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The Role of the Office of Investigations
OI develops policy, procedures, and quality control standards for the conduct of all NRC investigations of alleged wrongdoing by licensees, certificate holders, permittees, or applicants; by contractors or vendors of such entities; or by employees of the foregoing entities. OI conducts and supervises investigations within the scope of NRC authority except those of NRC employees and NRC contractors; assures the quality of investigations; maintains current awareness of inquiries and inspections by NRC offices to identify the need for formal investigations; keeps the Commission and involved NRC Offices currently apprized of matters under investigation as they affect public health and safety, common defense and security, or environmental quality; maintains liaison with other agencies and organizations to ensure the timely exchange of information of mutual interest; makes appropriate referrals to the Department of Justice (DOJ) as provided in the Memorandum of Understanding between the two agencies effective November 23, 1988, 53 FR 50317; and assists the NRC staff in pursuing enforcement options and DOJ in prosecution of criminal violations.
OI may commence appropriate investigative activity when a matter is brought to the attention of OI indicating that wrongdoing is alleged to have been committed by a person or entity within NRC jurisdiction. Investigations may also be conducted of any matter within NRC jurisdiction that the Commission desires to be investigated.
The Role of the OI Special Agent
The role of the OI Special Agent differs somewhat from that of traditional law enforcement investigators due to the combined responsibilities that are associated with regulatory and criminal law. OI Special Agents are required to apply conventional investigative techniques as well as the laws of evidence throughout an investigation. At times, a member of the NRC's technical staff may be called upon to participate as part of the investigative team to address complex technical issues and/or safety concerns associated with the nuclear industry which may arise during an investigation.
OI investigations are initiated after information concerning potential wrongdoing has been received by the NRC either through an allegation from sources external to the NRC or as a result of inspections performed by agency personnel. The special agent is then assigned to recognize, locate, develop and present evidence that will reconstruct events in a manner that meets requirements for presentation in agency proceedings.
In a typical case, the special agent will obtain preliminary information regarding the incident or allegation. The special agent will then seek assistance from NRC Regional or HQ staff to obtain a thorough understanding of technical issues, legal issues and regulatory requirements that are associated with the case. The special agent will develop an investigative plan that is primarily composed of witness interviews, an extensive review of pertinent documents and the collection of evidence. The special agent will then prepare a Report of Investigation that provides a clear and detailed narrative of the event. The Report of Investigation will be utilized in reviews that are initiated by the NRC and if warranted, DOJ. The special agent continues to support the investigation as it moves through various civil and criminal enforcement processes.
Authority and Jurisdiction
The Commission has delegated to the Director of OI the authority to take the necessary steps to accomplish the OI mission, as described in Title 10 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Part 1, Section 1.36 (1998). See Section 161(c) of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, as amended (42 U.S.C. 2201 (c)); and Section 206 of the Energy Reorganization Act of 1974 (42 U.S.C. 5846). OI investigative jurisdiction extends to the investigation of alleged wrongdoing by licensees, certificate holders, permittees, or applicants, by contractors, subcontractors, and vendors of such entities, and/or by management, supervisory, and other employed personnel of such entities who may have committed violations of the Atomic Energy Act, the Energy Reorganization Act, and rules, orders, and license conditions issued by the Commission thereunder.
This report provides the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission with an overview of the Office of Investigations' (OI's) activities, mission, and purpose, along with the framework of case inventory with highlights of significant cases that OI completed during fiscal year 2020 (see Staff Requirements Memorandum COMJC-89-8, dated June 30, 1989). This is the 33rd OI annual report.