Nuclear Security Governance Template

in Program

Every day, millions of people depend on the peaceful and responsible use of the atom. Most are not aware of the complex operations – including safety, safeguards, and security measures – that help ensure the proper control and facilitation of nuclear materials and technology. And as new challenges, including cyber threats, reshape the contours of the current security landscape, custodians of nuclear materials now more than ever are charged “to enhance public and stakeholder confidence through high standards of transparency, integrity, ethical behavior and social responsibility.”[1]

This proposed governance template presents a series of questions for senior leadership operating nuclear facilities to answer and describe the management decision-making processes and systems that ensure the security of their nuclear facility without divulging detailed and sensitive security information. The goal is to promote transparency by enabling individuals outside the organization to understand how the organization/company demonstrates its “duty of care,” i.e., not only by adhering to minimum regulatory requirements but also by fostering a work environment that promotes continuous improvement, adapts to evolving risks and embeds nuclear security as a core value. Thus, the focus is on organizational decision-making and how this affects the beliefs and attitudes of the individuals tasked as the responsible stewards of nuclear material and technologies.

The questions on this template are based on existing guidance documents from the International Atomic Energy Agency, including:

  • NSS 7 on Nuclear Security Culture;
  • NSS 13 on Nuclear Security Recommendations on Physical Protection of Nuclear Material and Nuclear Facilities; and
  • NSS28-T on Self-Assessment of Nuclear Security Culture in Facilities and Activities, among others.

The template also pulls from the WINS Best Practice Guide on Security Governance – one of the earliest analyses linking corporate governance and security culture. It also incorporates insights from the World Association of Nuclear Operators (WANO) and the U.S.-based Institute of Nuclear Power Operators (INPO) industry guidance for safety as these leadership recommendations can also help develop strong nuclear security practices. Select industry stakeholders reviewed the template to ensure the questions are not overreaching but are challenging enough such that top-level managers and boards/advisors find it a useful tool in presenting their security governance model. Continued industry input is a critical element of the template design process; it is important that the template accounts for the on-the-ground realities executive leaders face when running a facility and maintaining a viable business. 

With the knowledge that different members of an organization’s leadership will have varying concerns and responsibilities, this template is divided into three parts in accordance to three senior management roles:

  • Chief Operating Officers;
  • Chief Security Officers and/or Chief Nuclear Officers; and
  • Site Managers

The proposed template is not an exhaustive list and does not claim to be the determinant factor of what constitutes “good” governance. Rather, it is a resource to help nuclear operators illustrate how security considerations are decided, implemented, and internalized by the entire organization.

More background information on this proposed governance template
can be found in the following Stimson papers:

Lifting the Lid on Nuclear Liability: Perspectives from the Judicial Bench
An Industry-led Governance Framework for Demonstrating Strong Security

These papers can be found on
For more information, please contact [email protected]


[1] Nuclear Industry Summit 2016. “Joint Statement.” Last modified 2016. Accessed May 1, 2017.



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