directs the Executive Director of Operations to develop an overall plan for implementation of the approved recommendations.  It is essential for the Commission to ensure this "plan for a plan" is completed in a timely and prudent way.

Much work lies ahead to fulfill the approved recommendations.  As stakeholders in NRC's effectiveness, efficiency and credibility, we will follow this work with great interest and lend our support to aligning NRC's capabilities and capacity with its true needs.  Our above-noted trepidation notwithstanding, we celebrate issuance of the SRM as the "end of the beginning" of Project AIM 2020.

*SRM-SECY-15-0015, Staff Requirements Memo SECY-15-0015 – Project AIM 2020 Report and Recommendations. ADAMS Accession Number ML15159A234.  **Project AIM 2020 Report and Recommendations, SECY-15-0015, January 30, 2015, ADAMS Accession Number ML15023A558.

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