Environment News Service

NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION WANTS MORE CLOSED-DOOR MEETINGS

Tuesday, March 02, 1999

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission, in a move the agency says is "aimed at improving efficiency and collegiality," has decided to propose a final rule to allow certain meetings of three or more of the NRC's five Commissioners to be held in private. Under current practice, no more than two Commissioners may meet to discuss business in most instances unless the meeting is open to the public. What is contemplated is to exclude from the provisions of the Government in the Sunshine Act of 1976 such things as: technical, informational briefings in which the Commissioners do not deliberate on any particular proposal for action; generalized "big picture" discussions; preliminary, exploratory discussions to generate ideas; spontaneous, casual discussions of mutual interest; discussions of business-related matters not linked to any specific proposal for action; and discussions to enhance the effectiveness of communications among the Commissioners and their offices. As one example of what is done now, a Commissioner might ask the staff to provide a closed-door technical briefing on a particularly complex issue. One other Commissioner would be allowed to attend without making it open for public observation. Other Commissioners, if they desired the same briefing, would have to arrange separate sessions. The Commission says it does not intend to treat any public meetings currently being held under the Sunshine Act as non-public sessions.

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