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Systematic Assessment of Regulatory Competence Needs for Regulatory Bodies of Nuclear Facilities

Systematic Assessment of Regulatory Competence Needs for Regulatory Bodies of Nuclear Facilities


A Regulatory Body’s competence is dependent, amongst other things, on the competence of its staff. A necessary, but not sufficient, condition for a Regulatory Body to be competent is that its staff has the competences they need to perform the functions of the Regulatory Body.

In 2001, IAEA published TECDOC 1254[1] which examined the way in which the regulatory functions of a nuclear regulatory body result in competence needs with a focus to nuclear facilities. Using the internationally recognised Systematic Approach to Training (SAT), it provided a framework for regulatory bodies to manage training and developing and maintaining the competence of its staff.

Several IAEA workshops and Technical Meetings took place using TECDOC 1254, in particular, in 2004 a major Technical Meeting was held in Islamabad, Pakistan during which an elaborated procedure for conducting Training Needs Assessment was adopted. In 2007, the IAEA produced a first draft of SARCoN guidelines and held a Technical Meeting in Vienna during which the tool was assessed by regulators. SARCoN was appreciated and was again discussed and improved by a second Technical Meeting of regulators in 2008.

Following the TM in 2008, a Steering Committee (SC) of Competence of Human Resources for Regulatory Bodies was established in 2009 with the mission of advising the IAEA on how best it can assist Regulators in the Member States in area of competence and training as well as to discuss and exchange information and good practices. Since then, SARCoN has been one of main documents within the work programme of the SC. Until 2011, the SC and the previous TMs were mainly composed of regulators from countries that operate Nuclear Power Plants. In 2011, the SC was enlarged with a group of countries that are in the process of planning to start a nuclear power programme.

SARCoN gives guidance for the systematic analysis of required competences of the regulatory body based on the regulatory functions and as such is equally applicable to the needs of countries “embarking” on nuclear power programmes. However, more detailed guidance according to the three development phases of countries embarking in a nuclear Power Programme is under preparation in the IAEA with the support of the Steering Committee on Competence of Human Resources for Regulatory Bodies.

Different Regulatory Bodies have different regulatory, cultural and national approaches. SARCoN is the result of years of experience and work of many experts and has been validated by the IAEA Steering Committee of Competence of Regulatory Bodies for nuclear facilities. However, the competences and overall information of these guidelines and tool are in no way prescriptive neither intend to be a complete and perfect set of competence profiles.

SARCoN must be tailored and adapted to the particular situation of the regulator.

The IAEA is developing a draft safety report under the title “Managing Regulatory Competence”. The future safety report shall supersede TECDOC 1254.


The objective of these guidelines is to provide information on specific and practical means to support the implementation of the IAEA safety standards in the area of ensuring regulatory competence by systematic analysing the competences ’gap.


These guidelines provide a systematic approach and step-wise procedure for identifying potential training needs of regulatory bodies through gap analysis. They also provide examples of a questionnaire for self-assessment.

The methodology and process described in these guidelines come from TECDOC 1254 and are based on the IAEA safety standards and on the regulatory functions described in them. They are therefore applicable to any nuclear installations regulator. They are also applicable at all organizational levels and subdivisions, from the individuals to the organization as a whole. However the appendices and examples need to be examined in the context of the particular regulatory organization and its areas of competence within the national infrastructure.

Competence Needs Assessment Process

The guidelines provide a step-by-step approach to identify the gap between the existing and the required competences and define the associated training needs, with a focus to nuclear facilities.

Flowchart of TNA

SARCoN Seminars and Application Tool

The IAEA has provided training seminars on how to use SARCoN in more than 18 countries, one of the main objectives of the seminars is to adapt the tool to the particular Member State.

The guidelines are complemented by a free of charge software tool provided by the IAEA upon request to support the evaluation process.

Download software

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Experience on SARCoN

Countries that received an IAEA Seminar on SARCoN or that reported having used the SARCoN model include:

  • Argentina
  • Bangladesh
  • Belarus
  • Belgium
  • Bulgaria
  • Chile
  • China
  • Egypt
  • Finland
  • Germany
  • Indonesia
  • Iran
  • Japan
  • Jordan
  • Korea
  • Malaysia
  • Mexico
  • Morocco
  • Pakistan
  • Philippines
  • Poland
  • Romania
  • Spain
  • Turkey
  • UK
  • Vietnam
  • Yemen

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| Last update: Thursday, May 15, 2014.