United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment
Home > About NRC > How We Regulate > Enforcement > Alternative Dispute Resolution

Alternative Dispute Resolution in the NRC's Enforcement Program

Welcome to the Office of Enforcement's (OE's) Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Program's web page.  In 2004, the Commission incorporated the use of ADR in its Enforcement Program in order to achieve more timely and economical resolution of issues, more effective outcomes, and improved relationships.  OE oversees, manages, and develops guidance for the ADR program.

Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) is a term that refers to a number of processes, such as mediation and a facilitated dialogue, that can be used to assist parties in resolving disputes. The Administrative Dispute Resolution Act of 1996 (ADRA) exit icon encourages the use of ADR by Federal agencies and defines ADR as “any procedure that is used to resolve issues in controversy, including but not limited to, conciliation, facilitation, mediation, fact finding, mini trials, arbitration, and use of Ombudsman, or any combination thereof.” These techniques involve the use of a skilled third party neutral, and most are voluntary processes in terms of the decision to participate, the type of process used, and the content of the final agreement. Federal agency experience with ADR has demonstrated that the use of these techniques can result in more timely and more economical resolution of issues, more effective outcomes, and improved relationships.

This ADR program is comprised of two entirely different sub-programs; the first is pre-investigation and the second is post-investigation. The first sub-program, commonly referred to as "Early ADR,” is offered prior to the initiation of an investigation by the NRC’s Office of Investigations (OI).  Early ADR is available to allegers and their employers for resolving allegations of discrimination only.  The second sub-program, commonly referred to as “Post-Investigation ADR,” is offered at three stages after the completion of an investigation by OI.  Post-Investigation ADR is available to licensees (including contractors and employees) and the NRC for resolving wrongdoing cases where the NRC has concluded that enforcement may be warranted.  For additional information, see our simplified flow chart PDF Icon of the ADR Program and our frequently asked questions about the program.

On February 25. 2013, the NRC issued an enforcement guidance memorandum (EGM-13-001) to expand the scope of use of post-investigation alternative dispute resolution (ADR) for a 1-year pilot period. Currently the post-investigation ADR program is limited to discrimination and other wrongdoing cases after the Office of Investigations has completed an investigation. The pilot program expands the scope of post-investigation ADR to include all escalated non-willful (traditional) enforcement cases with proposed civil penalties and does not include violations associated with findings assessed through the Reactor Oversight Process (ROP).

To top of page

Page Last Reviewed/Updated Friday, June 06, 2014