What is the History of the NMMSS?

U.S. Department of Energy / U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Nuclear Materials Management & Safeguards System

What is the History of the NMMSS?

Early History

Nuclear material accounting data was generally kept in manual form between the early 1940s and the start of the Nuclear Materials Information System (NMIS), the system that preceded the NMMSS. Some of the larger U.S. facilities were using computers before the NMIS, a fact that was persuasive in deciding to build a national system in the early 1960s.

In the early 1940s, there were no government accounting standards of any significance for nuclear materials. Records were kept in considerable detail but there was little standardization among facilities. In 1948, the first standard procedures were established and those procedures, although primitive, have served as a foundation for the procedures used today. When the Atomic Energy Act of 1954 was implemented, a comprehensive set of procedures was developed by the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC). For the first time, facilities had for their use a set of accounting requirements incorporating the generally accepted accounting principles of the accounting profession. The nuclear materials accounting profession began to come of age.

The AEC policies and procedures were contained in directives called Manual Chapters and Appendixes. The first of these directives covering the material accounting requirements was contained in AEC Manual Appendix 7401, Control of Source and Special (SS) Materials.

Until the NRC became an independent agency in 1975, by passage of the Energy Reorganization Act of 1974, the AEC was responsible for both the government's nuclear programs and the regulation of the domestic private nuclear industry. The government programs and the private sector accounted for nuclear materials under slightly different rules -- the nature of operations being a factor. The use of different accounting forms can be cited as illustrative. The commercial sector used the AEC Form 388 to report transaction data and Form 578 to report material balance data. The government operations used Forms 101 and 577, respectively. Different forms were used even though both licensees and government facilities were controlled by the AEC. The forms used today, 741 and 742, were first used by all facilities on July 1, 1970, as AEC forms.

System Development

In the early 1960s, the AEC engaged the Stanford Research Institute (SRI) to perform a study into the feasibility of developing a headquarters management information system on nuclear materials. The SRI team, under the leadership of Dr. Edwin Kinderman, recommended such a system be developed. The SRI study, reported in 1966, was delayed as specifics of the system design were debated. The report was issued at last and made the point that such a central data base would allow application of statistical techniques to evaluate shipper-receiver differences and book physical inventory differences and unaccounted for materials. Statistical techniques such as these were not feasible with data available from systems that existed at that time. In 1963, the General Manager of the AEC appointed a task force to develop plans for a system meeting the SRI recommendations.

The new system was to serve eight headquarters divisions that were significant users of nuclear materials information. Interestingly, the needs of the operations offices were considered secondary, and some of the larger operations offices believed the system was unnecessary. The total system was to be developed and implemented in stages, progressively putting the components in place as they were developed.

The sixties period was one that saw the birth of many management information systems in the U.S. In the AEC, the NMIS was one of three large such systems built. The others were the Financial Information System (FIS) and the Contracts Information System (CIS). Actually, the AEC information systems managers proposed to build a massive integrated Management Information System (MIS) that would include these three systems and 24 others. In the early years of NMIS, it was referred to as the MIS-NMIS, a subsystem of the AEC MIS. The AEC head of MIS development was Mr. Charles Getz.

A key figure in the development of the NMIS was Darrell Hyde of the Union Carbide Nuclear Division in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. The key headquarters organization was the Division of Nuclear Materials Management and Russ Weber was the NMIS manager. Darrell Hyde worked closely with materials management staff and showed, by using a demonstration module, that the system concept was feasible. A sample of data was placed in the system and several management reports were produced. Data for the demonstration was provided to Hyde by the Nuclear Materials Management Division. The data was taken from field office reports provided to headquarters. The demonstration proved to be impressive to headquarters divisions and the Union Carbide Nuclear Division was requested to build and operate a full-scale system.

