Commission Direction-Setting and Policymaking Activities

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See also the Schedule for Upcoming Commission Meetings

Commission Appointments

The NRC is headed by five Commissioners appointed by the President and confirmed by the U.S. Senate for five-year terms. One of the Commissioners is designated by the President to serve as Chairman.

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Chairman and Commission Responsibilities

The Chairman is the principal executive officer of the Commission and is responsible to the Commission for developing policy planning and guidance for consideration by the Commission, including budget formulation. The Chairman also serves as the official spokesperson for the Commission.

The Commission as a collegial body formulates policies, develops regulations governing nuclear reactor and nuclear material safety and security, issues orders to licensees, and adjudicates legal matters.

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How the Commission Operates

The Commission makes decisions in several ways:

  • The primary decisionmaking tool is a written issue paper submitted by the NRC staff to the Commission. Policy, security, rulemaking, and adjudicatory matters, and general information are provided in a stylized document referred to as a "SECY Paper."
  • Commission Action Memoranda, known as "COMs," are written exchanges among Commissioners on issues before the Commission or a matter a Commissioner wants to bring to the attention of his or her fellow Commissioners. COMSECYs are memoranda that come from NRC staff seeking Commission guidance.
  • Commission meetings may be held with the NRC staff and/or outside parties to discuss issues before the Commission for action. Members of the public are welcome to attend and observe public Commission meetings held at the NRC Headquarters building. Unofficial transcripts are produced for each public meeting and are available on the Web for viewing or downloading approximately two days after the meeting. Public meetings are broadcast live on the Web and are archived for future viewing as indicated on our meetings page. See the Schedule of Upcoming Commission Meetings for more information.

Issues before the Commission are decided by majority vote. After the Commission completes voting on a SECY Paper or Commission Action Memoranda, the Office of the Secretary (SECY) records the decision in a memorandum to the staff called "Staff Requirements Memorandum" (SRM) and also issues a "Commission Voting Record" (CVR) which includes the record of votes and individual views of all Commissioners. SRMs are also issued following each Commission meeting to document any discussion or requests made at the meeting.

Commission Orders address appeals or motions before the Commission in such matters as license transfers, license renewals, amendments to nuclear facility licenses, and enforcement matters. In some cases CLIs are issued in export and rulemaking matters.

See Internal Commission Procedures for a more detailed information on the procedures governing the conduct of business at the Commission level.

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Commission Resources in the Electronic Reading Room

Recently Released Commission Documents: Daily listing of Commission documents released to the public. Reading Room

Commission Papers (SECYs): Written issue papers the NRC staff submits to the Commission for Commission decision and information about policy, security, rulemaking, and adjudicatory matters (1996 to present).

Commission Action Memoranda (COMs and COMSECYs): COMs are written exchanges among Commissioners on issues before the agency or on matters a Commissioner wants to bring to the attention of his or her follow Commissioners and COMSECYs are memoranda from the NRC staff seeking guidance from the Commission. Using COMs allows Commissioners to develop preliminary views, explore options and propose direction to the staff, and to initiate activities before staff offices become involved (1996 to present).

Staff Requirements Memoranda (SRMs): After the Commission completes its vote on a written issue paper submitted by the NRC staff, the Office of the Secretary records the decision in a "Staff Requirements Memorandum" (SRM). The SRM includes a concise statement of the Commission's decision on the recommendation of the paper, noting specifically any approved modifications to the recommendations. The SRM also contains a clear statement of any additional requirements or tasks to be performed by the staff together with appropriate action due dates (1996 to present).

Commission Voting Record (CVR): After the Commission completes its vote on a written issue paper submitted by the NRC staff (SECY) and the SRM has been issued, the Office of the Secretary will issue a CVR that includes (a) an indication of affirmative votes, negative votes, abstentions, non-participation, and individual views of all Commissioners; and, (b) a copy of each Commissioner's vote sheet (1997 to present).

Commission Meetings, Agendas, Slides, Transcripts, Meeting SRMs and Full Written Explanation for Closed Meetings: Verbatim records of Commission meetings open to the public organized by date of meeting and associated agenda, slides, transcript and Staff Requirements Memoranda (SRMs). (1996 to present). Also listed are closed meetings with written explanation for closing the meeting.

Combined Index of Related Commission Documents: This index contains SECY that have been publicly released and any associated SRM, CVR, or "Commission Meeting Transcript" (1996 to present).

Commission Orders: The Commission has supervisory authority over the conduct of adjudicatory proceedings of the Atomic Safety Licensing Board Panel. In a Commission Order, the Commission may review a panel's memorandum and order, reverse a ruling of the panel, rule on a petitioner's request to intervene in a proceeding, grant a petitioner additional time to prepare for a proceeding, or review certain issues involved in a proceeding (1999 to present).

Commission Speeches: Speeches of individual Commissioners at various meetings and events in the United States and abroad (1997 to present).

Commission Correspondence: Important Commission correspondence to Congress and others concerning NRC activities.

Commission Responses to GAO Reports: Commission comments on Government Accountability Office (GAO) Reports concerning NRC activities.

Commission Policy Statements: Subject listing of all Commission Policy Statements.

Not all documents are publicly released upon issuance. As a general policy, SECY Papers are released 10 business days after issuance of the paper by the Office of the Secretary unless they contain sensitive information that warrants protection (adjudicatory, enforcement or investigatory, lawyer-client or legal work product, classified or proprietary, personal privacy information, and other sensitive material). SRMs, CVRs, and COMs/COMSECYs will be released to the public immediately after Commission action (Commission voting and preparation of SRM) is completed unless they contain information that warrants protection as noted above. The Commission may authorize release of a SECY Paper at an earlier time than normal to allow earlier public access. For additional information, see Chapter II, "Decision Documents" of the Internal Commission Procedures.

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Page Last Reviewed/Updated Friday, September 10, 2021