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NRC OIG Releases Report on the Appearance of a Conflict of Interest Involving Members of an NRC Advisory Committee

ROCKVILLE, MD— Today, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Office of the Inspector General (OIG) released its Special Inquiry report on the appearance of a conflict of interest involving members of the NRC’s Advisory Committee on the Medical Uses of Isotopes (ACMUI).  This report is the result of an OIG investigation in response to allegations that committee members who advised the NRC on matters related to a rulemaking petition were simultaneously affiliated with an outside professional organization that promotes the interests of NRC-regulated entities and actively opposed the petition. 

The OIG found that two of the thirteen members of the ACMUI held leadership positions in the outside organization during the same time period the committee was reviewing matters related to the rulemaking petition.  These circumstances created the appearance of a conflict of interest, in that they could have led a reasonable person to question the integrity of the input the two members provided on petition-related matters.  The OIG also found, however, that neither member had any personal financial interest that would have been affected by the rulemaking proceeding. 

Federal ethics standards require employees to avoid the appearance of conflicts of interest between their outside activities and their government work.  These standards also counsel employees to obtain agency authorization before working on matters where the employee’s participation would raise questions regarding his or her impartiality.  Here, neither ACMUI member sought prior NRC approval to work on matters related to the rulemaking petition, even though their outside positions raised reasonable questions regarding their impartiality in petition-related matters. 

“My investigative and technical staff is to be commended for such a thorough report on a highly complex subject,” said Inspector General Robert J. Feitel.  “This report documents instances where inadequacies in the NRC’s internal oversight in this context led to circumstances that raised questions regarding the integrity of the agency’s decision-making on a matter pertaining to public health and safety.”