Within the US Federal government, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is chartered with ensuring the safe use of radioactive materials for civilian purposes while protecting people and the environment. The NRC regulates commercial nuclear power plants and industries that use nuclear materials through licensing, inspection and enforcement of its requirements.

COVID-19 has impacted how nearly every American works. Complex and highly regulated industries such as nuclear power plants and industries that use, store or dispose of nuclear material are no exception. To accommodate changes required to keep staff and stakeholders safe, the NRC needed to enable these industries (referred to as licensees) to request exemptions from certain regulatory requirements, such as work-hour limits. Needing to quickly establish the processes and technology to support these exemption requests, NRC turned to CGI to take on this time-sensitive challenge.

Responding quickly to the need

NRC asked CGI to quickly enact exemption processes in a way that would minimize burden on licensees and NRC staff. Licensees wanted to quickly submit exception requests electronically. NRC offices needed to review and approve or deny these requests, and maintain records associated with the exemptions.

Understanding both licensee and NRC needs, CGI created multiple new automated exemption processes. Use of low-code capabilities and an agile approach enabled the team to stand up four new exemption processes in just a matter of days. CGI used four capabilities available within the NRC’s existing Microsoft 365 licenses: Microsoft Forms, SharePoint, Power Apps, and Power Automate.

Now licensees can request appropriate exemptions directly from NRC’s website to initiate the process. With swift response from NRC, licensees can adjust procedures to maintain compliance while protecting the safety and well-being of their staff. The new automated process enables submission and approval of exemption requests often within one business day.

Establishing a model for future digital transformation

Based on initial responses to the pandemic, government organizations around the world are accelerating the creation and implementation of new digital solutions to continue to rebound and reinvent the way they provide services, transitioning more rapidly from manual to digital processes and channels.

Since the launch of the exemption request processing workflows, NRC has identified additional processes for digitization. The team is analyzing a number of manual, paper-based, and time-consuming processes that can be streamlined by implementing digital workflows while meeting NRC’s records management standards. These initiatives will minimize burden on licensees, help NRC staff increase their efficiency, and increase collaboration between licensees and NRC. Moving forward, NRC looks to digitally enable:

  • Automated document management and storage of the requests into the Agencywide Documents Access and Management Systems (ADAMS)
  • Review and approval management for additional exemption processes
  • Licensee visibility into the status of an exemption request via a portal

This initiative has helped NRC and licensees respond to immediate needs driven by the pandemic and sets the foundation to reinvent the way that NRC interacts with its licensees. As a NRC technology contractor, CGI will continue to work with internal NRC stakeholders and licensees to improve processes through digital transformation.