Milestones on NMMSS History

The SRI study recommended the system be built1963
NMIS development began at Oak Ridge, Tennessee1964
Inventory and MBR data were added to the system1965
Transaction data collection began1968
Formation of ERDA and NRC and separation of NMMSS oversight1975
NMIS is renamed and becomes the NMMSS1976
International data backfit began after passage of the NNPA1979
System transferred to NAC and began operation on a PC platform1995
System became Year 2000 compliant1998
Obligations Accounting begins
Reduction of Owner Codes2003
Task Team Review of Changes to DOE NMMSS Requirements2005

Union Carbide was the logical choice to build the new system. At that time, they operated three nuclear plants in Oak Ridge (Y-12, X-10 and K-25) and the uranium enrichment plant in Paducah, Kentucky. In addition, the Oak Ridge Operations office maintained the accounting records of the nuclear materials in commercial nuclear facilities, a task performed for the AEC headquarters. This concentration of activities in Oak Ridge and the extensive use of computers by Union Carbide made the likelihood of success very high.

The first operation of the NMIS was on the IBM 7090 computer. At that time, computer data was kept externally on magnetic tapes and punched cards. Direct access devices, such as disk drives, were later innovations.

The first nuclear materials in NMIS accounting were of 12 types:

            Materials and Type Codes, 1970Type

Depleted U
Enriched U
Enriched Li
Normal U
U in Cascades

The system began tracking Helium-3 in 1969 and discontinued tracking it in July 1978. Normal and depleted lithium were reported by contractors beginning in 1971 and discontinued two years later. In 1974, six types of material in the transplutonium and transuranium group were added and have remained in the system. These material types are as follows:

Additional Materials, 1974


The name of the system was changed to the Nuclear Materials Management and Safeguards System (NMMSS) in 1976 to reflect the increasing use of the system in nuclear materials safeguards in relation to other uses. The system has also been managed by nuclear materials safeguards organizations since that time.

Inventory Data

Prior to NMMSS, operations offices and headquarters offices prepared inventory reports for users based on feeder reports forwarded by AEC contractors and by Oak Ridge Operations Office for licensees. This was time-consuming work for the AEC materials accountants. Selected data was summarized or consolidated to be more useful to program managers. The advent of the NMMSS radically changed and reduced the AEC efforts. The facility reports were called COEI reports, or Composition of Ending Inventory reports. The NMMSS became the generator of COEI reports that were used both by the AEC organizations and the facilities themselves. Over time, these reports became more useful as composition codes were expanded and project numbers were extended to more nuclear programs.

Today, the DOE still relies on COEI reports for materials management activities. The nature of NRC activities does not warrant such detail reporting. Thus, licensees to this day are not required to report detailed inventory data, except for the facilities selected for application of IAEA safeguards.

DOE contractors report inventory data at various cycles, some as frequently as monthly, but most report on a quarterly basis. The NMMSS generates quarterly inventory reports for licensee and foreign accounts.

Material Balance Data

Both NRC licensees and DOE contractors are required to report material balance data. But rather than submit M-742s to the system, contractors reconcile a NMMSS-generated M-742 report with their own accounting system. The use of reported inventory data and transaction data enables the system to generate all other data comprising the material balance report. As an example, comparisons of the reported facility inventory and the NMMSS generated inventory result in any inventory difference shown on the report.

In the early years, Form AEC-577 was used by AEC contractors to report material balance data. Form AEC-578 was used by licensees. Reporting to the NMIS began in 1965. In 1970, these forms were replaced by Form AEC-742 for both contractors and licensees. Today the form is DOE/NRC 742.

The changes of form numbers occurred concurrently with a new reporting structure. The 577 was a consolidated field office report and the 588 was a consolidation of all licensee material. The consolidation was done at the Oak Ridge Operations office. Today, 742 Forms are prepared by facilities and sent directly to the NMMSS.

Transaction Data

The NMIS began collecting transaction data on July 1, 1967. Transaction data is required for transfers, foreign retransfers, operating losses, inventory differences, burnup, contract reclassifications, origin swaps, project number changes, and other changes affecting inventory data.

