Arthur Andersen Consultants Assess NRC Planning, Budgeting, and Performance Management Process

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No. 99-62
March 29, 1999


The Arthur Andersen consulting firm has concluded that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has initiated a fundamentally sound program aimed at making the conduct of the agency's business more effective and efficient, but also has cited the need for improvements.

The consulting firm was hired last July to assess the NRC's Planning, Budgeting and Performance Management process (PBPM) after one year of operation. Full implementation of the PBPM is expected to take several years.

"The PBPM framework is fundamentally sound," the Arthur Andersen report says, "because it has all of the critical components of a managing framework to be effective in providing the foundation for building an integrated outcome based performance management process at NRC." It also said that the NRC management process has been fundamentally improved by the implementation of PBPM.

But the consultants also found these weaknesses:

  • Program plans do not directly connect plans and measures to organizational outcomes.
  • Planning and budgeting were not effectively segregated or integrated.
  • Reporting and management oversight are somewhat informal.
  • Internal performance assessments are not driven by clear criteria that improve business performance.

Arthur Andersen consultants also studied the NRC's Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation (NRR). Regarding NRR, the consultants said: "The significant progress in understanding and embracing the need to become outcome based far exceeded the Andersen team's expectations. The Executive Team has been open to change and has accepted the challenges associated with this new thinking." The consultants said NRR division directors are "receptive to the challenges," presented to them, did not display "functional protectionism," and show an "openness to change."

Regarding work processes and planning, the consultants said that NRR has "identified the goals, vectors of change, and measurable success criteria," using these elements to create a work plan for the office. The consultants said that their initial assessment of NRR indicated a need to: (1) take better ownership for managing outcomes, or targets of success, in carrying out its functions; (2) set performance expectations and standards in a manner that is more universally understood; and (3) track change initiatives more effectively. The consultants found that as much as 20 percent of the work done in NRR is reactive, with assignments from the Executive Director for Operations or the Commission generally becoming a top priority. The consultants said that the planning process and work plan currently under development by NRR are addressing their findings and that significant progress has already been made.

Copies of the executive summaries of each report are available from the NRC's Office of Public Affairs. The full reports will be posted to the NRC homepage.

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