The United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has a Generic Issues Program (GIP) to address Generic Issues (GI). A GI is defined as “a regulatory matter involving the design, construction, operation, or decommissioning of several, or a class of, NRC licensees or certificate holders that is not sufficiently addressed by existing rules, guidance, or programs.” This rather legalistic definition has several practical corollaries: First, a GI must involve safety. Second, the issue must involve at least two plants, or it would be a plant-specific issue rather than a GI. Third, the potential safety question must not be covered by existing regulations and guidance (compliance). Thus, the effect of a GI is to potentially change the body of regulations and associated guidance (e.g., regulatory guides). The GIP was started in 1976, thus it is a relatively mature program. There have been approximately 850 issues processed by the program to date. More importantly, even after 30 years, new GIs continue to be proposed. The entire set of Generic Issues (GIs) is updated annually in NUREG-0933, “A Prioritization of Generic Safety Issues.” GIs tend to involve complex questions of safety and regulation. The efficient and effective means of addressing these issues is very important for regulatory effectiveness. If an issue proves to pose a genuine, significant safety question, then swift, effective, enforceable, and cost-effective action needs to be taken. Conversely, if an issue is of little safety significance, the issue should be dismissed in an expeditious manner, avoiding unnecessary expenditure of resources and regulatory burden or uncertainty. This paper provides an overview of the 5-stage program, from identification through the regulatory assessment stage. The paper also includes a discussion of the program’s seven criteria, sources of proposed GIs, recent improvements, publicly available information, historical performance, and status of current GIs.

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