NRC's Transformation Journey

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has embarked upon a transformation effort to become a modern, risk-informed regulator. The NRC is transforming to better inform decisions and prepare for the future. This transformation effort is supported, in part, by information and data from NRC sponsored research activities, lessons- learned and operating experience, technological developments, and feedback from our stakeholders.

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Why Is Transformation Needed at the NRC?

The NRC has embarked upon a transformation journey to be in the best position to continue meeting our important safety and security mission and to be a good steward of public funds. Transformation will help the NRC keep pace with the highly dynamic, interconnected environment in which we operate, allow the NRC to reduce or eliminate low value activities and be prepared to regulate an industry that is innovative and has new technologies.

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Milestones Along the NRC's Transformation Journey

In October 2018, the NRC began the Futures Assessment effort to ensure we continue to effectively meet our mission in a dynamic and evolving future. The Futures Assessment effort used a scenario planning approach to understand the various ways the NRC's external environment could change, how the NRC could be affected, and steps that the NRC could take to be prepared. The results were published in a report in January 2019, "The Dynamic Futures for NRC Mission Areas." Although the assessment was conducted almost six years ago, the potential future scenarios are relevant today and helps the NRC ensure that we will meet our mission, no matter what lies ahead.

Building on the Futures Assessment, the NRC engaged the staff in a strategic conversation about how to best plan and prepare for the future. The conversation was intended to build internal engagement and tap the collective wisdom of the staff to help shape the NRC's transformation strategy. The conversation was initiated through several approaches including two “Jam Sessions.”

The first-ever NRC Futures Jam was held on June 18-20, 2019. Over the course of three days, more than 73% of the NRC staff signed on to the virtual Jam platform. Using real-time analytics, active facilitation, and subsequent data analysis, the staff mined the 4,000+ comments for themes that became the foundation for the NRC's transformation strategy. The NRC’s transformation strategy is focused on four areas: (1) recruiting, developing, and retaining a strong workforce; (2) improving decision-making through the acceptance of an appropriate level of risk without compromising the NRC’s mission; (3) establishing a culture that embraces innovation; and (4) adopting new and existing information technology resources.

To facilitate the transformation effort and synthesize the information obtained in the Jam session, in October 2019, the Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation (NRR) commissioned the EMBARK Venture Studio organization. EMBARK’s mission is to serve as the NRC’s catalyst for change and is responsible for being an innovation and transformation accelerator across NRC program and corporate offices. EMBARK serves as the agency center of expertise for date collection analytics and visualization to support risk- informed decision- making and is a focal point for leading multi-office initiatives. EMBARK does not have a large permanent staff and is instead staffed by change agents that are sourced throughout the NRC organization. EMBARK’s products that are available for external users include the Risk Informed Process for Exemptions and the Operating Reactor Locator.

Embark Logo with a black background, the words 'EMBARK VENTURE STUDIO' with the 'A' in 'EMBARK' being a multicolored paper airplane.


On June 13-15, 2023, the NRC held Jam 2.0. that built off the progress made since the 2019 NRC Futures Jam. Jam 2.0 focused on the agency’s strategic plan goals: Mission, Organizational Health, and Stakeholder Confidence. Within the strategic plan goals, the transformation areas of Be riskSMART, innovation, our people, and technology use, were highlighted. These strategic plan goals and transformation focus areas are vital to ensuring that the NRC remains a modern, risk-informed regulator. Over the three days, 42% of NRC staff engaged and contributed approximately 4,000 comments to drive progress in our four transformation focus areas.

The Transformation Journey

Infographic of the Transformation Journey

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Defining and Implementing the Vision

The NRC used the insights from the Futures Assessment and Futures Jam to identify four focus areas for achieving the NRC's transformation vision of being a modern, risk-informed regulator.

  • Our People: Maintain an engaged and highly skilled workforce now and in the future.
  • Be riskSMART: Make sound decisions while accepting well-managed risks in decision-making.
  • Using Technology: Use technology to work smarter, including using data analytics to highlight areas for regulatory attention and improvement.
  • Innovation: Be innovators who make timely decisions that consider different viewpoints and fully explored options.

In addition, each of the four focus areas was supported by one or more transformation initiatives. A total of eight (8) agency-wide initiatives were identified as activities that the NRC needed to focus energy and attention to drive transformational change. The initiatives were specific projects, each led by a team of NRC staff, that supported the transformation vision and focus areas. All but one of these initiatives, the Culture initiative, are now complete.

an image with 8 differently colored triangles with writing inside.


From the Jam 2.0, the NRC has identified two new initiatives important to furthering the agency’s progress towards being a modern risk-informed regulator. These initiatives are tied to our Organizational Health strategic goal and the transformation focus area of focus on our people. These two new initiatives focus on improving and strengthening the NRC’s knowledge management and workload management.

The NRC staff provided updates on progress in implementing the transformation initiatives during Commission meetings on October 29, 2019 (Meeting Materials), September 17, 2020 (Meeting Materials), June 22, 2021 (Meeting Materials) and June 1, 2022 (Meeting Materials). The NRC will no longer have separate Commission meetings on progress in implementing transformation activities. Instead, Commission meetings held on NRC programmatic areas will include updates on the progress in implementing transformation activities.

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