[Federal Register Volume 67, Number 190 (Tuesday, October 1, 2002)]
[Notices]
[Pages 61968-61972]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 02-24944]


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NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION


NRC Information Quality Guidelines

AGENCY: Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

ACTION: Publication of NRC Information Quality Guidelines.

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SUMMARY: The NRC Information Quality Guidelines contain the 
Commission's policy and procedures for ensuring the quality of 
information before it is disseminated to the public. It also contains 
the procedures by which an affected person may obtain correction of 
information that does not comply with the guidelines.

DATES: The NRC Information Quality Guidelines are effective October 1, 
2002.

ADDRESSES: Information Correction Requests may be mailed to the 
Information Quality Coordinator, Office of the Chief Information 
Officer, Mail Stop: T6-D8, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, 
Washington, DC 20555-0001, e-mailed to infoquality@nrc.gov, or faxed to 
301-415-5130. Information Correction Requests may also be submitted at 
the NRC Web site information quality comment form that is accessible 
from NRC's ``Contact Us'' Web page (http://www.nrc.gov/public-involve/info-quality/contactus.html). Information Correction Requests may be 
delivered to the Information Quality Coordinator, Two White Flint 
North, 11545 Rockville Pike, Rockville, Maryland, between 7:30 a.m. and 
4:15 p.m. on Federal workdays.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Phillip Ray, Office of the Chief 
Information Officer, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC 
20555-0001; telephone: 301-415-2972 or by Internet electronic mail at 
infoquality@nrc.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

OMB and Agency Responsibilities

    Section 515(a) of the Treasury and General Government 
Appropriations Act, FY 2001 (Pub. L. 106-554), directed the Director, 
Office of Management and Budget (OMB), to issue guidelines that provide 
policy and procedural guidance to Federal agencies for ensuring and 
maximizing the quality, objectivity, utility, and integrity of 
information (including statistical information) disseminated by Federal 
agencies in fulfillment of the purposes and provisions of the Paperwork 
Reduction Act. OMB issued its final guidelines on September 28, 2001. 
Subsequent guidance was issued by OMB on February 22, 2002 (67 FR 
8452). These guidelines require agencies subject to the Paperwork 
Reduction Act to publish in the Federal Register a notice of 
availability of the final Information Quality Guidelines and post the 
guidelines on the agency's public Web Site by October 1, 2002. Also, 
these agencies will:
    1. Ensure that information covered by these guidelines and 
disseminated for the first time on or after this date has undergone 
reviews for quality.
    2. On January 1, 2004, and each January 1 thereafter, the agencies 
will submit to the Director of OMB a report on the number and nature of 
requests received regarding compliance with these OMB guidelines and 
the resolution of requests received.

NRC Information Quality Guidelines

    The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is committed to 
ensuring the quality of all information that it relies on or 
disseminates. The NRC's policies and practices are designed to ensure 
that the agency establishes and maintains an appropriate level of 
quality commensurate with the nature of the information. Thus, the most 
influential scientific, financial, and statistical data are subject to 
the most rigorous quality standards. The NRC will correct information 
that does not meet its guidelines or those of OMB based on the 
significance and impact of the correction. The NRC Information Quality 
Guidelines are general statements of agency policy and are not legally 
binding on the agency or on affected persons.

Scope of Information Subject to These Guidelines

    Because of the importance of openness and transparency, the NRC 
routinely makes available to the public the majority of its regulatory 
documents, information about its decision making processes, and the 
standards used to analyze information submitted by the regulated 
community. OMB's guidelines require the NRC to apply information 
quality standards only to a subset of this information; however, the 
NRC is committed to ensuring the quality of all of the information it 
disseminates, whether or not it is specifically covered by these 
guidelines. In addition, the NRC has many existing processes by which 
the public may comment on agency information. The agency will continue 
to use these processes to respond to comments and requests, regardless 
of whether they are specifically covered by these guidelines.
    The agency's information quality reviews apply to NRC information 
that is publicly disseminated for the first time on or after October 1, 
2002. The fact that an information product is already on NRC's Website 
or in the Public Document Room prior to October 1, 2002, and is still 
maintained by NRC (e.g., in NRC's files, in publications that NRC 
continues to distribute on its Website), does not make the information 
subject to these guidelines or to the request for correction process if 
it falls within the archival records exemption. Information 
disseminated prior to October 1, 2002, is subject to the correction and 
appeal process should the information be questioned and the requester 
can demonstrate that the challenged data, which is publicly available 
through agency Websites or other means, serves agency program 
responsibilities and/or is relied upon by the public as official 
government data. Additionally, if specific information has previously 
been disseminated and is not

