In July 2021, the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet introduced the Commonwealth Regulator Performance Guide (CRPG) which sets out the Government’s expectations for regulator performance. The CRPG specifies that it does not apply to Commonwealth entities with regulatory functions that apply only to Commonwealth agencies or employees.
ARPANSA only regulates Commonwealth entities or employees. However, in keeping with the spirit of the CRPG for the 2021-2022 financial year ARPANSA assessed its performance against the following CRPG principles of regulatory best practice:
- Continuous improvement and building trust
- Risk based and data driven
- Collaboration and engagement
1. Continuous improvement and building trust
In the first quarter of the 2021-22 financial year, ARPANSA’s regulatory operations continued to be impacted by COVID-19 pandemic travel restrictions and in the remaining quarters by regulatory staff leave, secondment, and vacancies.
The performance measure on the percentage of inspections conducted in accordance with the proposed frequency was not met. Staffing issues also impacted on the annual risk-informed review of licenses and planned inspection schedules.
An extraordinary number of high priority regulatory approval assessment applications received from licence holders further compounded staff resourcing issues and impacted performance.
The assessment found that ARPANSA performed well in continuous improvement and trust building, which is evidenced by a high level of stakeholder satisfaction in the timely issue of assessment reports and regulatory decisions. These continued on-trend throughout the year with no negative feedback received.
ARPANSA built trust by actively engaging and seeking stakeholder feedback. Surveys following inspections and assessments indicate high levels of satisfaction with no overall negative feedback received. Feedback has been used to improve the quality and consistency of our service particularly regarding guidance, incident reporting and the publication of performance data on the website. These actions support transparency and build trust with applicants, licence holders, and the public more broadly.
The target set for the extent of improvement actions taken by ARPANSA’s licence holders after identification of areas for improvement through the inspection process was exceeded and is an encouraging sign of voluntary corrective actions taken by licence holders and the adoption of best practices.
With regards to ARPANSA’s own functions, potential improvements were identified and implemented including regulatory guidance and forms relating to radiation incident reporting and publishing the compliance history of licence holders on this website. This supports transparency and builds trust with the public and licence holders.
2. Risk based and data driven
Collection and analysis of data is used to improve business intelligence and a risk informed approach to regulation. Data indicates that ARPANSA has a positive influence on licence holder safety performance and culture for safety. Identified compliance issues have been consistently addressed by licence holders and voluntary improvements have been implemented in most cases where best practice was not observed by ARPANSA. Our use of data will be further enhanced with the development of a new regulatory administration data system in the coming year.
ARPANSA has operated in a challenging environment. Its capacity has been tested initially through COVID-19 travel restrictions, a higher-than-normal volume of applications, and then by staff vacancies and absences. It has missed targets for the number of inspections undertaken and for the annual review of inspection prioritisation. These challenges are being addressed by recruitment and secondments from other agencies.
ARPANSA continued to use and develop data systems to monitor licence holder performance, risk, and set regulatory priorities. Data systems are used to capture information from inspections and regulatory assessments.
3. Collaboration and engagement
ARPANSA has collaborated with other domestic regulators, sharing information and working to reduce regulatory burden including through joint activities. Internationally ARPANSA is active and is represented at IAEA safety standard committees to ensure that Australia’s interests are considered.
ARPANSA initiated regular international meetings with counterparts on approaches to human and organisational factors for safety which is a foundation to good safety performance. A number of improvements to the regulations on this topic have been developed are expected to be implemented in legislation in the second half of 2022.
ARPANSA continued to actively engage and collaborate with stakeholders, significantly exceeding the performance target. In the 2021-2022 financial year 55 information sharing meetings were held with licence holders and 12 site visits of licence holders’ premises were undertaken. In addition to many working level meetings, executive level meetings were held with ANSTO, the Department of Defence and the Australian Radioactive Waste Agency.
ARPANSA also held an annual licence holder forum at the Australian National University in Canberra which was attended by more than 70 licence holder representatives.
ARPANSA collaborated with other regulators by sharing information or undertaking joint activities. These included regulators such as Australian Safeguards and Non-proliferation Office (ASNO), Comcare, the Department of Industry, Science and Resources, the NSW Environment Protection Authority and the South Australian Environment Protection Authority.
ARPANSA initiated a series of international meetings to explore the practical implementation of human and organisational factors (HOF) to improve licence holder performance. Meetings were held with counterparts in Finland, France, Sweden and the United Kingdom. ARPANSA attended the 31st Nuclear Energy Agency Working Group on Human and Organisational Factors meeting as part of the Committee on the Safety of Nuclear Installations.
Previous self-assessments of regulatory performance
The results of our self-assessments have been approved by the CEO and validated by the Nuclear Safety Committee.
2019-20 Self-assessment Report:
2018-19 Self-assessment Report:
2017-18 Self-assessment Report:
2016-17 Self-assessment Report:
2015-16 Self-assessment Report: