NRC Programs Using Alternative Dispute Resolution Techniques

As encouraged by the Administrative Dispute Resolution Act, as amended (ADRA), the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) regularly uses collaborative "roundtable" and facilitated public meetings to discuss rulemaking, policy issues, and environmental impacts of proposed agency actions. In addition, the NRC offers a variety of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Programs that may be used in lieu of litigation to resolve potential disputes. For additional information about NRC programs that involve the use of ADR techniques, see the following topics on this page:

Licensing and Enforcement

In licensing and enforcement proceedings conducted under the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, as amended, the NRC encourages settlement of issues that are proposed for litigation and provides for the use of settlement judges in its rules of practice at Title 10, Section 2.338, of the Code of Federal Regulations (10 CFR 2.338).  While ADR procedures are commonly used in the enforcement proceedings, ADR procedures are also available for use in other proceedings including adjudicatory hearings requested by members of the public on applications to construct or operate advanced nuclear reactors.  The NRC’s processes allow parties to employ various methods of alternate dispute resolution to address issues without the need for litigation.  For more information, send an email to the Hearing Docket at

The NRC's Office of Enforcement uses a voluntary ADR program to address apparent violations, involving discrimination or other wrongdoing. ADR can be used at two distinct stages of the process — namely, before the initiation of an NRC investigation (early ADR) and after the completion of an NRC investigation (enforcement ADR). Early ADR is offered to individuals (and their employers) who contact the NRC and articulate a prima facie case of discrimination. Enforcement ADR involves cases of discrimination or other wrongdoing, in which the NRC staff concludes that further enforcement consideration is warranted. The parties to enforcement ADR are the NRC and the licensee, licensee contractor, or one or more employee(s) of the licensee or contractor. For more information, see Alternative Dispute Resolution in the NRC's Enforcement Program.

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Equal Employment Opportunity

The NRC's Office of Small Business and Civil Rights offers ADR to NRC employees and applicants for employment, as a means of resolving complaints related to equal employment opportunity (EEO) and employment discrimination. As such, ADR supplements (rather than replaces) the NRC's formal Employment Discrimination Complaint Process.

In this context, employees or applicants may request ADR at the pre-complaint stage and/or the formal complaint stage of the discrimination complaint process [i.e., after filing a formal complaint, but prior to requesting an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) hearing]. When ADR is requested, the NRC primarily uses mediation (provided by contractors). For more information, see Alternative Dispute Resolution in the NRC's EEO Program.

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Page Last Reviewed/Updated Friday, February 25, 2022