[Federal Register Volume 60, Number 103 (Tuesday, May 30, 1995)]
[Pages 28180-28181]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 95-13104]



Reveiw of NRC Inspection Report Content, Format, and Style

AGENCY: Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

ACTION: Request for public comment.


SUMMARY: The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is revising its 
procedures on inspection reports and requests public comment on whether 
the content, format and style of inspection reports as currently issued 
are appropriate, and how they may be improved.The NRC is soliciting 
comments from interested public interest groups, the regulated 
industry, States, and concerned citizens. Comments are requested from 
both reactor and materials licensees. This request is intended to 
assist the NRC in making the inspection report a more effective tool 
for communicating with the regulated industry and the public, and in 
meeting the NRC's responsibility for public health and safety.

DATES: The comment period expires June 29, 1995. Comments received 
after this date will be considered if it is practical to do so, but the 
Commission is able to ensure consideration only for comments received 
on or before this date.

ADDRESSES: Submit written comments to: David Meyers, Chief, Rules 
Review and Directives Branch, Division of Freedom of Information and 
Publication Services, Office of Administration, Mail Stop: T-6D-59, 
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC 20555. Hand deliver 
comments to: 11555 Rockville Pike, Rockville, Maryland, between 7:45 
a.m. and 4:15 p.m. on Federal workdays. Copies of comments received may 
be examined at the NRC Public Document Room, 2120 L Street, NW. (Lower 
Level), Washington, DC.

Laban Coblentz, Mail Stop: O-12E-4, Inspection Program Branch, Office 
of Nuclear Reactor Regulation, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, 
Washington, DC 20555, Telephone (301) 415-2619.



    The Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation (NRR) has begun a review 
of the content, format, and style of NRC inspection reports, as a 
preliminary step to revising internal inspection report procedures. The 
review is being led by Laban Coblentz, Inspection Program Branch, NRR, 
and is being supplemented by contacts in other NRC Headquarters offices 
and the regions.
    This review will attempt, through discussion, review, and 
consensus-building, to define the characteristics of the ideal NRC 
inspection report, and to revise internal procedures to produce reports 
meeting those characteristics. As such, it involves understanding the 
results of other assessments, learning from inspection report users, 
and evaluating the interfaces of the report with other agency processes 
and systems. The scope of the review applies only to documenting 
inspection results, and does not encompass the focus, scope, or 
frequency of inspections.
    NRC inspection reports are primarily designed to communicate the 
results of an NRC inspection to the licensee inspected. They:
    (1) Briefly describe the areas inspected, with more detail given to 
support more significant findings;
    (2) Give general conclusions about the effectiveness of the Program 
or activity inspected;
    (3) Provide a basis for other NRC action, including Enforcement 
actions, Plant Performance Reviews, Systematic Assessments of Licensee 
Performance (SALPs), and other assessments.
    In addition to the primary addressee, inspection reports 
communicate relevant information on licensee performance to other NRC 
offices, other licensees, public interest groups, Congressional 
oversight committees, other Federal agencies, State and local 
governments, and the public. Unless exempted from pubic disclosure 
(e.g., because of containing proprietary or safeguards information), 
copies of NRC inspection reports are placed in the NRC Public Document 
Room (PDR).

Scope of the Review

    This review will attempt to approach the NRC inspection report from 
two perspectives. The first is that of the initial readers--primarily 
the licensee to whom the report is addressed, but also the other 
readers listed above. This viewpoint should highlight questions such 
as, ``Is the message clear?'' ``Is the information presented in a 
logical, consistent manner?'' ``Is the tone appropriate?'' etc.
    The second viewpoint is that of subsequent users (e.g., a manager 
preparing a SALP report, an inspector scanning old reports for past 
problems, a group of local citizens reviewing a licensee's history of 
issues, or an external agency evaluating the effectiveness of NRC 
inspection in a particular area). This viewpoint should emphasize the 
ease of information retrieval, consistency of format from report to 
report, effective report [[Page 28181]] summaries, accurate and usable 
cross-references, and appropriate level of detail.
    Additional detail on the scope of the review is given in the 
questions below. Public comments are sought on these issues to assist 
the NRC in its review. Although the NRC is interested in as many 
comments as possible, commenters are not obligated to and need not 
address every issue.
    In providing comments, please key your responses to the number of 
the applicable question (e.g., ``Response to A.3''). Section D should 
be used for additional or miscellaneous comments. Comments should be as 
specific as possible. The use of examples is encouraged.
    Comments are requested on the following specific issues:

