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OMB Federal Register Notice - Vol. 67, Num. 190


[Federal Register: October 1, 2002 (Volume 67, Number 190)]
[Notices]
[Page 61695-61699]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:fr01oc02-110]

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NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION


NRC Information Quality Guidelines

AGENCY: Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

ACTION: Publication of NRC Information Quality Guidelines.

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SUMMARY: The NRC Information Quality Guidelines contain the
Commission's policy and procedures for ensuring the quality of
information before it is disseminated to the public. It also contains
the procedures by which an affected person may obtain correction of
information that does not comply with the guidelines.

DATES: The NRC Information Quality Guidelines are effective October 1,
2002.

ADDRESSES: Information Correction Requests may be mailed to the
Information Quality Coordinator, Office of the Chief Information
Officer, Mail Stop: T6-D8, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission,
Washington, DC 20555-0001, e-mailed to infoquality@nrc.gov, or faxed to
301-415-5130. Information Correction Requests may also be submitted at
the NRC Web site information quality comment form that is accessible
from NRC's ``Contact Us'' Web page (http://www.nrc.gov/public-involve/
info-quality/contactus.html). Information Correction Requests may be
delivered to the Information Quality Coordinator, Two White Flint
North, 11545 Rockville Pike, Rockville, Maryland, between 7:30 a.m. and
4:15 p.m. on Federal workdays.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Phillip Ray, Office of the Chief
Information Officer, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC
20555-0001; telephone: 301-415-2972 or by Internet electronic mail at
infoquality@nrc.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

OMB and Agency Responsibilities

    Section 515(a) of the Treasury and General Government
Appropriations Act, FY 2001 (Pub. L. 106-554), directed the Director,
Office of Management and Budget (OMB), to issue guidelines that provide
policy and procedural guidance to Federal agencies for ensuring and
maximizing the quality, objectivity, utility, and integrity of
information (including statistical information) disseminated by Federal
agencies in fulfillment of the purposes and provisions of the Paperwork
Reduction Act. OMB issued its final guidelines on September 28, 2001.
Subsequent guidance was issued by OMB on February 22, 2002 (67 FR
8452). These guidelines require agencies subject to the Paperwork
Reduction Act to publish in the Federal Register a notice of
availability of the final Information Quality Guidelines and post the
guidelines on the agency's public Web Site by October 1, 2002. Also,
these agencies will:
    1. Ensure that information covered by these guidelines and
disseminated for the first time on or after this date has undergone
reviews for quality.
    2. On January 1, 2004, and each January 1 thereafter, the agencies
will submit to the Director of OMB a report on the number and nature of
requests received regarding compliance with these OMB guidelines and
the resolution of requests received.

NRC Information Quality Guidelines

    The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is committed to
ensuring the quality of all information that it relies on or
disseminates. The NRC's policies and practices are designed to ensure
that the agency establishes and maintains an appropriate level of
quality commensurate with the nature of the information. Thus, the most
influential scientific, financial, and statistical data are subject to
the most rigorous quality standards. The NRC will correct information
that does not meet its guidelines or those of OMB based on the
significance and impact of the correction. The NRC Information Quality
Guidelines are general statements of agency policy and are not legally
binding on the agency or on affected persons.

Scope of Information Subject to These Guidelines

    Because of the importance of openness and transparency, the NRC
routinely makes available to the public the majority of its regulatory
documents, information about its decision making processes, and the
standards used to analyze information submitted by the regulated
community. OMB's guidelines require the NRC to apply information
quality standards only to a subset of this information; however, the
NRC is committed to ensuring the quality of all of the information it
disseminates, whether or not it is specifically covered by these
guidelines. In addition, the NRC has many existing processes by which
the public may comment on agency information. The agency will continue
to use these processes to respond to comments and requests, regardless
of whether they are specifically covered by these guidelines.
    The agency's information quality reviews apply to NRC information
that is publicly disseminated for the first time on or after October 1,
2002. The fact that an information product is already on NRC's Website
or in the Public Document Room prior to October 1, 2002, and is still
maintained by NRC (e.g., in NRC's files, in publications that NRC
continues to distribute on its Website), does not make the information
subject to these guidelines or to the request for correction process if
it falls within the archival records exemption. Information
disseminated prior to October 1, 2002, is subject to the correction and
appeal process should the information be questioned and the requester
can demonstrate that the challenged data, which is publicly available
through agency Websites or other means, serves agency program
responsibilities and/or is relied upon by the public as official
government data. Additionally, if specific information has previously
been disseminated and is not

