National Nuclear Security Administration
October 13, 2005
The Honorable A. J. Eggenberger
Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board
625 Indiana Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20004-2901
Dear Mr. Chairman:
This is in response to your July 29, 2005, letter concerning National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) Policy Letters. Two interrelated actions have been initiated by NNSA with regard to policies and procedures.
On August 18, 2005, NNSA transmitted to the Office of Management proposed revisions to Chapter VII (Exemptions) of DOE M 251.1.1A, “Directives System Manual”. This language, drafted by the NNSA’s former General Counsel, is intended to make the exemption process of Chapter VII consistent with the requirements of the NNSA Act to provide for review of our exemptions by the appropriate parties and to establish a reasonable time frame (30 days is the prescribed time period in the current manual) and to fill a procedural gap in the current process. The current process permits final approval of an exemption if no objection is received from the Cognizant Secretarial Officer, the Office of Primary Interest, or the DOE General Counsel within 30 days and allows for those offices to request additional information, with no time frame for considering it. The draft submittal by the NNSA would permit the NNSA Administrator to approve the exemption 14 days after NNSA submits any requested additional information, provided that there is no further objection from the interested DOE offices. We have requested that this language be added prior to RevCom review of the revised manual which is expected shortly.
The NNSA has agreed in principle to revisions in the framework for policy guidance. The NNSA Policy Letter system (NAP-1) will be eliminated and replaced with a new directives system for NNSA. The enclosed White Paper describes the system in detail. The highlights are:
When the Office of Management advises the date for release of the revision to DOE M 251.1-1A into RevCom for review, we will provide a timeline for execution and implementation of the actions described above. In the meantime, we are proceeding by vetting the White Paper proposals with staff at the NNSA Site Offices and Service Center. Their input is essential to acceptance and implementation of a revised policy system.
We look forward to working with you to ensure that the Board has an opportunity to review the NNSA Directives that affect health and safety at defense nuclear facilities.
Linton F. Brooks
cc: Mark B. Whitaker, Jr., Departmental Representative to the DNFSB