RECOMMENDATIONS AND RESPONSES
1. BOARD RECOMMENDATIONS.
a. The Board issues recommendations to the Secretary on issues or circumstances it
determines need to be resolved to ensure adequate protection of the public health
and safety. The Secretary must respond to each Board recommendation within
45 days of its publication in the Federal Register.
b. The Secretary may accept or reject a Board recommendation in whole or in part.
Figure 1 provides an overview of the Board recommendation process (see Chapter I,
2. RESPONDING TO A RECOMMENDATION.
a. When a Board recommendation is received, the Departmental Representative
must coordinate with the affected Secretarial Officers to designate the cognizant
Secretarial Officer. If necessary, the Deputy Secretary must resolve any
disagreements regarding designation of the cognizant Secretarial Officer. The
cognizant Secretarial Officer must oversee the development of the Department's
response. If the recommendation is accepted, the cognizant Secretarial Office also
must oversee development of the associated implementation plan and resolution
of the applicable safety issues, through to the ultimate closure of the
b. The cognizant Secretarial Officer must designate a Responsible Manager,
typically a Deputy Assistant Secretary or Operations/Area Office Manager or
equivalent, to manage development and implementation of an adequate response
and, if necessary, an implementation plan for resolving the Board
recommendation. The Responsible Manager should possess sufficient stature and
authority to obtain the necessary commitments of action from the various
organizations involved. An Operations/Area Office Manager should be
considered for recommendations that are limited to a single site; a Deputy
Assistant Secretary is more appropriate for recommendations with implications
for multiple sites and organizations. This Responsible Manager may, in turn,
identify a technical lead to assist in coordinating response development and
implementation planning. The selection of an appropriate Responsible Manager
and an experienced technical lead with the necessary technical, communications,
and management skills is key to the Department's success. The continuous
commitment of the Responsible Manager and technical lead throughout the life of a recommendation has also proven to be important for effective Departmental
interface with the Board.
Figure 1 Recommendation Process Overview
c. The Responsible Manager must establish a response team to support the
development and implementation of the Department's response. Secretarial
Offices and Operations/Area Offices expected to be major stakeholders in the
implementation plan should provide members for this team. The points of contact
should assist the Responsible Manager in obtaining appropriate team participation
from their respective organizations, including field representatives, as appropriate.
Team participants must have the authority to speak for their management. The
Responsible Manager should solicit early involvement of the Office of the
General Counsel (and NNSA General Counsel, when an NNSA element is
involved) to support the response team in addressing legal issues or procedural
requirements. The Departmental Representative's office must designate an Issue
Lead to support the Responsible Manager as a member of the response team.
d. The response team should promptly begin development of the Department's
response and the associated implementation plan, if one is expected to be
necessary. To promote timeliness and responsiveness, affected Departmental
elements should follow the process presented in Attachment 2 and summarized in
e. The response team must, as a minimum, consider the following topics:
(1) significant safety issues associated with the recommendation,
(2) underlying causes and implications of these issues,
(3) existing programs and activities that can be built upon,
(4) strategic input from affected Departmental elements,
(5) public comments forwarded from the Board,
(6) costs and benefits associated with implementation, and
(7) the impact on ongoing Departmental programs and activities.
f. The response team should seek discussions with one or more Board members to
fully understand the Board's views regarding the underlying safety issues and
potential resolution approaches.
g. Prior to obtaining concurrence on the Secretary's response letter, the Responsible
Manager should estimate the associated costs and contribution to safety and brief
Departmental senior management concerning this information.
3. ACCEPTING A RECOMMENDATION.
a. If the Secretary accepts the recommendation, the Responsible Manager must
prepare the Department's response letter which (see Chapter I, subparagraph 2b)
Figure 2 Department Response Process Overview
(1) demonstrates an understanding of what is being recommended,
(2) commits the Department to take action to meet the recommendation within
the context of the Department's acceptance,
(3) identifies the Responsible Manager by name, and
(4) identifies specific actions the Department intends to undertake so the
Board can determine if the material terms of the recommendation will be
b. Unconditional acceptance of Board recommendations must be carefully
considered by the response team. If a response letter is sent which simply states
that the Secretary agrees with or accepts a recommendation, the Board will
interpret this action as an unconditional acceptance of the Board's
recommendation and the Board's interpretation thereof. The Board will ordinarily
consider unacceptable any subsequent contradiction or retrenchment from the
response's unconditional acceptance (see Chapter I, subparagraph 2b).
4. REQUESTING A RESPONSE EXTENSION. If requested by the Secretary, the Board
may grant additional time, not to exceed 45 days, for the Department to respond to the
Board's recommendation. Requests for additional time should be reserved for
exceptional circumstances (e.g., when a complex technical analysis is required prior to
finalizing the Department's response). The Responsible Manager must initiate a request
for additional time when it is clear that an adequate response cannot be completed within
the initial 45 days. Regardless of when the request is submitted, the extension begins
after the initial 45 days has expired. The Issue Lead should support the Responsible
Manager by coordinating this request.
5. REJECTING A RECOMMENDATION, IN WHOLE OR IN PART.
a. The Secretary may reject a recommendation, in whole or in part. Prior to formally
rejecting all or part of a Board recommendation, the cognizant Secretarial Officer
and the Responsible Manager should brief one or more members of the Board on
the Department's concerns. In rejecting all or part of a recommendation, the
response letter must identify substantive differences that the Department has with
the recommendation. The Board may accept a Departmental response which
rejects portions of a recommendation if, based on the Board's judgment, sound
reasons are given for rejecting the recommendation and alternative means of
protecting the public health and safety are specified (see Chapter I,
b. If the Secretary rejects a recommendation in whole or in part, the Board may
reaffirm or revise the original recommendation and notify the Secretary. The
Secretary must provide a final decision to the Board within 30 days of notification
of the Board's reaffirmation or revision.
c. The cognizant Secretarial Officer must ensure that this final decision is reached
and a final response to the Board is prepared for the Secretary's approval. This
final response prepared by the cognizant Secretarial Officer must identify the parts
of the recommendation that are accepted and rejected, and describe the reasons for
the decision. The cognizant Secretarial Officer, the Responsible Manager, the
Departmental Representative, and response team members should perform the
same roles in developing this final response as they performed in developing the
initial response. The Department must publish the final decision in the Federal
Register and also transmit it to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and to
the Senate Committees on Armed Services and Appropriations (see Chapter I,