[[Page 61696]]

covered by these guidelines, that information may still be subject to
the NRC Information Quality Guidelines during a post October 1, 2002,
dissemination of the information in which NRC either adopts, endorses
or uses the information to formulate or support a regulation, guidance,
or other Agency decision or position.

Information Subject to These Guidelines

    These guidelines apply to print and electronic versions of agency
information. The types of NRC information covered by the guidelines
include, but are not limited to, the following:
    [sbull] Rulemakings.
    [sbull] Inspection reports.
    [sbull] Findings of the reactor oversight process.
    [sbull] Regulatory guides and other guidance to licensees.
    [sbull] Generic communications to licensees, including information
notices, generic letters, bulletins, and others.
    [sbull] Technical reports.
    [sbull] Safety Evaluations and Safety Evaluation Reports.
    [sbull] Information that other parties provide to the NRC upon
which the NRC relies or which the NRC disseminates.

Information Not Subject to These Guidelines

    On the basis of the OMB guidelines, the types of NRC information
exempt from the guidelines include, but are not limited to, the
following:
    [sbull] Information products intended to be limited to the
allegations process, public filings, subpoenas, records compiled for
law enforcement purposes or that are involved in adjudicative
processes.
    [sbull] Non-scientific and/or non-statistical general, procedural,
or organizational information, which is prepared for NRC management and
operation, and is not primarily intended for public dissemination.
    [sbull] Information that is neither initiated nor sponsored by the
NRC and is not relied upon or disseminated by the NRC.
    [sbull] Information that expresses opinions, rather than formal
agency views.
    [sbull] Information that is intended to be limited to intra-agency
use.
    [sbull] Shared government information or information that is
intended to be limited to inter-agency use.
    [sbull] Information that is prepared for dissemination to agency
employees, contractors, or grantees.
    [sbull] Agency correspondence that is not primarily intended for
public dissemination, but is made publicly available solely to enable
the public to be aware of the NRC's interactions with individuals,
including applicants, licensees, and others who make formal requests to
the agency.
    [sbull] Agency press releases, fact sheets, press conferences, or
similar communications (in any medium) that announce, support the
announcement, or give public notice of information that the NRC has
disseminated elsewhere.
    [sbull] Congressional testimony and other submissions to Congress
containing information that the NRC has previously disseminated to the
public.
    [sbull] Agency speeches.
    [sbull] Publications of individual employees, grantees, and
contractors, in which the information is published in the same manner
used by academic colleagues, and which include an appropriate
disclaimer that the views expressed are the individual's or entities'
own and do not reflect the views of the NRC.
    [sbull] Archival records.
    [sbull] Trade secrets, intellectual property, classified,
restricted, unclassified safeguards, proprietary, sensitive homeland
security, privacy, and other information not subject to disclosure
under the Freedom of Information Act.
    [sbull] Responses to requests made under the Freedom of Information
Act, the Privacy Act, the Federal Advisory Committee Act, or similar
laws.
    [sbull] Interpretations of data or information, or requests to de-
publish information.

