The NRC is on a transformation journey to become a modern, risk-informed regulator. To achieve our vision, being riskSMART is about how we will continue to use risk information, across all of our regulatory programs, to make sound decisions.
On this page:
Risk-Informing Our Work
The NRC has a 30+ year history of risk-informing regulatory activities. During this 30-year history, we have continuously improved how we use risk information to make better informed decisions to meet our important safety and security mission. As the nuclear industry continues to evolve, we must keep pace with the changes in order to fulfill our mission.
The Be riskSMART initiative team developed a holistic, high-level framework that gives staff confidence to consistently apply and communicate risk information for all NRC decisions without compromising our mission. The framework is a common language tool to internally align staff to the various risk information used across our corporate, technical, and legal programs. The framework ensures staff’s basic understanding of how risk information is applied across our different program areas and allows us to effectively communicate how we use risk information to make sound regulatory decisions. The Be riskSMART framework includes guidance and steps for identifying and managing risk information (for issues where there is no pre-determined answer in a law, policy, or standard); performance metrics for how well we are considering risk information; and training to ensure a common understanding of how risk information is applied across our program areas. NUREG/KM-0016 provides detailed guidance on using the Be riskSMART framework and contains case studies from across a series of disciplines.
The figure below summarizes the key steps of the Be riskSMART framework:
Summary of the Be riskSMART risk-informed decision-making framework
- Be... clear about the problem;
- Spot... what can go wrong or right?, what are the consequences?, and how likely is it?;
- Manage... what you can;
- Act... on a decision;
- Realize... the result, and
- Teach... others what you learned.
The arrow illustrated under the Be riskSMART logo represents the prompt re-evaluation of a decision to determine if conditions have changed or new information is available.
Behind-the-Scenes: Be riskSMART Team
If you want to learn more about the Be riskSMART Team and what they have accomplished, check out this video.
Be riskSMART Training: Enhancing NRC Staff Use to Implement Our Mission
A major transformation goal as the NRC strives to become a modern, risk-informed regulator is ensuring that all of our staff understand how the Be riskSMART framework can be applied across all of our program areas to enhance our risk-informed decision-making. The Be riskSMART team developed a training course to help NRC staff enhance its use of the Be riskSMART framework to implement our mission. The training course focuses on the concept of risk and how people perceive the benefits and drawbacks involved in making risk-related decisions; explains the steps in the Be riskSMART framework; provides a common language platform to facilitate discussions about risk, across all disciplines; and provides some specific examples of how the Be riskSMART framework can be used to evaluate issues in our technical, legal, and corporate areas.
Behind-the-Scenes: Be riskSMART Training
If you would like to see this training, check out, "Be riskSMART: A Tool for Everyone".
Be riskSMART Case Studies
You may be wondering if after all of our efforts to develop the Be riskSMART decision-making framework, whether it is actually being used to make better, more risk-informed decisions. The answer to that question is…absolutely!
During the COVID-19 public health emergency, we took a critical look at some of our regulatory processes and applied risk concepts to provide regulatory relief to our licensees. Focusing on safety, we provided temporary flexibilities under some of our regulations. We continue to engage with licensees to better understand COVID-19 impacts to their facilities and workforce. We also continue to engage with other stakeholders, such as the Agreement States, to ensure implementation of our important safety and security missions. With the Be riskSMART framework in place during the public health emergency, we were able to make more informed decisions, more quickly, with a greater level of transparency. For more information on NRC actions during the public health emergency, visit the NRC COVID-19 Update page.
Below, are just a few examples of how the NRC has used the Be riskSMART framework to improve our regulatory decision-making:
- Commercial Nuclear Power Reactors: We streamlined how we evaluate reactor issues of low safety significance. The application of the Be riskSMART framework to this new evaluation process confirmed that we had developed an improved and more timely decision-making strategy. We also shared this new process with our licensees so that they were aware of the improvements we were making. As a result, more time and resources are now available for pursuing issues that are more important to satisfying the NRC’s mission.
- Nuclear Materials: NRC staff used the Be riskSMART framework to evaluate the release of dogs that had been administered nuclear medicine for the treatment of osteoarthritis. The NRC staff used a streamlined review process to evaluate a single procedure that could be used by multiple licensees for animal release, to ensure efficiency in reviews and consistency among veterinary licensees.
- Corporate Support: The NRC staff used the Be riskSMART framework to re-organize and manage the reduction of some of our headquarters office floor space to meet new federal guidelines. Using the steps in the framework, the staff streamlined our existing processes to meet tight deadlines.
Behind-the-Scenes: Be riskSMART Application by NRC Staff
If you would like to hear how NRC staff have applied the Be riskSMART framework, check out these videos:
The NRC is enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of agency work processes, such as document production and concurrence through the Process Simplification transformation initiative. The NRC is looking to make our day-to-day work more efficient and effective by enhancing guidance and instructions for job-related tasks, streamlining workflows, and encouraging the use of modern information technology. To date, improvements have been identified and implemented in the document development and concurrence processes and communications, and new procedures have been issued to address these process improvements. Since implementing the new procedures, we have gained early buy-in and alignment on key decision areas. This has reduced our review and concurrence process. This reduction has allowed for greater transparency and communication regarding key decisions. Ultimately, gaining early buy-in and alignment leads to better informed decisions and outcomes in how we implement our important safety and security mission for the American people.
Behind-the-Scenes: Process Simplification Team
If you want to learn more about the Process Simplification Team and what they have accomplished, check out this video.
See below to learn more about the NRC's transformation journey and focus areas.
Page Last Reviewed/Updated Monday, April 11, 2022