In fiscal year 1968, transaction data was mailed on a weekly basis to the NMIS by field offices that coded transcription sheets based on data collected from facilities. In November 1971, facilities were authorized to mail data directly to the system operator, thus improving the timeliness of data entry into the system. At about this time, the system began processing data on a daily basis. At a later date, some facilities began using computer communications links directly to the computer center. These facilities were typically the AEC's large production plants.

One of the best safeguards features of the NMMSS is the comparison of shipper and receiver data on domestic shipments of nuclear material. The system serves as the impartial third party in highlighting differences and providing DOE and NRC the initial data necessary to investigate events and trends.

International Data Backfit

In 1979, a two-year task of loading historical data pertaining to U.S. international transactions into the NMMSS was completed. The task consisted of coding international transaction data from shipment files, in the form of NMMSS transactions, dating back to January 1950, and adding it to the NMMSS. Exports, imports and retransfers of nuclear materials data were included.

Thus, the international transaction data in the NMMSS covers a greater historical period than domestic transactions. Although there are some minor gaps in the data, and comparison of the data to that maintained by our foreign trading partners is incomplete, it is a reasonably reliable source of information.

From Mainframe to PC

During the late 1980s and early 1990s, the DOE and NRC sponsors of the system began discussing the need to transfer the system from a mainframe computer to a PC platform. The operating costs of the aging legacy system continued to grow and it was realized that any expansion of the system into international safeguards would require very costly upgrades. Consideration of this problem led to the move of the system on September 1, 1995. On that date the NMMSS began operations at Norcross, Georgia as the system of record on a PC platform.

Obligations Accounting

Effective October 1, 2003 the NMMSS began collecting information on transactions and material balances that reported foreign accounting obligations. This tracking mechanism replaced country control number (CCN) data that had been used from 1980 to September 20, 2003. The CCN method was replaced because it was too rigid to accommodate multiple country flags on a single item or to accommodate portions of material quantities with country flags.

Reduction of Owner Codes

In an effort to simplify NMMSS reporting, on October 1, 2003, the number of owner codes was reduced from eight to two. The previous owner codes were:

Owner Code
Type of Ownership of Material
ADOE-owned, Lease or Loan Agreement Waiver of Use Charge (Domestic)
BDOE-owned, Lease or Loan Agreement Non-Waiver of Use Charge (Domestic)
HOwned by Other U.S. Government Agencies
JPrivately Owned (Domestic)
RForeign Owned
SDOE-owned, Lease or Loan Agreement (Foreign)

These owner codes were combined into two codes as depicted in the following table:

Owner Code
Includes Previous Owner Codes
Type of Ownership of Material
GA, B, G, SDOE-owned
JH, J, R, UPrivately Owned

Task Team Review of Changes to DOE NMMSS Requirements

In 2005, a task team conducted a review of DOE NMMSS reporting requirements in pursuit of the objective of reducing DOE and NRC NMMSS reporting differences and to update the NMMSS to reflect the DOE’s current material accounting information needs. The review led to either elimination or change in certain reporting requirements and identified other requirements that could lead to further changes in facility reporting. The following changes were included in DOE M 470.4-6, Nuclear Material Control and Accountability, approved August 26, 2005:

    Elimination of the special meaning of the three-character RIS letters

    Discontinued Berkelium reporting in NMMSS

    Discontinued the requirement to report inventory difference (ID) explanation data to NMMSS

    Changed the requirement for submission of receipt transactions on imports from 3 days to 10 days

    Deleted the requirement to report variable tails assay option code

    Changed inventory submittal frequency requirement from quarterly to annually

    Changed inventory reconciliation frequency requirement from semiannual to annual

    Reduced the requirement for reporting radioactive decay to a frequency no less than annually with inventory submission

The following changes were included in DOE M 470.4-6, Change 1, issued August 14, 2006:

    Elimination of ANSI Scrap Code reporting

    Elimination of DOE facility inventory profile requirement

    Inclusion of INMTS reporting procedure

    Changed back reference reporting from required to optional

    Added annual foreign obligation reconciliation requirement

NMMSS is sponsored by the Office of Materials Integration within the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission