Avoidance of Mischaracterization of Effect of Certain Communications to Licensees
See the memorandum from H. K. Shapar to H. R. Denton (and others) dated February 5, 1981. Included with this document is a second and similar memorandum written by W. J. Dircks to Chairman Hendrie and Commissioners Gilinsky, Bradford, and Ahearne dated March 9, 1981. These two memos emphasize that staff positions are not binding requirements unless formally issued as regulations or set forth in orders. NUREG guidance and acceptance criteria documents should not be viewed as requirements.
In several letters to licensees and in NUREG guidance and acceptance criteria documents reviewed by OELD, the actions requested of licensees or the guidance and criteria contained in staff documents were set forth as "requirements." Staff positions communicated to licensees are not binding requirements unless formally issued as regulations, set forth in orders, or are decisions of an appropriate commission adjudicatory body. Less formal methods of communicating staff positions often produce voluntary licensee action leading to the desired result.
Licensees and the public must be accurately informed as to when something is a requirement and when the NRC is merely setting forth guidance, establishing criteria, or asking licensees voluntarily to do something. To avoid confusion, guidance, criteria and requests should not contain language that states or implies that these staff documents are requirements.
Regulatory references: Regulatory Guides, NUREG Documents
Subject codes: 12.7, 12.19