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Topic Page on the Human Capital Crisis in Radiation Safety

Statement of the Issue

A projected shortfall in sufficiently educated radiation safety professionals has placed a burden on industries using radiation to support our nation's energy, security, and health needs. This national shortage is primarily due to a lack of funding of academic research and educational health physics programs. Another concern is the anticipated large number of radiation safety personnel reaching retirement age in the near future.

Health Physics Society Documents

Human Capital Crisis in Radiation Safety - A Position Statement of the Health Physics Society

Health Physics Society Human Capital Task Force Report

Health Physics Education Reference Book

The WARP Initiative - Where are the Radiation Professionals?

Pertinent Legislation and Related Documents

Authorizing Legislation 

110th Congress - America COMPETES Act or the America Creating Opportunities to Meaningfully Promote Excellence in Technology, Education, and Science Act, Public Law 110-69, 9 August 2007 - The complete bill, which has extensive provisions for expanding education at all levels in mathematics and the sciences, has the purpose "To invest in innovation and education to improve the competitiveness of the United States in the global economy."

Title V - Department of Energy provides for a number of actions to be carried out by the Department of Energy to further science, engineering, and mathematics education. The title for this section of the bill is the "Protecting America's Competitive Edge Through Energy Act" or the "PACE-Act."

Of particular attention to the health physics academic programs are Sec. 5004, Sec. 5006, and Sec. 5009.

Sec. 5004: Nuclear Science Talent Expansion Program for Institutions of Higher Education has as its purposes (1) to address the decline in the number of and resources available to nuclear sciences programs at institutions of higher education and (2) to increase the number of graduates with degrees in nuclear sciences, an area of strategic importance to the economic competitiveness and energy security of the United States.

The definition of nuclear sciences includes "health physics."

This purpose is accomplished by the Secretary of Energy awarding competitive grants to institutions of higher education that establish new academic degree programs in nuclear science and to existing academic programs for increasing the number and quality of graduates entering the nuclear sciences.

Sec. 5006: Department of Energy Early Career Awards for Science, Engineering, and Mathematics Researchers is administered by the director of the Office of Science for the award of grants to scientists and engineers at an early career stage at institutions of higher education and other eligible organizations to conduct research in fields relevant to the mission of the Department.

Sec. 5009: Protecting America's Competitive Edge (PACE) Graduate Fellowship Program directs the Secretary of Energy to establish a graduate fellowship program for students pursuing a doctoral degree in a mission area of the Department.

Energy Policy Act of 2005 - Section 954: University Nuclear Science and Engineering Support directs the Secretary of Energy to conduct a program to invest in human resources and infrastructure in the nuclear sciences and related fields, including health physics, nuclear engineering, and radiochemistry, consistent with missions of the Department of Energy related to civilian nuclear research, development, demonstration, and commercial application.

Energy Policy Act of 2005 - Section 622: Nuclear Regulatory Commission Scholarship and Fellowship Program amends the Atomic Energy Act to require the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to establish a Scholarship and Fellowship Program to enable students to study a field the Commission determines is a critical skill area related to the Commission's mission.

109th Congress - S. 3936 - National Competitiveness Investment Act - Division B - Section 2003 - Chapter 5 - Section 3191 has the purpose of (1) [addressing] the decline in the number of and resources available to nuclear science programs of institutions of higher education and (2) [increasing] the number of graduates with degrees in nuclear science, an area of strategic importance to the economic competitiveness and energy security of the United States. 


Appropriations Legislation

Fiscal Year 2009

Twenty-one organizations, including the Health Physics Society and Health Physics Program Directors Organization, sent a letter to the chair and ranking member of the House and Senate Appropriations Subcommittee for Energy and Water Development asking that Section 5004 of the America COMPETES Act be fully funded for fiscal year 2009.

Public Witness Testimony by the Health Physics Society (HPS) and Health Physics Program Directors Organization (HPPDO) for the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee for Energy and Water Development regarding the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (10 April 2008).

Public Witness Testimony by the Health Physics Society (HPS) and Health Physics Program Directors Organization (HPPDO) for the House Appropriations Subcommittee for Energy and Water Development regarding the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (18 March 2008).

Major Savings and Reforms in the President's 2009 Budget - Nuclear Regulatory Commission: Discretionary Proposal University Nuclear Energy Program. This document provides the rationale used by the Office of Management and Budget to recommend termination of the University Nuclear Education program that was appropriated in fiscal year 2008.

Six Senators urge Deputy Secretary of Energy Clay Sell to ask for appropriations for nuclear science education support in fiscal year 2009 as authorized by the America COMPETES Act.

Fiscal Year 2008

Joint Explanatory Statement on Consolidated Appropriations Amendment - Extract for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission Nuclear Education fund assigning $15 million "to support education in nuclear science, engineering, and related trades to develop a workforce capable of the design, construction, operation, and regulation of nuclear facilities and the safe handling of nuclear materials. These funds are to be used for college scholarships and graduate fellowships in nuclear science, engineering, and health physics, and for faculty development grants supporting faculty in these academic areas for the first six years of their careers. Some of these funds are also to be used for scholarships for trade schools{C}{C}{C}{C}in the nuclear-related trades." (emphasis added)

President Nelson writes to Senators Byrd, Cochran, Dorgan, and Domenici and to Representatives Obey, Lewis, Visclosky, and Hobson regarding fiscal year 2008 Energy Appropriations for university support.

Senate Report 110-127 giving the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development report on the appropriations bill, which restores money to the Department of Energy for university program support by removing it from the research and development accounts. Extracts covering the university programs and the entire Senate report are available.

Public Witness Testimony by the Health Physics Society (HPS) and Health Physics Program Directors Organization (HPPDO) for the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee for Energy and Water Development regarding the Department of Energy Office of Nuclear Energy (13 April 2007).

House Report 110-185 giving the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development report on the appropriations bill, which does not appropriate any money to the Department of Energy for university program support but adds funds to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for university scholarships, fellowships, and junior faculty grants.  Extracts covering the university programs and the entire House report are available.

Department of Energy fiscal year 2008 budget submittal for university programs

Fiscal Year 2007

Senate Report 109-274 (extract) giving the Senate Energy and Water Appropriations Committee's appropriations for Department of Energy University Support, specifically identifying health physics program support (29 June 2006).

House Report 109-474 (extract) giving the House Energy and Water Appropriations Committee's appropriations for Department of Energy University Support (19 May 2006).

Senators Voinovich and Bingaman "Dear Colleague" letter asking for support for restoring funding for the University Reactor Fuel Assistance and Support Program (28 March 2006).

Nuclear Energy Research Advisory Committee letter to Department of Energy Secretary Bodman expressing concern about the elimination of the University Reactor Fuel Assistance and Support Program from the FY2007 budget (7 March 2006).

Fiscal Year 2006

House Report 109-275 (extract) giving the Energy and Water Appropriations Conference Committee's appropriations for Department of Energy University Support (7 November 2005).

Senate Report 109-84 (extract) giving the Senate Energy and Water Appropriations Committee's appropriations for Department of Energy University Support, specifically identifying health physics program support (16 June 2005).

House Report 109-86 (extract) giving the House Energy and Water Appropriations Committee's appropriations for Department of Energy University Support (18 May 2005).

Student Scholarships and Fellowships

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