A. Inspection Report Content

    1. Focus on safety:
    a. Are inspection reports appropriately focused on safety issues? 
Should report writers be required to articulate the safety significance 
of each finding?
    b. Is the level of detail for a given issue generally commensurate 
with the significance of that issue?
    c. What threshold of significance should be used to determine 
whether or not an observation should be documented in the inspection 
report? Do existing reports generally use an appropriate threshold of 
    d. Are reports, as currently written, too negative in their focus? 
Should ``equal time'' be given to discussions of licensee strengths and 
successes? If so, what criteria should be used to include such findings 
in inspection reports?
    2. Supporting Details:
    a. Do inspection reports generally contain an appropriate level of 
detail to describe technically complex issues?
    b. What level of detail should be included for describing an event 
when that event has already been described separately in a licensee 
event report?
    c. What level of detail should be used to describe inspection 
activities when little or no findings have resulted from those 
    d. What are the costs and benefits of including, as enclosures to 
the report, all referenced material to support report findings (e.g., 
licensee procedures, supporting calculations, or independent studies)?
    3. Enforcement Issues:
    a. What information should be included in inspection reports to 
support taking enforcement actions?
    b. Are reports generally clear in stating the circumstances of the 
violation (e.g., what requirement was violated, how it was violated, 
who identified it, etc.)?
    c. Is sufficient detail generally given to substantiate 
enforcement-related conclusions?
    d. Should all minor and non-cited violations be documented in 
inspection reports? What threshold should be used to determine the 
significance of compliance items that must be documented?
    4. Clear Conclusions:
    a. Are report conclusions generally well-supported by facts? Is the 
progression of logic generally clear?
    b. Is a conclusion statement always necessary for each section of 
the report (e.g., when limited observations or findings were made in a 
given area)?

B. Inspection Report Format

    1. Consistency:
    a. Should inspection report formats be consistent from region to 
region? What benefits or problems would result from adopting a 
standardized report outline?
    b. What are the advantages and disadvantages of combined or 
integrated inspection reports (e.g., one report per six weeks, per 
reactor site, covering all areas)?
    c. When is the use of ``boilerplate'' appropriate (i.e., standard 
phrases or sentences used from report to report to describe similar 
inspection methods, purposes, or conclusions)? Should more or less 
boilerplate be used?
    2. Readability:
    a. What features increase or decrease a report's readability or 
effectiveness in communication?
    b. Do you prefer a narrative or a ``bulletized'' appearance?
    3. Usefulness:
    a. What features increase or decrease the efficiency of later 
efforts to retrieve information from a report (e.g., for SALP reviews, 
regional studies, or external reviews)?
    b. Are there particular parts of the report that could be deleted 
without decreasing the report quality or detracting from its function?
    4. Report Summaries: What information should be included in a 
report summary? How should it be presented?
    5. Cover Letters: How might cover letters be modified to express 
more clearly the level of concern, or to better convey a particular 
performance message to a licensee?

C. Inspection Report Style

    1. Style variations: In what ways do variations in writing style 
influence the effectiveness of inspection reports?
    2. NRC style: Are there particular features of standard NRC style 
(e.g., consistent use of past tense or third-person form) that make 
inspection reports more readable? Less readable?
    3. Tone: Are inspection reports generally written in an appropriate 
    4. Grammatical Construction: Are inspection reports generally 
acceptable in sentence and paragraph construction? Do they give 
evidence of careful proofreading?

D. Additional Comments

    In addition to the above specific issues, commenters are invited to 
provide any other views on NRC inspection reports that could assist the 
NRC in improving their effectiveness.

    Dated at Rockville, Maryland, this 23rd day of May 1995.

    For the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Richard W. Borchardt,
Chief, Inspection Program Branch, Directorate for Inspection & Support 
Programs, Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation.
[FR Doc. 95-13104 Filed 5-26-95; 8:45 am]