United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

Recommending Third Party Assistance to Licensees

HPPOS-324 PDR-9308260248

See the memorandum from J. M. Taylor to T. T. Martin (and others) dated July 15, 1993.

This memo, which included an enclosure entitled "Guidance for Recommending Third Party Assistance to Licensees," concerns the recommendation of consultants and contractors to licensees by NRC employees.

To be responsive to licensees requesting assistance in getting help in solving programmatic problems, inspectors have provided aid by recommending consultants who could provide quality work. The NRC staff and management had informally decided that by recommending multiple consultants they were avoiding any potential conflict of interest. The issue was reviewed by the General Counsel in consultation with the Office of Government Ethics and concluded that an NRC employee is prohibited from recommending the services of any particular person or organization for a project under NRC regulatory jurisdiction. Providing such a recommendation violated 5 CFR 2635.702. This regulation prohibits Federal employees from using public office for endorsement of any product, service, or enterprise.

As an agency, however, the NRC has an obligation to provide assistance in helping licensees solve problems where the health and safety of the public are involved. With this in mind, guidance was issued to assist the Regions in developing office specific procedures for providing third party assistance to licensees. The procedures to be developed by the Regions should address cases where programmatic problems are involved and identify regional and national sources of assistance to licensees (see Case 1 below). Examples of sources include the Nuclear News Buyers Guide or other industry reference documents, another licensee who has solved a similar problem, or an appropriate professional society such as the Health Physics Society, the American Association of Physicists in Medicine, and the Society for Nuclear Medicine. The procedures should also address those cases where an immediate referral may be necessary (see Case 2 below). Once procedures are developed, their implementation should be discussed at courses on Fundamentals of Inspection and inspector counterpart meetings.

Case 1: An NRC employee receives a request for third party assistance from a licensee.

  1. The employee should notify NRC management as soon as practical.

  2. Following consultation with management, the employee may refer the licensee to any of the following sources:

    1. The current version of the Nuclear News Buyers Guide. If not otherwise available to the licensee, a copy of the Buyers Guide can be obtained by contacting the Accounting Department of the American Nuclear Society, 555 N. Kensington Ave., La Grange Park, IL 60525.

    2. After consultation with office / regional management, a licensee may be referred to another licensee that has solved a similar problem. When providing the name of a referral licensee, special care must be taken to avoid the perception of conflict of interest and that the referred licensee is not under an OI investigation for misconduct.

    3. An appropriate professional society such as the American Society for Mechanical Engineers or the Health Physics Society. [Note: Regions may want to keep a list of local society chapters for referral purposes.]

    4. For materials or medical licensees, the NRC employee may recommend the following professional groups as a reference source (the following list is not inclusive and may be added to after confirmation the professional group is willing to assist third party sources): American Academy of Health Physics, 8000 West Park Drive, McLean, VA 22102, Phone No. (703) 790-1745.

American Association of Physicists in Medicine, 335 E. 45th St., New York, NY 10017, Phone No. (212) 661-9404. [Note: Moving to Washington, DC area in late 1993.]

Society of Nuclear Medicine / American College of Nuclear Physicians, Government Relations, 1101 Connecticut Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20036, Phone No. (202) 429-5120.

American College of Medical Physicists, 1891 Preston White Dr., Reston, VA 22091, Phone No. (703) 648-8966.

Case 2: An immediate health or safety issue exists and it is not practical to take the kind of action detailed in Case 1.

  1. The NRC employee may refer the licensee to an appropriate equipment manufacturer.

  2. After consultation and approval from NRC management, the NRC employee may refer the licensee to one or more qualified consultants or contractors who can provide prompt safety assistance. [Note: If the issue is so immediate that it is not practical to consult with NRC management, the employee should make the referral first, and then inform NRC management.] Special care should always be taken providing recommendations concerning consultants with whom the recommending staff has a personal or long standing relationship.

  3. Following the action, the NRC employee must document the event and the justification for the action and provide a copy to the EDO.

Regulatory references: 5 CFR 2635.702

Subject codes: 12.19

Applicability: All

Page Last Reviewed/Updated Friday, August 05, 2016