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covered by these guidelines, that information may still be subject to 
the NRC Information Quality Guidelines during a post October 1, 2002, 
dissemination of the information in which NRC either adopts, endorses 
or uses the information to formulate or support a regulation, guidance, 
or other Agency decision or position.

Information Subject to These Guidelines

    These guidelines apply to print and electronic versions of agency 
information. The types of NRC information covered by the guidelines 
include, but are not limited to, the following:
    [sbull] Rulemakings.
    [sbull] Inspection reports.
    [sbull] Findings of the reactor oversight process.
    [sbull] Regulatory guides and other guidance to licensees.
    [sbull] Generic communications to licensees, including information 
notices, generic letters, bulletins, and others.
    [sbull] Technical reports.
    [sbull] Safety Evaluations and Safety Evaluation Reports.
    [sbull] Information that other parties provide to the NRC upon 
which the NRC relies or which the NRC disseminates.

Information Not Subject to These Guidelines

    On the basis of the OMB guidelines, the types of NRC information 
exempt from the guidelines include, but are not limited to, the 
following:
    [sbull] Information products intended to be limited to the 
allegations process, public filings, subpoenas, records compiled for 
law enforcement purposes or that are involved in adjudicative 
processes.
    [sbull] Non-scientific and/or non-statistical general, procedural, 
or organizational information, which is prepared for NRC management and 
operation, and is not primarily intended for public dissemination.
    [sbull] Information that is neither initiated nor sponsored by the 
NRC and is not relied upon or disseminated by the NRC.
    [sbull] Information that expresses opinions, rather than formal 
agency views.
    [sbull] Information that is intended to be limited to intra-agency 
use.
    [sbull] Shared government information or information that is 
intended to be limited to inter-agency use.
    [sbull] Information that is prepared for dissemination to agency 
employees, contractors, or grantees.
    [sbull] Agency correspondence that is not primarily intended for 
public dissemination, but is made publicly available solely to enable 
the public to be aware of the NRC's interactions with individuals, 
including applicants, licensees, and others who make formal requests to 
the agency.
    [sbull] Agency press releases, fact sheets, press conferences, or 
similar communications (in any medium) that announce, support the 
announcement, or give public notice of information that the NRC has 
disseminated elsewhere.
    [sbull] Congressional testimony and other submissions to Congress 
containing information that the NRC has previously disseminated to the 
public.
    [sbull] Agency speeches.
    [sbull] Publications of individual employees, grantees, and 
contractors, in which the information is published in the same manner 
used by academic colleagues, and which include an appropriate 
disclaimer that the views expressed are the individual's or entities' 
own and do not reflect the views of the NRC.
    [sbull] Archival records.
    [sbull] Trade secrets, intellectual property, classified, 
restricted, unclassified safeguards, proprietary, sensitive homeland 
security, privacy, and other information not subject to disclosure 
under the Freedom of Information Act.
    [sbull] Responses to requests made under the Freedom of Information 
Act, the Privacy Act, the Federal Advisory Committee Act, or similar 
laws.
    [sbull] Interpretations of data or information, or requests to de-
publish information.

