Guidance for Performance-Based Regulation (NUREG/BR-0303)

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Publication Information

Manuscript Completed: November 2002
Date Published: December 2002

Prepared by:
N.P. Kadambi

Division of Systems Analysis and Regulatory Effectiveness
Office of Nuclear Regulatory Research
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Washington, DC 20555-0001


This document provides guidance on a process for developing a performance-based alternative for consideration, along with other more prescriptive alternatives, in regulatory decisionmaking. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Management Directive 6.3, "Rulemaking," calls for the consideration of a performance-based alternative. Such an alternative differs significantly from a prescriptive one in which licensees are provided detailed direction for obtaining safety results. Performance-based approaches focus primarily on results. They can improve the objectivity and transparency of NRC decisionmaking, promote flexibility that can reduce licensee burden, and promote safety by focusing on safety-successful outcomes. These attributes are reflected in the process described in this document. The process is set up to develop answers to questions that, in turn, provide the information to formulate an alternative that can be compared against others in a management review process. The five steps in the process are (1) defining the regulatory issue and its context, (2) identifying the safety functions, (3) identifying safety margins, (4) selecting performance parameters and criteria, and (5) formulating a performance-based alternative. Examples are provided to illustrate the process. The formal high-level guidelines for performance-based activities are shown in Appendix A. For broadly scoped and complex issues, a more rigorous consideration of performance issues may be appropriate; accordingly, Appendix B provides supplementary guidance and background information.

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