Enterprise Assessments Study of Good Practices in Improving Disciplined Operations at the Department of Energy Nuclear Facilities – November 2017

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November 2017

Study of Good Practices in Improving Disciplined Operations

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Environment, Safety and Health Assessments, within the independent Office of Enterprise Assessments (EA), conducted a study to identify good practices that DOE organizations might consider when developing improvement actions to recover from operational deviations.  EA noted that deviations in disciplined operations recur in organizations that had expended considerable resources to “fix” operational problems, usually focusing on the behavior of front line employees and featuring counseling, occasional employee firings, retraining, exhortations on strict procedure compliance, and procedure revisions.  Yet, after a period of time, similar deviations recurred, sometimes in the same or other facilities where improvement programs were implemented.

EA recently observed indications that a few DOE operations had undertaken operational improvement efforts that engaged the whole organization in substantive change.  EA undertook this study to understand how two specific organizations responded to operational concerns through such organization-wide engagement.  EA’s goal in this study was to identify good practices that can be shared across the DOE complex in order to benefit other sites embarking on organizational improvements.  In particular, EA sought to understand whether the changes at these sites engaged management and employee collaboration in ways that helped the organization work together to improve work practices and sustain performance.