Applicability to Proposed Rulemaking and Other Public Comment Processes

    The correction and appeal process that will address data quality 
challenges normally will not apply to information disseminated by the 
NRC through a comprehensive public comment process, e.g., Federal 
Register notices of proposed rulemakings, regulatory analyses, requests 
for comments on information collections subject to the Paperwork 
Reduction Act, environmental impact statements, and other documents for 
which NRC solicits public comments. Persons questioning the quality of 
information disseminated in those documents, or documents referenced or 
relied upon in those documents, should submit comments as directed in 
the Federal Register or other notices requesting public comment on the 
given document.
    The NRC will use its existing processes for responding to public 
comments in addressing the request for correction, and will describe 
the actions it has taken with regard to the request in the Federal 
Register notice of the final agency rule, regulatory analysis, or other 
final action. In cases where the agency disseminates a study, analysis, 
or other information prior to the final agency action or information 
product, ICRs will be considered prior to the final agency action or 
information product in those cases where the agency has determined that 
an earlier response would not unduly delay issuance of the agency 
action or information product and the requester has shown a reasonable 
likelihood of suffering actual harm from the agency's dissemination if 
the agency does not resolve the ICR prior to the final agency action or 
information product.

Waiver of Standards Under Urgent Conditions

    The NRC's information quality standards may be temporarily waived 
for information that is disseminated under urgent situations. The NRC 
will consider ``urgent situations'' to include emergency conditions at 
licensed facilities, as well as imminent or credible threats to the 
public health and safety, the common defense and security, including 
homeland security, the environment, and other situations deemed to be 
urgent conditions on a case-by-case basis.

NRC Quality Standards

    Information, including third-party information, that the NRC relies 
on or disseminates must meet both the NRC Information Quality Standards 
and OMB Information Quality Guidelines in order to ensure and maximize 
information quality. These information quality standards also apply to 
the creation, collection, acquisition, and maintenance of information 
by the NRC. The NRC will ensure that its draft information collection 
packages submitted for OMB approval will result in the information 
being collected, maintained, and used in a manner that is consistent 
with NRC and OMB information quality guidelines. Agency policies and 
procedures will ensure that the NRC meets and maintains these 
standards.
    The NRC has set information quality as a measure of agency 
performance. The NRC will meet the information quality criteria for 
utility, integrity, and objectivity, as defined in the OMB and NRC 
guidelines. The following NRC standards expound on how the NRC will 
apply the OMB criteria in its regulatory environment. The degree of 
rigor of the pre-dissemination reviews will be commensurate with the 
nature and significance of the information.
    The NRC will impose the highest level of quality on influential 
scientific,

[[Page 61697]]