Applicability to Proposed Rulemaking and Other Public Comment Processes

    The correction and appeal process that will address data quality
challenges normally will not apply to information disseminated by the
NRC through a comprehensive public comment process, e.g., Federal
Register notices of proposed rulemakings, regulatory analyses, requests
for comments on information collections subject to the Paperwork
Reduction Act, environmental impact statements, and other documents for
which NRC solicits public comments. Persons questioning the quality of
information disseminated in those documents, or documents referenced or
relied upon in those documents, should submit comments as directed in
the Federal Register or other notices requesting public comment on the
given document.
    The NRC will use its existing processes for responding to public
comments in addressing the request for correction, and will describe
the actions it has taken with regard to the request in the Federal
Register notice of the final agency rule, regulatory analysis, or other
final action. In cases where the agency disseminates a study, analysis,
or other information prior to the final agency action or information
product, ICRs will be considered prior to the final agency action or
information product in those cases where the agency has determined that
an earlier response would not unduly delay issuance of the agency
action or information product and the requester has shown a reasonable
likelihood of suffering actual harm from the agency's dissemination if
the agency does not resolve the ICR prior to the final agency action or
information product.

Waiver of Standards Under Urgent Conditions

    The NRC's information quality standards may be temporarily waived
for information that is disseminated under urgent situations. The NRC
will consider ``urgent situations'' to include emergency conditions at
licensed facilities, as well as imminent or credible threats to the
public health and safety, the common defense and security, including
homeland security, the environment, and other situations deemed to be
urgent conditions on a case-by-case basis.

NRC Quality Standards

    Information, including third-party information, that the NRC relies
on or disseminates must meet both the NRC Information Quality Standards
and OMB Information Quality Guidelines in order to ensure and maximize
information quality. These information quality standards also apply to
the creation, collection, acquisition, and maintenance of information
by the NRC. The NRC will ensure that its draft information collection
packages submitted for OMB approval will result in the information
being collected, maintained, and used in a manner that is consistent
with NRC and OMB information quality guidelines. Agency policies and
procedures will ensure that the NRC meets and maintains these
standards.
    The NRC has set information quality as a measure of agency
performance. The NRC will meet the information quality criteria for
utility, integrity, and objectivity, as defined in the OMB and NRC
guidelines. The following NRC standards expound on how the NRC will
apply the OMB criteria in its regulatory environment. The degree of
rigor of the pre-dissemination reviews will be commensurate with the
nature and significance of the information.
    The NRC will impose the highest level of quality on influential
scientific,

[[Page 61697]]

