Preparation and Scheduling of Operator Licensing Examinations

WASHINGTON, D.C. 20555-0001

August 20, 1999

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All holders of operating licenses for nuclear power reactors, except those who have permanently ceased operations and have certified that fuel has been permanently removed from the reactor vessel.


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The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is issuing this administrative letter to request addressees to submit, on a voluntary basis, information pertaining to their proposed site-specific operator licensing examination schedule and the estimated number of applicants planning to take those examinations and the NRC's generic fundamentals examinations (GFEs). This information will help the NRC plan the use of its resources. Because this request is strictly voluntary, no specific action or written response is required.


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Description of Circumstances

On August 7, 1997, the NRC published a notice in the Federal Register (62 FR 42426) proposing to amend 10 CFR Part 55, "Operators' Licenses," to require all power reactor facility licensees to prepare, proctor, and grade the written examinations required by §55.41 and §55.43 and to prepare the operating tests required by §55.45. Upon further review, the NRC concluded that such a requirement could be considered a backfit, so the final rule, which was published in the Federal Register on April 23, 1999 (64 FR 19868), was revised to allow, rather than require, power reactor facility licensees to prepare their own examinations and tests. Those facility licensees that elect not to prepare their own examinations and tests must request the NRC to prepare them.


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The two modes of examination development (by the facility or the NRC) require significantly different resource commitments on the part of the NRC staff. On the basis of its experience since beginning the examination pilot and transition program in 1995, the NRC has determined that it can review, approve, administer, and document a facility-prepared examination in approximately half the time that it takes to prepare, administer, and document an examination. Year-to-year fluctuations in the total number of examinations further complicate the NRC's budgeting and scheduling activities.


Consequently, the NRC has decided to resume collecting data on power reactor facility licensees' initial operator licensing examination needs, including an estimate of the number of applicants to be examined and the facility licensees' intentions regarding the preparation of the examination. NRC Form 536 has been revised to accommodate the collection of this data. The NRC expects to solicit updated estimates on an annual basis through its generic communications program. The NRC regional offices will continue to coordinate specific examination dates with the training managers of affected licensees.

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Requested Information

Using Attachment 1 (NRC Form 536 [July 1999], "Operator Licensing Examination Data"), please provide the following information for each of your power reactor facilities:


A.  Proposed Examination Preparation Schedule: Please estimate the number of examinations you intend to prepare during calendar years (CYs) 2000 through 2003. The NRC will assume that each examination includes the required outline, written examination(s), and operating test(s), unless otherwise specified (shared examination development is permitted and should be coordinated with the appropriate NRC regional office).
B.  Initial Operator License Examinations: For each desired examination, please estimate the number of applicants to be tested and enter the proposed primary and alternate dates of the examination. If you are requesting more than one examination per calendar year, please split the applicable column or use additional forms, as necessary, to cover all the examinations through CY 2003.
C.  Proposed Generic Fundamentals Examination Schedule: Please estimate the number of candidates that plan to take the GFE in CYs 2000 and 2001.
These estimates will help the NRC budget and schedule the use of its resources. Because this request is strictly voluntary, no specific action or written response is required.
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Voluntary Response Requested

All addressees are requested to submit voluntarily, within 30 days of receipt of this administrative letter, a response containing the information requested above. The response should be directed to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, ATTN:  Document Control Desk, Washington, D.C. 20555-0001, and a copy of the response should be sent to the applicable regional office.


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Paperwork Reduction Act Statement

The voluntary information collections contained in this request are covered by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) clearance number 3150-0131, which expires on July 31, 2002. The public reporting burden for this voluntary information collection (NRC Form 536) is estimated to average 1 hour per response, including the time for reviewing instructions, searching existing data sources, gathering and maintaining the data needed, and completing and reviewing the information collection. Send comments regarding this burden estimate to the Records Management Branch (T-6 F33), U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, D.C. 20555-0001, or by Internet electronic mail to <> and to the Desk Officer, Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, NEOB-10202 (3150-0131), Office of Management and Budget, Washington, D.C. 20503.


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Public Protection Notification

If a means used to impose an information collection does not display a currently valid OMB control number, the NRC may not conduct or sponsor, and a person is not required to respond to, the information collection.


This administrative letter requires no specific action or written response. If you have any questions about this letter, please contact one of the technical contacts listed below or the appropriate Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation Project Manager.

  Original signed by
James E. Lyons FOR

Ledyard B. Marsh, Chief
Events Assessment, Generic Communications and Non-Power Reactors Branch
Division of Regulatory Improvement Programs
Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation

Technical Contacts:

David C. Trimble, NRR
E-mail: <>

Richard J. Conte, RI
E-mail: <>

John L. Pellet, RIV
E-mail: <>

Harold O. Christensen, RII
E-mail: <>

David E. Hills, RIII
E-mail: <>

Attachments: 1. NRC Form 536, "Operator Licensing Examination Data"
2. List of Recently Issued NRC Administrative Letters

(NUDOCS Accession Number 9908050025)

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