financial, or statistical information, which the agency defines as 
information that forms the technical basis for a substantive rulemaking 
that has substantial impact on an industry. The NRC may also deem other 
types of information as ``influential'' under Section 515(a) of Public 
Law 106-554 of the Treasury and General Appropriations Act, on a case-
by-case basis. In determining what constitutes influential scientific, 
financial, or statistical information, the NRC considers two principal 
factors. First, the information may have a clear and substantial impact 
that has a high probability of occurring. Second, the information may 
impact regulatory decisions affecting a broad class of applicants or 
licensees. (Although information contained in a regulatory decision for 
an individual applicant or licensee may have substantial impact, it is 
limited in its breadth, therefore may not be deemed ``influential'' for 
the purposes of these guidelines.)
    The NRC applies the most rigorous procedures to ensure the quality 
of such ``influential'' information. The NRC achieves the highest level 
of quality by adherence to procedures that ensure utility, integrity, 
and objectivity. The reproducibility of original and supporting data 
for influential scientific, financial, or statistical information will 
be consistent with commonly accepted scientific, financial, or 
statistical standards. When reproducibility is not achievable through 
public access because of confidentiality protection or compelling 
interests, analytical results will receive especially rigorous reviews. 
The staff will describe the specific reviews, as well as the specific 
data sources, quantitative methods, and assumptions used.
    The following provides a definition of the elements of information 
quality (utility, integrity, and objectivity) and a description how the 
NRC ensures information quality.
    Utility is the usefulness of the information to its intended users. 
To ensure information utility, the NRC will:
    [sbull] Adhere to NRC policy on the dissemination of information to 
the public, which clearly specifies what is to be made available to the 
public and when it should be available for public release.
    [sbull] Make information associated with the agency regulatory 
processes and decisions public unless release is restricted because, 
for example, a given regulatory process or decision contains classified 
national security information, safeguards information, proprietary 
information, sensitive homeland security information, or other 
information that is protected from disclosure under the Freedom of 
Information Act.
    [sbull] Use feedback mechanisms at the NRC's Web site to request 
public comments on what information the NRC disseminates and how it is 
disseminated.
    [sbull] Request public comments on individual documents and hold 
public meetings, as appropriate, to solicit public comments.
    [sbull] Assist the public in quickly and conveniently locating the 
information they are seeking through the NRC's Public Document Room, or 
its Web site.
    Integrity is the security of information from unauthorized access 
or revision to ensure that the information is not compromised through 
corruption or falsification. To ensure information integrity, the NRC 
will adhere to agency policies for personnel security, computer 
security, information security, and records management, which include 
the following key components:
    [sbull] Systems development and life cycle management policies 
require that computer systems must be designed and tested to prevent 
inadvertent or deliberate alteration and ensure appropriate access 
controls.
    [sbull] Computer and personnel security policies ensure that 
employees and contractors who have access to electronic information and 
associated computer systems are screened for trustworthiness and 
assigned the appropriate level of access.
    [sbull] Records management policies require that agency records 
must be properly maintained and protected. In particular, the NRC's 
electronic records management system (i.e., Agencywide Documents Access 
and Management System, (ADAMS)) is designed to ensure that documents 
that are disseminated to the public are protected from alteration or 
falsification.
    Objectivity involves two distinct elements, including presentation 
and substance. Information must be presented in a manner that is 
accurate, clear, complete, and unbiased. In addition, the substance of 
the information presented must be accurate, reliable, and unbiased. To 
ensure information objectivity, the NRC will:
    [sbull] Achieve accuracy and completeness in the following ways:
    [sbull] Provide formal review of and concurrence with all 
information disseminated, including rulemaking documents, inspection 
reports, technical reports, generic communications, and all other 
agency documents covered by these guidelines.
    [sbull] Encourage peer review of NRC research products. The primary 
objective of the peer review is to judge the technical adequacy of the 
research and to bring the widest and best knowledge to bear on the 
quality of research products. The NRC has adopted criteria for the 
selection of peer reviewers and the performance of peer reviews that 
are consistent with OMB guidelines.
    [sbull] Adhere to Quality Management Control standards prior to 
disseminating information at the NRC's public Web site.
    [sbull] Ensure that information is reliable and unbiased in the 
following ways:
    [sbull] Apply sound statistical and research methods to generate 
data and analytical results for scientific and statistical information.
    [sbull] Use peer reviews, consistent with OMB guidelines, of 
agency-sponsored research that is relied upon. Where information has 
been subjected to formal, independent, external peer review, the 
information may generally be presumed to be of acceptable objectivity. 
However, this presumption is rebuttable based on a persuasive showing 
in a particular instance.
    [sbull] Use reviews of agency information by independent advisory 
committees, as appropriate, including the Advisory Committee on Reactor 
Safeguards (ACRS), the Advisory Committee on Nuclear Waste (ACNW), and 
the Advisory Committee on the Medical Uses of Isotopes (ACMUI).
    [sbull] Use reviews by the Committee to Review Generic Requirements 
(CRGR), as appropriate, for information and related analyses with 
generic implications.
    [sbull] Use reviews by Agreement States, as appropriate, for 
matters pertaining to the regulation of nuclear materials.
    [sbull] Provide opportunities for the public and States to comment 
on rulemakings, Commission policy statements, regulatory guides, and 
other information products, as appropriate.
    [sbull] Hold public meetings to seek public views and solicit 
public comments through the NRC's Website and Federal Register notices, 
as appropriate.
    [sbull] Comply with internal policy to ensure unbiased incident 
investigation team investigations.
    [sbull] Use reviews of proposed policy decisions by the five-member 
Commission.
    Achieve transparency in the following ways:
    [sbull] Include in relevant agency information products 
descriptions of the data and methods used to develop the information 
product in a way that would make it possible for an independent, 
qualified individual or organization to reproduce the results.

