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 tasks related to the functions of the Regulatory Body.

In 2001, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) published a TECDOC entitled Training the staff of the regulatory body for nuclear facilities: A competence framework (TECDOC-1254) which examined the way in which the regulatory functions of a nuclear regulatory body result in competence needs. Using the internationally recognized Systematic Approach to Training (SAT), it provided a framework for regulatory bodies for managing training and developing, and maintaining the competence of its staff. It has been successfully used by many regulatory bodies all over the world including countries ‘embarking’ on a nuclear power programme.

The IAEA has also produced Safety Reports Series No.79 entitled Managing Regulatory Body Competence of nuclear installations which provides generic guidance on the development of a competence management system within a regulatory body’s integrated management system based on IAEA safety requirements. Safety Reports Series No. 79 provides guidance on developing an adequate competence management system and it contains an appendix giving detailed guidance for embarking countries in different phases of a nuclear power programme.

In this context, SARCoN needs to be examined with regard to the process of establishing and building competence, in addition to maintaining competence.

Different Regulatory Bodies have different regulatory and national approaches. SARCoN is the result of years of experience and work of many experts. It has also been validated by the IAEA Steering Committee on Competence of Human Resources for Regulatory Bodies of Nuclear Installations.

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


The objective of SARCoN is to provide guidance and information on specific and practical means to support the implementation of the IAEA Safety Standards in the area of ensuring regulatory competence. It is expected that implementing SARCoN will also support the Member States in the implementation of Article 8 of the Convention on Nuclear Safety (CNS) and Modules 3 and 4 of the Integrated Regulatory Review Service (IRRS).

SARCoN provides a methodology for two essential complementary elements of the competence management process, developing competence profiles and conducting a competence gap analysis.


SARCoN offers a step by step approach to develop competence profiles for specific regulatory tasks or positions and to analyze existing and required regulatory competences for individuals or organizational units in order to identify gaps and thus competence and training needs.

Flowchart of TNA

FIG - Competence Needs Assessment Process

It also provides examples of a questionnaire for self-assessment and guidance on the development and implementation of tools and programmes to fill these gaps in conjunction with Safety Reports Series No.79 on Managing Regulatory Body Competence.

This competence needs analysis (CAN) is essential to ensure competent human resources as required in the IAEA safety standards and other documents, in which the need and importance of ensuring regulatory competence is emphasized. The methodology offered also looks at periodic reviews of competence needs and the developed methods to acquire competences.

SARCoN is applicable to any regulatory body including those Member States “embarking” on a nuclear power programme or a new research reactor project. They are also applicable at all organizational levels and subdivisions in the regulatory body, from the individual to the organization as a whole.

However, the competences and overall information of this technical document and its tool are in no way prescriptive and are not intended to be a complete and perfect set of competence profiles.

SARCoN Seminars and Application Tool

The IAEA has provided training seminars on the use of SARCoN in more than 20 Member States; 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 to support the evaluation and self-assessment process.

Download software

Email us For further information please contact

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, Islamic Republic of
  • Japan
  • Jordan
  • Korea, Republic of
  • Malaysia
  • Mexico
  • Morocco
  • Pakistan
  • Philippines
  • Poland
  • Romania
  • Spain
  • Turkey
  • UK
  • Vietnam
  • Yemen

Email us For further information please contact

| Last update: Thursday, August 25, 2016.