Background and Purpose for Providing Detailed Review Schedules for Design Certification Applications

Consistent with its goal to be open and transparent in conducting its regulatory functions, the NRC staff is sharing the detailed review schedule information. The NRC staff prepared this "Detailed Review Schedules - Background and Purpose" to facilitate a common understanding of NRC schedules and associated NRC commitments and what should be expected in terms of changes to these schedules.

The NRC staff establishes key milestones for completing each phase of its review of new reactor licensing applications. The NRC staff considers the phase completion milestones for the six phases of the safety review and four phases of the environmental review to be commitments to its stakeholders and posts them on the website for each application. Changes to the phase completion dates are called Level 1 changes in the staff's change management process and require a formal evaluation to be performed. The Director of the Office of New Reactors (NRO) must approve all Level 1 changes.

The link you've clicked on provides a detailed review schedule below the level of the phase completion dates. The detailed review schedule provides chapter and task level information. This schedule is used internally by the NRC staff to plan and monitor progress of the review. The staff is providing the level of detail in this schedule to facilitate coordination between the staff and the applicant on deliverables, coordination among different applicants on related activities, and to allow interested members of the public and other stakeholders to monitor progress of the reviews. Changes to chapter and task level due dates are also controlled by the change management process as either Level 2 or Level 3 changes.

Level 2 changes involve the use of managed reserve in a schedule. Managed reserve, which is a set of work days to which no specific work is assigned, is included in each phase of the review. Managed reserve is used to account for uncertainty in the staff's estimates used to develop the schedule. Use of managed reserve requires the approval of NRO's Resource Management Board.

Level 3 changes involve the use of float at chapter and task level milestones. Float is a project management concept that indicates how much time exists between completion of a specific task and when it would impact the overall schedule. Level 3 changes require approval of the responsible lead project manager level.

In order to ensure that staff resources are appropriately focused on conducting its regulatory functions, the staff would not normally engage in discussions on chapter and task level (that is, Level 2 and 3 changes) due dates in the detailed schedules, beyond coordinating with the applicant on the timing of deliverables. Changes to the schedule at the chapter and task level are expected as the staff adjusts schedules, for example to reflect new information from applicants or revised estimates for completion of staff work. Level 2 and 3 changes are managed without an impact on the overall review schedule.