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    [sbull] Adhere to NRC policy and guidance overseeing the 
performance of regulatory analyses as provided in publicly available 
``Regulatory Analysis Guidelines of the U. S. Nuclear Regulatory 
Commission,'' NUREG/BR-0058, Rev. 3, and publicly available 
``Regulatory Analysis Technical Evaluation Handbook,'' NUREG/BR-0184. 
The NRC will perform regulatory analyses that assess uncertainty, in 
the context of quantifying risk, and communicate those findings to the 
public in a manner that meets the intent of the OMB referenced 
information quality standards.
    Achieve clarity in the following ways:
    [sbull] Adhere to the agency's Plain Language Program in written 
and electronic products.
    [sbull] Ensure that the all disseminated information receives 
appropriate editorial review.
    [sbull] Respond to stakeholder comments on the clarity of proposed 
actions.

NRC Administrative Process for the Public to Seek Correction of 
Information

(1) What You Must Do If You Are an Affected Person
    Use the following procedure to seek correction, under Section 
515(a), of information that does not meet NRC or OMB Information 
Quality Guidelines:
    [sbull] Submit your Information Correction Request (ICR) within 60 
calendar days of the initial information dissemination or within 60 
calendars days of NRC notice of intent to rely, or its reliance, on the 
information.
    [sbull] Submit a discussion of why the NRC should consider your ICR 
(along with your ICR), if you submit the ICR after 60 calendar days 
after the initial information dissemination or after 60 calendars days 
after the NRC notice of intent to rely, or its reliance, on the 
information.
    [sbull] State that your ICR is submitted in accordance with the 
NRC's Information Quality Guidelines.
    [sbull] Include your name, mailing address, fax number, e-mail 
address, telephone number, and organizational affiliation, if any. The 
NRC needs this information to respond to your ICR and contact you if 
necessary.
    [sbull] Describe clearly the information you believe is in error 
and requires correction. Include the source of the information (for 
example, the name and date of the report or data product), the exact 
location of the error (for example, the page, figure, table, or Web 
page address), and a detailed description of the information to be 
corrected. A copy of the specific information that the ICR covers would 
assist the NRC in its review of your ICR.
    [sbull] State specifically why the information should be corrected 
and, if possible, recommend specifically how it should be corrected.
    [sbull] Provide a copy of supporting documentary evidence, such as 
comparable data or research results on the same topic, or a specific 
authoritative source to help in the review of your ICR. If you supply 
the documentary evidence by means of a reference, the reference must be 
specific enough to allow the NRC to easily locate the information you 
identify as the basis for the ICR.
    [sbull] State specifically how you are affected by the information 
for which you are seeking correction.
(2) How to Submit Your Request
    You must submit your ICR under these guidelines in writing by mail, 
fax, e-mail, or Internet, as follows:
    [sbull] Mail: Information Quality Coordinator, U.S. Nuclear 
Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC 20555.
    [sbull] Fax: 301-415-5130.
    [sbull] E-mail: Infoquality@nrc.gov.
    [sbull] Internet: http://www.nrc.gov/public-involve/info-quality/contactus.html.
(3) What the NRC Will Do With Your Initial Request
    Based on a review of the information you provide, the NRC will take 
the following actions:
    [sbull] Perform an acceptance review to confirm that you have 
provided the necessary information regarding the ICR for the staff to 
review and make a decision.
    [sbull] Submit your ICR for review to an Initial Review Official 
(IRO) who is knowledgeable of the subject matter related to your ICR 
and who normally will be at the Branch Chief level and, in most cases, 
a member of the Senior Executive Service.
    [sbull] Consult with other Federal agencies or NRC staff in 
responding to your ICR, as appropriate.
    [sbull] Determine whether an error exists and a correction is 
warranted and, if so, what action will be taken.
    [sbull] Notify you as soon as possible within the 45 day period if 
the ICR requires more than 45 calendar days to resolve. The NRC will 
inform you that more time is required, state the reason why, and 
include an estimated decision date.
    [sbull] Notify you of the agency's final decision regarding your 
ICR within 45 calendar days by letter, e-mail, or fax. The NRC's 
response will explain the findings of the review and any actions that 
the NRC will take.
(4) How You May Appeal the NRC Decision in Regard to Your Initial 
Request
    Use the following procedure if you wish to appeal the NRC's denial 
of your ICR, or if you wish to appeal the decision on the corrective 
action:
    [sbull] Submit your appeal within 30 calendar days of receipt of 
NRC's notification of denial or notification of the corrective action. 
(Only the original requester may appeal the decision.)
    [sbull] Identify clearly the original ICR, and specify the NRC 
decision that you are appealing.
    [sbull] Describe clearly the basis for your appeal and how the 
response failed to resolve your ICR.
    [sbull] Submit your appeal in accordance with the directions in the 
agency's initial response.
(5) What the NRC Will Do With Your Appeal
    Based on a review of the information you provide in the appeal, the 
NRC will take the following actions:
    [sbull] Perform an acceptance review to confirm that you have 
provided the necessary information regarding the ICR for the staff to 
review and make a decision.
    [sbull] Submit your request for review to an Appeal Review Official 
(ARO), typically at the Division Director level, who is a member of the 
Senior Executive Service and who, in most cases, does not supervise the 
IRO responsible for the initial response to the ICR.
    [sbull] Limit the appeal review to the basis of the appeal.
    [sbull] Consult with other Federal agencies or NRC staff in 
responding to your appeal, as appropriate.
    [sbull] Determine whether an error exists and a correction is 
warranted and, if so, what action will be taken.
    [sbull] Notify you as soon as possible within the 30 day period if 
the appeal requires more than 30 calendar days to resolve. The NRC will 
inform you that more time is required, state the reason why, and 
include an estimated decision date.
    [sbull] Notify you of the agency's final decision regarding your 
appeal within 30 calendar days by letter, e-mail, or fax. The NRC's 
response will explain the findings of the appeal and any actions that 
the NRC will take.
(6) Corrections
    The correction process is designed to address the genuine and valid 
needs of affected persons without disrupting agency operations. You 
should be aware that you bear the burden of proof with

