NRC doing business digitally

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is accepting digitally signed regulatory documents following an announcement this week that it selected VeriSign Inc. to create a secure electronic filing system.

The system enables nuclear reactor licensees and other customers to digitally sign and securely submit regulatory documents over the Internet to NRC. It also will help the agency comply with the Government Paperwork Elimination Act, which requires that agencies make forms available online by October 2003.

John Skoczlas, the Electronic Information Exchange project manager at NRC, said the system has been in use since late January and enabled the agency to issue certificates to its customers "without having to build and maintain an expensive infrastructure."

"It's going really well, but there's been a couple of glitches here and there, which is going to happen when there's lots of different browser releases," he said. "For the most part, all the glitches have been really minor, and we've had real good success with it."

The NRC's e-filing system uses VeriSign's managed digital certificate services with the Internet Commerce System from PureEdge Solutions Inc. to attain secure online filing. ICS enables filers to use a master Extensible Markup Language cover form to attach virtually any type of document, digitally sign the form and the document, and securely submit them via the Internet to an NRC Web server protected with a VeriSign Web server digital certificate.

Using the filer's digital certificate, NRC can authenticate the identity of the sender and ensure that the documents have not been changed. The XML document format helps ensure that the submitted data cannot be tampered with, and it protects the document's presentation and structure.

Skoczlas said the VeriSign/PureEdge system cost about $25,000, but the system is tied into the development of other projects, which are part of a prime contract awarded to Labat-Anderson Inc. for slightly less than $500,000.

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