financial, or statistical information, which the agency defines as
information that forms the technical basis for a substantive rulemaking
that has substantial impact on an industry. The NRC may also deem other
types of information as ``influential'' under Section 515(a) of Public
Law 106-554 of the Treasury and General Appropriations Act, on a case-
by-case basis. In determining what constitutes influential scientific,
financial, or statistical information, the NRC considers two principal
factors. First, the information may have a clear and substantial impact
that has a high probability of occurring. Second, the information may
impact regulatory decisions affecting a broad class of applicants or
licensees. (Although information contained in a regulatory decision for
an individual applicant or licensee may have substantial impact, it is
limited in its breadth, therefore may not be deemed ``influential'' for
the purposes of these guidelines.)
    The NRC applies the most rigorous procedures to ensure the quality
of such ``influential'' information. The NRC achieves the highest level
of quality by adherence to procedures that ensure utility, integrity,
and objectivity. The reproducibility of original and supporting data
for influential scientific, financial, or statistical information will
be consistent with commonly accepted scientific, financial, or
statistical standards. When reproducibility is not achievable through
public access because of confidentiality protection or compelling
interests, analytical results will receive especially rigorous reviews.
The staff will describe the specific reviews, as well as the specific
data sources, quantitative methods, and assumptions used.
    The following provides a definition of the elements of information
quality (utility, integrity, and objectivity) and a description how the
NRC ensures information quality.
    Utility is the usefulness of the information to its intended users.
To ensure information utility, the NRC will:
    [sbull] Adhere to NRC policy on the dissemination of information to
the public, which clearly specifies what is to be made available to the
public and when it should be available for public release.
    [sbull] Make information associated with the agency regulatory
processes and decisions public unless release is restricted because,
for example, a given regulatory process or decision contains classified
national security information, safeguards information, proprietary
information, sensitive homeland security information, or other
information that is protected from disclosure under the Freedom of
Information Act.
    [sbull] Use feedback mechanisms at the NRC's Web site to request
public comments on what information the NRC disseminates and how it is
disseminated.
    [sbull] Request public comments on individual documents and hold
public meetings, as appropriate, to solicit public comments.
    [sbull] Assist the public in quickly and conveniently locating the
information they are seeking through the NRC's Public Document Room, or
its Web site.
    Integrity is the security of information from unauthorized access
or revision to ensure that the information is not compromised through
corruption or falsification. To ensure information integrity, the NRC
will adhere to agency policies for personnel security, computer
security, information security, and records management, which include
the following key components:
    [sbull] Systems development and life cycle management policies
require that computer systems must be designed and tested to prevent
inadvertent or deliberate alteration and ensure appropriate access
controls.
    [sbull] Computer and personnel security policies ensure that
employees and contractors who have access to electronic information and
associated computer systems are screened for trustworthiness and
assigned the appropriate level of access.
    [sbull] Records management policies require that agency records
must be properly maintained and protected. In particular, the NRC's
electronic records management system (i.e., Agencywide Documents Access
and Management System, (ADAMS)) is designed to ensure that documents
that are disseminated to the public are protected from alteration or
falsification.
    Objectivity involves two distinct elements, including presentation
and substance. Information must be presented in a manner that is
accurate, clear, complete, and unbiased. In addition, the substance of
the information presented must be accurate, reliable, and unbiased. To
ensure information objectivity, the NRC will:
    [sbull] Achieve accuracy and completeness in the following ways:
    [sbull] Provide formal review of and concurrence with all
information disseminated, including rulemaking documents, inspection
reports, technical reports, generic communications, and all other
agency documents covered by these guidelines.
    [sbull] Encourage peer review of NRC research products. The primary
objective of the peer review is to judge the technical adequacy of the
research and to bring the widest and best knowledge to bear on the
quality of research products. The NRC has adopted criteria for the
selection of peer reviewers and the performance of peer reviews that
are consistent with OMB guidelines.
    [sbull] Adhere to Quality Management Control standards prior to
disseminating information at the NRC's public Web site.
    [sbull] Ensure that information is reliable and unbiased in the
following ways:
    [sbull] Apply sound statistical and research methods to generate
data and analytical results for scientific and statistical information.
    [sbull] Use peer reviews, consistent with OMB guidelines, of
agency-sponsored research that is relied upon. Where information has
been subjected to formal, independent, external peer review, the
information may generally be presumed to be of acceptable objectivity.
However, this presumption is rebuttable based on a persuasive showing
in a particular instance.
    [sbull] Use reviews of agency information by independent advisory
committees, as appropriate, including the Advisory Committee on Reactor
Safeguards (ACRS), the Advisory Committee on Nuclear Waste (ACNW), and
the Advisory Committee on the Medical Uses of Isotopes (ACMUI).
    [sbull] Use reviews by the Committee to Review Generic Requirements
(CRGR), as appropriate, for information and related analyses with
generic implications.
    [sbull] Use reviews by Agreement States, as appropriate, for
matters pertaining to the regulation of nuclear materials.
    [sbull] Provide opportunities for the public and States to comment
on rulemakings, Commission policy statements, regulatory guides, and
other information products, as appropriate.
    [sbull] Hold public meetings to seek public views and solicit
public comments through the NRC's Website and Federal Register notices,
as appropriate.
    [sbull] Comply with internal policy to ensure unbiased incident
investigation team investigations.
    [sbull] Use reviews of proposed policy decisions by the five-member
Commission.
    Achieve transparency in the following ways:
    [sbull] Include in relevant agency information products
descriptions of the data and methods used to develop the information
product in a way that would make it possible for an independent,
qualified individual or organization to reproduce the results.

