Background on the Integrated Source Management Portfolio (ISMP)
The terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, heightened the Nation's concern regarding the use of radioactive materials for malevolent purposes. The potential for such an attack has been of particular concern because of the widespread use of radioactive materials (often contained in sealed sources) in the United States and abroad by industry, hospitals, and academic institutions. To address these concerns, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) implemented the Integrated Source Management Portfolio (ISMP). A major impetus for this project is the need to control radioactive materials that could be used in a radiological dispersal device (RDD) or "dirty bomb" — a conventional explosive that carries radioactive materials and releases them on detonation.
In late 2006 and early 2007, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) conducted a test on the NRC’s controls governing the issuance of licenses to possess certain types of radioactive materials, as well as the enforcement of possession limits on the quantities of those materials. Subsequently, GAO reported that they were able to obtain radioactive materials licenses for two fabricated companies, modify the licenses to increase the possession limits, and use the augmented licenses to receive quotes for purchasing radioactive materials from legitimate licensees.
On July 12, 2007, the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations (PSI), conducted a hearing in response to the GAO's report. The committee suggested that the NRC should consider establishing a web-based licensing (verification) system that would allow suppliers to validate purchaser licenses and the authorized radioactive material quantity that a purchaser could obtain. Congress, GAO, and the NRC deemed this a necessary and urgent information technology (IT) initiative to protect the Nation from the threat of the malevolent use of radioactive materials.
In an effort to better track transactions involving radioactive materials, the NRC developed a comprehensive Action Plan outlining a number of specific steps to address the concerns raised by the GAO report and in the Senate Committee hearing. This plan consists of a portfolio of automated tools for credential tracking (license and certificate), inspection tracking, item tracking (devices and sources), event tracking, license verification, and financial interfacing. This portfolio includes:
- National Source Tracking System (NSTS), deployed in December 2008, provides an up-to-date accounting of all Category 1 and Category 2 sources possessed by all NRC and Agreement State licensees.
- Web-Based Licensing (WBL) System, deployed in August 2012, provides an up-to-date repository of all licenses nationwide, a web-based license system for NRC licensees, and an avenue for Agreement States to use the same licensing and information platform as the NRC.
- License Verification System (LVS), deployed in May 2013, is an integrated service that brokers information stored in WBL and NSTS to confirm that (1) a license is valid and accurate, (2) a licensee is authorized to acquire quantities and types of radioactive materials, and (3) the licensee's Category 1 or 2 inventories do not exceed the possession limits.