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Mr. GEJDENSON. Thank you. I think there are those of us who probably figure that even the Congress isn't perfect, but we keep trying to make it better. Mr. Asselstine. Mr. ASSELSTINE. Mr. Chairman, I have a prepared statement. In the yerests of time, I would simply ask that it be included in the IreCOrC1. Let me just make a couple of informal comments at this point, if that is satisfactory. Mr. GEJDENson. Without objection. Mr. ASSELSTINE. First, I support both of the concepts embodied in H.R. 2126; first, the establishment of statutory Inspector General for the NRC; and second, efforts to protect and strengthen the independence of our Office of Investigations. In the case of the Inspector General, I simply find that our current office, the Office of Inspector and Auditor, lacks the credibility within the Agency to serve as an effective and independent watchdog of Agency behavior. I think we are in need of an Inspector General. In the case of our Office of Investigations, I think it is worth recognizing that the Office of Investigations carries out an essential function in terms of the safety mission of the NRC. As a practical matter, we simply lack the resources and the capability to review more than a small portion of the many activities that go on at our licensed facilities on a day-in and day-out basis. As a result, we depend very heavily on the utilities and on our licensees to be honest with us, to report information and problems to us, and to attempt to comply with our requirements in an honest and straightforward and good faith manner. Because of the importance of relying upon the industry to be honest and to carry out their responsibilities in a good faith manner, we need some mechanism to ensure that that in fact is occurring, and that is the purpose of our Office of Investigations. Mr. Chairman, I agree with your comments at the outset of this hearing, that the vast majority of the people who are involved in this industry are honest and well-meaning and well-intentioned, and they try to do a good job. But, unfortunately, past experience has shown that that is not always the case and that from time to time there are questions of wrongdoing and problems that do need to be investigated if we are to have confidence in the ability of our licensees to attempt to carry out our regulations and requirements in good faith and, where there are problems, to bring them to our attention. Before the Office of Investigations was established, this function was carried out by the NRC Technical Staff and it was carried out with some degree of difficulty. The Technical Staff were not experienced and knowledgeable and capable investigators. As a result, they did not always follow good investigative practices, and the Agency came under a great deal of criticism for poor investigative practices in the past. As a result, the Commission established our Office of Investigations in 1982 and staffed it with qualified and experienced and trained investigators. The result has been that that office has performed, in my view, extraordinarily well. In fact, we have received a number of letters from the U.S. Attorney General commending the Agency for the work of our Office of Investigations in conducting investigations of wrongdoing allegations by our licensees. Over the past several years, our Office of Investigations has been under attack by the industry for many of these very efforts. And, as well, there have been efforts within the agency to rein in our Office of Investigations. That is why I think there is a need to provide some additional protection and strengthen the independence of that office, and that is why I support efforts along the lines of the concepts embodied in H.R. 2126 to achieve that objective. My prepared statement has a few suggestions for you on how I think those objectives might be strengthened and further enhanced in the legislation, and I think that will conclude the comments I would be prepared to make on that subject. One final point. To address the comments that Chairman Zech made in response to your opening statements, I respect what the Chairman Zech said; I know that he sincerely believes what he said about the role and effectiveness of this agency and the people who staff it. Unfortunately, for myself, I conclude that there are some instances in which the NRC may not be maintaining the kind of arm's-length relationship with the industry that is necessary and I think that there are also some instances in which this Agency is not pursuing the regulatory initiatives that are needed and indeed are long overdue. And I think that you are going to explore during the course of this hearing a couple of specific instances in which I think those two conclusions are supported. I would urge you to look in detail at some specific instances and judge for yourself whether this Agency has maintained the kind of arm's-length relationship with the industry that really is needed, and whether we really are pursuing the kinds of efforts that are needed. And I would cite fire protection and drug and alcohol abuse as two examples that I think merit further study. Thank you. [Prepared statement of Mr. Asselstine follows:]
STATEMENT BY COMMISSIONER JAMES K. ASSELSTINE
JUNE 11, 1987
Mr. Chairman, I would like to add a few comments to the Commission's testimony. I favor legislation to create an independent, statutory inspector general for the NRC. I also support the goal of section 3 of H.R. 2126 to protect the independence of the Commission's Office of Investigations. However, I have some concerns that the bill, as drafted, may not be the best means of accomplishing its goals. I will outline later
in my testimony some changes you may want to consider.
I support the creation of a statutory Inspector General (IG) for the NRC. The function of an inspector general is to serve as a watchdog for the agency to help ensure that the mission of the agency is carried out effectively and efficiently. The mere existence of an independent watchdog also helps to assure the public of the integrity of an agency's program. In addition, reports from an inspector general can be a useful tool for agency management. They provide an objective, independent look at how the agency functions and make suggestions for improvement. However, in order
to be an effective watchdog, the inspector general must be credible; that
is, the office must be competent, it must be independent, and it must have the highest integrity. An IG's reports must be respected as being thoughtful, thorough and complete. It is difficult to produce change in an organization based on an IG report that one can easily dismiss as inadequate. The IG office must also be above reproach. There must be no question about the office's integrity or its freedom to investigate and report factually about anyone or anything in the organization. There must not be even an appearance of a lack of integrity or independence or an IG's
report loses moral force.
The NRC is in need of a credible inspector general office. For a variety of reasons, the office which now performs that function, the Office of Inspector and Auditor (0IA), lacks the necessary credibility. Just one example of this is a case in which I recently had great difficulty convincing an agency employee to report his concerns about agency managers to OIA. He and others who approached me with concerns about the performance of certain senior NRC staff managers said that they did not trust that office to do an adequate job. I should note that this lack of credibility is not simply a problem with OIA's current management; rather, OIA's lack of credibility goes back over several years. In my view, creating an independent, statutory inspector general could help to restore credibility to the agency's IG function. This will help the Commission to better manage the agency, and it will help to ensure public trust in the NRC. For these reasons, I support the creation of independent, statutory
inspector general for the NRC.
H.R. 2126 amends the Energy Reorganization Act to create within the NRC an Office of Inspector General. The Inspector General is to be appointed by and removed by the President, but the Inspector General is to report to and be under the general supervision of the Commission. However, the Commission may not prevent or prohibit the Inspector General from "initiating, carrying out or completing any audit or investigation." It is not clear what "general supervision" is left to the Commission given this prohibition. Thus, H.R. 2126 creates an NRC office which is actually headed by a presidential appointee, but which nominally reports to the Commission. Such a situation may lead to confusion. A clearer approach would be to simply amend the Inspector General Act as S. 908 does. H.R. 2126 also establishes several qualifications necessary for appointment as NRC's Inspector General. One is "knowledge of nuclear power technology." In my opinion, such a requirement is not necessary and may significantly
limit the available candidates for Inspector General. Office of Investigations
H.R. 2126 also contains provisions pertaining to the NRC's Office of Investigations (OI). In general, I support efforts to protect the independence of OI. The credibility of the NRC's Office of Investigations is just as important as the credibility of its IG. The NRC does not have the resources to do more than audit licensees' programs. We must be sure, therefore, that licensees are not purposely circumventing our regulations or failing to report significant information necessary for the NRC to make
informed decisions. By investigating and providing the information