Observations on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's Fiscal Year 1999 Performance Report and Fiscal Year 2001 Performance Plan
RCED-00-200R: Published: Jun 30, 2000. Publicly Released: Aug 1, 2000.
Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's (NRC) fiscal year (FY) 1999 performance report and FY 2001 performance plan, focusing on the degree to which performance goals were met.
GAO noted that: (1) NRC's performance report includes all the performance goals related to the four key outcomes and shows that it has met all of its performance goals for three key outcomes: (a) no radiation-related deaths or illnesses due to civilian nuclear reactors; (b) wastes produced by civilian use of nuclear materials are treated, stored, and disposed of safely; and (c) no loss or theft of special nuclear materials regulated by NRC; (2) NRC is following through on its commitment to focus more on outcomes, rather than its previous practice of focusing on outputs, to better determine the extent to which its programs and activities have contributed to achieving its performance goals and more directly links key strategies to its performance goals; (3) despite these positive actions, GAO continues to have concerns that NRC has not verified and validated the data used to assess performance for the four key outcomes; (4) to reflect its changing regulatory direction, NRC has identified four new performance goals that apply to almost all of the agency's activities, which are: (a) to maintain safety and protect the environment, common defense, and security; (b) increase public confidence; (c) make its activities more effective, efficient, and realistic; and (d) reduce unnecessary regulatory burden on stakeholders; (5) NRC expects to develop measures and metrics for the remaining goals during the next year; (6) 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; (7) NRC has not established performance goals or measures that specifically address the 13 major management challenges that GAO and NRC's Office of Inspector General identified; (8) 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; (9) NRC has activities underway, has identified strategies, or has established output measures that address the management challenges; (10) NRC either has an output measure or management strategy that relates to four management challenges (developing information management systems, overseeing agency procurement, maintaining an unqualified financial statement, and refocusing NRC's research program to reflect a mature industry); and (11) although NRC has neither a goal, measure, nor strategy to address the cultural and organizational challenges that GAO identified, it has taken or is in the process of taking various actions to address this management challenge.