Information Notice No. 91-59: Problems with Access Authorization Programs

                                  UNITED STATES
                          NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION
                             WASHINGTON, D.C. 20555

                               September 23, 1991



All holders of operating licenses or construction permits for nuclear power 


The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is issuing this information 
notice to alert addressees to two areas of continuing problems with access 
authoriza-tion programs.  One area involves licensee contractors or 
subcontractors not completing the requirements for background investigations 
or falsifying records; the other involves the improper administration or 
compromise of psychological tests.  It is expected that recipients will 
review the information for appli-cability to their facilities and consider 
actions, as appropriate, to avoid similar problems.  However, suggestions 
contained in this information notice are not NRC requirements; therefore, no 
specific action or written response is required.

Description of Circumstances

In recent months, the NRC has received numerous reports and allegations that 
some licensee contractors or subcontractors have certified individuals as 
satisfactorily meeting the licensee's requirements for background investiga-
tions without completing all required residence, employment, education, or 
reference checks.  One contractor certified to a licensee that an employee 
was suitable for unescorted site access before receiving a response to an 
investi-gative inquiry initiated in accordance with the licensee's approved 
security plan.  The contractor subsequently received derogatory information 
in response to the inquiry that would have led to the denial of access but 
did not act upon the information.  The licensee discovered the information 
when reviewing the contractor's screening files and immediately suspended 
the employee's unescorted access.  The access was later withdrawn because of 
the information.  This event and similar problems in the past have prompted 
the licensee to require copies of all contractor and subcontractor 
background investigations and to perform the adjudication reviews to 
determine access suitability instead of accepting the contractors' or 
subcontractors' determinations.  Similar screening problems have prompted 
other licensees to require copies of all derogatory information developed 
from background investigations conducted by their contractors or 

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The NRC has also recently received numerous reports concerning licensee con-
tractors or subcontractors who have provided false certification regarding 
the length of time individuals had been employed.  In one case, a union 
business agent (BA) certified to a licensee that certain individuals had 
been members of the union for 3 years and, to the best of the BA's 
knowledge, had shown no adverse character traits.  The certification 
qualified the individuals for an exemption from background screening 
requirements as set forth in the licensee's approved security plan because 
of the BA's personal knowledge of the individ-uals resulting from the length 
of union membership.  The licensee subsequently discovered that the BA had 
falsified the certification.  None of the individuals had been members of 
the union for 3 years, and in fact, were not even members of the BA's union 

Licensees identified some of these problems when auditing contractor or sub-
contractor programs.  One effective audit technique used was telephone 
contact with the applicant's previous employers and references to verify 
information supplied by the contractor or subcontractor doing the screening.

In addition to receiving reports of problems with background investigations, 
the NRC has received allegations that some licensee contractors and 
subcontractors have improperly administered or deliberately compromised 
psychological tests, or have falsified the results of such tests.  Some of 
the allegations were similar to cases discussed in IN 88-91, "Improper 
Administration and Control of Psychological Tests," in that individuals 
allegedly completed tests in unproc-tored settings.  In one case, an 
individual allegedly took a psychological test for employment at a nuclear 
facility in a motel room in which someone called out the "correct" answers 
to produce the desired profile.  It was also alleged that some falsification 
of test results occurred because contractors exerted pressure on 
subcontractors to have certain numbers of craft workers certified as 
acceptable by certain dates for licensees during reactor outages.  


The NRC has issued IE Circular 78-17, "Inadequate Guard 
Training/Qualification and Falsified Training Records," October 13, 1978; IE 
Circular 79-03, "Inade-quate Guard Training/Qualification and Falsified 
Records," February 23, 1979; Information Notice (IN) 82-07, "Inadequate 
Security Screening Programs," March 16, 1982; IN 83-15, "Falsified 
Pre-Employment Screening Records," March 23, 1983; IN 87-64, "Conviction for 
Falsification of Security Training Records," December 22, 1987; IN 88-26, 
"Falsified Pre-Employment Screening Records," May 16, 1988; and IN 88-91, 
"Improper Administration and Control of Psychological Tests," November 22, 
1988.  These documents alerted addressees 

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to the possibility that contractors might submit falsified records to meet 
licensees' commitments to the NRC, identified weaknesses in the 
administration and control of psychological tests used in personnel 
screening programs, and reminded licensees of the importance of adequate 
program audits. 

On April 25, 1991, the NRC published Section 73.56 of Title 10 of the Code 
of Federal Regulations (10 CFR 73.56), "Personnel Access Authorization 
Requirements for Nuclear Power Plants" (Access Authorization Rule) to 
provide increased assurance that individuals granted unescorted access to 
protected and vital areas are trustworthy and reliable and do not pose a 
threat to commit radiological sabotage.  Under the provisions of 10 CFR 
73.56(a)(4), licensees may accept an access authorization program, or part 
of a program, used by its contractors or vendors for their employees 
provided it meets the rule requirements.  Clear specification of screening 
requirements in the work contract is an effective method to safeguard 
against inadequate access authorization programs.  Under the provisions of 
10 CFR 73.56(g)(2), each licensee who accepts the access authorization 
program of a contractor or vendor must audit the program every 12 months to 
ensure that the requirements of the Access Authorization Rule, as specified 
in their approved security plan, are met.  Some licensees have committed to 
ensuring nuclear security expertise on their audit and assessment teams.  

Failure to ensure that a proper access authorization program is conducted 
could compromise nuclear safety.  The NRC can take enforcement action in 
cases in which licensees fail, whether intentionally or unintentionally, to 
meet security program plan commitments regarding their access authorization 
program.  Furthermore, intentional violations may subject corporations, the 
individual wrongdoer, and others who knew and condoned such acts to criminal 
prosecution.  In IN 85-97, "Jail Term For Former Contractor Employee Who 
Intentionally Falsified Welding Inspection Records," IN 86-54, "Criminal 
Prosecution of a Former Radiation Safety Officer Who Willfully Directed an 
Unqualified Indivi-dual to Perform Radiography," and IN 87-64, "Conviction 
For Falsification of Security Training Records," the NRC stated that the 
criminal sanctions avail-able may include a fine and/or imprisonment.

On August 15, 1991, a final rule was published regarding misconduct by 
unlicensed persons (56 FR 40684).  This rule amended the Commission's 
regulations "to put on notice all persons whose actions relate to a 
licensee's activities subject to NRC regulation, that they may be subject to 
civil enforcement action for deliberate misconduct" that causes the licensee 
to be in violation.  Periodically informing contractors, sub-contractors, and 
vendors that they may be subject to criminal prosecution for intentional 
wrongdoing may also be a deterrent against deliberate compromise of 
background screening programs.  


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                                                        September 23, 1991 
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This information notice requires no specific action or written response.  If 
you have any questions about the information in this notice, please contact 
the technical con-tact listed below or the appropriate Office of Nuclear 
Reactor Regulation project manager.

                                   Charles E. Rossi, Director
                                   Division of Operational Events Assessment 
                                   Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation

Technical contact:  Nancy Ervin, NRR
                    (301) 492-0946

Attachment:  List of Recently Issued NRC Information Notices

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