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respect to both the need for correction and the type of correction 
requested. In determining whether to correct information, the NRC may 
reject claims made in bad faith or without justification. The NRC is 
required to undertake only the degree of correction that it concludes 
is appropriate for the nature and timeliness of the information 
involved.
    The NRC may base its decisions regarding appropriate corrective 
action(s) on such factors as the significance of the asserted error, 
the benefits that are likely to be derived from such a correction, the 
observation of budget and resource priorities and restraints, and the 
agency's more pressing priorities and obligations.
    Subject to applicable laws, the NRC's corrective measures may 
include, without limitation, personal contacts via letter or telephone, 
form letters, press releases, postings on the NRC's Website, correction 
in the next version of a document, or other appropriate methods that 
would give affected persons reasonable notice of any corrective actions 
made.
    It is the NRC's intent to make corrections within a reasonable time 
after the agency has made the determination that a correction is 
appropriate. However, the NRC's budget, resources, and priorities, as 
well as the complexity of the correction itself, may affect when 
corrections are made.
    In cases where the agency disseminates a study, analysis, or other 
information prior to the final agency action or information product, 
ICRs will be considered prior to the final agency action or information 
product in those cases where the agency has determined that an earlier 
response would not unduly delay issuance of the agency action or 
information product and the requester has shown a reasonable likelihood 
of suffering actual harm from the agency's dissemination if the agency 
does not resolve the ICR prior to the final agency action or 
information product.
    The NRC will continue to process any decision or document that has 
had a related ICR unless the NRC decides that the information requires 
correction before the process may continue.
    Your request for correction and the correction process will be open 
to the public as a commitment to transparency. Your ICR and NRC 
responses will be made public through ADAMS. Note: Your personal 
privacy information will not be made public.
(7) Annual Report
    The NRC will identify the number and nature of the ICRs received 
and their resolution, including an explanation of decisions to deny or 
limit corrective actions in its annual fiscal year reports to the OMB.

    Dated at Rockville, Maryland, this 20th day of September 2002.

    For the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Jacqueline E. Silber,
Deputy Chief Information Officer, Office of the Chief Information 
Officer.
[FR Doc. 02-24944 Filed 9-30-02; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 7590-01-P