Nuclear Safety Research Responsiveness to Regulatory Needs and Coordination

RCED-84-15: Published: Nov 15, 1983. Publicly Released: Nov 18, 1983.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO evaluated the relationship of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's (NRC) nuclear safety research program to its regulatory process and how NRC and the Department of Energy (DOE) delineate and coordinate their respective research responsibilities to preclude unnecessary duplication.

NRC and DOE have overlapping research and development responsibilities for light-water reactor safety research, advanced reactors, and nuclear waste management and, although their respective research has different purposes, it involves the same technologies. GAO found that coordination between the agencies has occurred. In its program plan for light-water reactor safety research and development, DOE included NRC staff members in the 10 working groups it established to define research needs, and DOE and NRC have implemented an interagency agreement with specific coordinating techniques to be used in nuclear waste management. These techniques have helped keep DOE, NRC, and their contractors aware of the two agencies' research efforts. Nevertheless, some intentional duplication of research efforts has occurred. GAO believes that NRC needs to conduct some research which duplicates the DOE efforts to ensure that its independence is not compromised.

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