Fourth Edition of NTI Index Underway

There are too many trite adages about data and decision-making to count: “You can’t manage what you can’t measure”; “Good data leads to good decisions"; or one of my personal favorites, “In God we trust. All others must bring data.” With sophisticated analytical tools on every hard drive and cheap digital storage, decision-makers today have access to terabytes of information. But good data on which to base decisions can be hard to find. Unfortunately, solid, actionable evidence that can be measured and analyzed to improve outcomes often exists but is not easy to access or analyze.

In 2011, NTI recognized that there was a gap in accessible data and information related to the security of nuclear materials around the world. Working with the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), NTI gathered and analyzed information related to global nuclear security conditions from international organizations and from governments with and without weapons-usable nuclear materials and offered recommendations for improving the security around some of the world’s potentially deadliest materials. The evaluation of national-level rules for managing nuclear materials, sites, and facilities done across three biennial reports to date (in 2012, 2014 and 2016) allows countries to compare their performance to and learn from others with similar risks—whether related to theft of large quantities of highly enriched uranium or sabotage of nuclear power reactors. NTI publishes the data and rankings in full as a transparent check on the accuracy and rigor of the analysis.

Several months ago, NTI and the EIU started work on the fourth edition of the NTI Index, to be published in September 2018. We are updating the data to give credit to countries that have made improvements and to identify those who should take additional actions. As in other editions of the NTI Index, we will supply the data, analyze it and offer recommendations, but responsibility for improvements falls to national governments. 

The indicators use to develop the Index were established by NTI and EIU with the help of an International Panel of Experts, and no single country holds a perfect record in the NTI Index. Countries that scored well in 2016, such as Australia and Finland, reaffirmed their commitment to “implementing measures to reduce the threat of nuclear weapons,” and it’s clear the Index helped clarify their priorities. In a progress report to the 2016 Nuclear Security Summit, the Finnish government touted its scores and called out the need for “continuous improvement of the state nuclear security regime…to address the present and changing threat.”

The international community has been receptive to the Index process. All governments are offered an opportunity to confirm the accuracy of the EIU’s collected data and this month, my NTI colleagues and I began briefing government representatives in Washington about the review process. Governments will have six-to-eight weeks to review initial information collected and to engage directly with EIU analysts by, for example, confirming the meaning of regulatory language or notifying analysts of ongoing developments that could impact a score.  

For previous editions of the NTI Index, more than half of governments with weapons-usable nuclear materials participated in the process by reviewing and confirming the data. This year, we are calling on governments to contribute once again and to confirm the EIU's preliminary analysis. 



January 16, 2018
Erin Dumbacher
Erin Dumbacher

Program Officer, Scientific and Technical Affairs

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