[[Page 61698]]

    [sbull] Adhere to NRC policy and guidance overseeing the
performance of regulatory analyses as provided in publicly available
``Regulatory Analysis Guidelines of the U. S. Nuclear Regulatory
Commission,'' NUREG/BR-0058, Rev. 3, and publicly available
``Regulatory Analysis Technical Evaluation Handbook,'' NUREG/BR-0184.
The NRC will perform regulatory analyses that assess uncertainty, in
the context of quantifying risk, and communicate those findings to the
public in a manner that meets the intent of the OMB referenced
information quality standards.
    Achieve clarity in the following ways:
    [sbull] Adhere to the agency's Plain Language Program in written
and electronic products.
    [sbull] Ensure that the all disseminated information receives
appropriate editorial review.
    [sbull] Respond to stakeholder comments on the clarity of proposed
actions.

NRC Administrative Process for the Public to Seek Correction of
Information

(1) What You Must Do If You Are an Affected Person
    Use the following procedure to seek correction, under Section
515(a), of information that does not meet NRC or OMB Information
Quality Guidelines:
    [sbull] Submit your Information Correction Request (ICR) within 60
calendar days of the initial information dissemination or within 60
calendars days of NRC notice of intent to rely, or its reliance, on the
information.
    [sbull] Submit a discussion of why the NRC should consider your ICR
(along with your ICR), if you submit the ICR after 60 calendar days
after the initial information dissemination or after 60 calendars days
after the NRC notice of intent to rely, or its reliance, on the
information.
    [sbull] State that your ICR is submitted in accordance with the
NRC's Information Quality Guidelines.
    [sbull] Include your name, mailing address, fax number, e-mail
address, telephone number, and organizational affiliation, if any. The
NRC needs this information to respond to your ICR and contact you if
necessary.
    [sbull] Describe clearly the information you believe is in error
and requires correction. Include the source of the information (for
example, the name and date of the report or data product), the exact
location of the error (for example, the page, figure, table, or Web
page address), and a detailed description of the information to be
corrected. A copy of the specific information that the ICR covers would
assist the NRC in its review of your ICR.
    [sbull] State specifically why the information should be corrected
and, if possible, recommend specifically how it should be corrected.
    [sbull] Provide a copy of supporting documentary evidence, such as
comparable data or research results on the same topic, or a specific
authoritative source to help in the review of your ICR. If you supply
the documentary evidence by means of a reference, the reference must be
specific enough to allow the NRC to easily locate the information you
identify as the basis for the ICR.
    [sbull] State specifically how you are affected by the information
for which you are seeking correction.
(2) How to Submit Your Request
    You must submit your ICR under these guidelines in writing by mail,
fax, e-mail, or Internet, as follows:
    [sbull] Mail: Information Quality Coordinator, U.S. Nuclear
Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC 20555.
    [sbull] Fax: 301-415-5130.
    [sbull] E-mail: Infoquality@nrc.gov.
    [sbull] Internet: http://www.nrc.gov/public-involve/info-quality/
contactus.html.
(3) What the NRC Will Do With Your Initial Request
    Based on a review of the information you provide, the NRC will take
the following actions:
    [sbull] Perform an acceptance review to confirm that you have
provided the necessary information regarding the ICR for the staff to
review and make a decision.
    [sbull] Submit your ICR for review to an Initial Review Official
(IRO) who is knowledgeable of the subject matter related to your ICR
and who normally will be at the Branch Chief level and, in most cases,
a member of the Senior Executive Service.
    [sbull] Consult with other Federal agencies or NRC staff in
responding to your ICR, as appropriate.
    [sbull] Determine whether an error exists and a correction is
warranted and, if so, what action will be taken.
    [sbull] Notify you as soon as possible within the 45 day period if
the ICR requires more than 45 calendar days to resolve. The NRC will
inform you that more time is required, state the reason why, and
include an estimated decision date.
    [sbull] Notify you of the agency's final decision regarding your
ICR within 45 calendar days by letter, e-mail, or fax. The NRC's
response will explain the findings of the review and any actions that
the NRC will take.
(4) How You May Appeal the NRC Decision in Regard to Your Initial
Request
    Use the following procedure if you wish to appeal the NRC's denial
of your ICR, or if you wish to appeal the decision on the corrective
action:
    [sbull] Submit your appeal within 30 calendar days of receipt of
NRC's notification of denial or notification of the corrective action.
(Only the original requester may appeal the decision.)
    [sbull] Identify clearly the original ICR, and specify the NRC
decision that you are appealing.
    [sbull] Describe clearly the basis for your appeal and how the
response failed to resolve your ICR.
    [sbull] Submit your appeal in accordance with the directions in the
agency's initial response.
(5) What the NRC Will Do With Your Appeal
    Based on a review of the information you provide in the appeal, the
NRC will take the following actions:
    [sbull] Perform an acceptance review to confirm that you have
provided the necessary information regarding the ICR for the staff to
review and make a decision.
    [sbull] Submit your request for review to an Appeal Review Official
(ARO), typically at the Division Director level, who is a member of the
Senior Executive Service and who, in most cases, does not supervise the
IRO responsible for the initial response to the ICR.
    [sbull] Limit the appeal review to the basis of the appeal.
    [sbull] Consult with other Federal agencies or NRC staff in
responding to your appeal, as appropriate.
    [sbull] Determine whether an error exists and a correction is
warranted and, if so, what action will be taken.
    [sbull] Notify you as soon as possible within the 30 day period if
the appeal requires more than 30 calendar days to resolve. The NRC will
inform you that more time is required, state the reason why, and
include an estimated decision date.
    [sbull] Notify you of the agency's final decision regarding your
appeal within 30 calendar days by letter, e-mail, or fax. The NRC's
response will explain the findings of the appeal and any actions that
the NRC will take.
(6) Corrections
    The correction process is designed to address the genuine and valid
needs of affected persons without disrupting agency operations. You
should be aware that you bear the burden of proof with

[[Page 61699]]

respect to both the need for correction and the type of correction
requested. In determining whether to correct information, the NRC may
reject claims made in bad faith or without justification. The NRC is
required to undertake only the degree of correction that it concludes
is appropriate for the nature and timeliness of the information
involved.
    The NRC may base its decisions regarding appropriate corrective
action(s) on such factors as the significance of the asserted error,
the benefits that are likely to be derived from such a correction, the
observation of budget and resource priorities and restraints, and the
agency's more pressing priorities and obligations.
    Subject to applicable laws, the NRC's corrective measures may
include, without limitation, personal contacts via letter or telephone,
form letters, press releases, postings on the NRC's Website, correction
in the next version of a document, or other appropriate methods that
would give affected persons reasonable notice of any corrective actions
made.
    It is the NRC's intent to make corrections within a reasonable time
after the agency has made the determination that a correction is
appropriate. However, the NRC's budget, resources, and priorities, as
well as the complexity of the correction itself, may affect when
corrections are made.
    In cases where the agency disseminates a study, analysis, or other
information prior to the final agency action or information product,
ICRs will be considered prior to the final agency action or information
product in those cases where the agency has determined that an earlier
response would not unduly delay issuance of the agency action or
information product and the requester has shown a reasonable likelihood
of suffering actual harm from the agency's dissemination if the agency
does not resolve the ICR prior to the final agency action or
information product.
    The NRC will continue to process any decision or document that has
had a related ICR unless the NRC decides that the information requires
correction before the process may continue.
    Your request for correction and the correction process will be open
to the public as a commitment to transparency. Your ICR and NRC
responses will be made public through ADAMS. Note: Your personal
privacy information will not be made public.
(7) Annual Report
    The NRC will identify the number and nature of the ICRs received
and their resolution, including an explanation of decisions to deny or
limit corrective actions in its annual fiscal year reports to the OMB.

    Dated at Rockville, Maryland, this 20th day of September 2002.

    For the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Jacqueline E. Silber,
Deputy Chief Information Officer, Office of the Chief Information
Officer.
[FR Doc. 02-24944 Filed 9-30-02; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 7590-01-P

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