The assignments of the IRSN Scientific Council are defined in the founding Decree of the Institute. The Council issues opinions on the Institute's programmes and assesses their results. It can also make recommendations on the focus and priorities of the Institute's activities. Its opinions and recommendations are submitted to the Board of Directors and the Institute’s Supervisory Ministries.
The issues to be assessed are decided by the Scientific Council at plenary sessions. The Scientific Council creates an ad hoc committee for each issue. Each committee is chaired by one of its members (general case) and consists of experts selected from its members or external experts if considered necessary. The Scientific Council Chairman designates an IRSN coordinator to accompany the Committee Chairman and requests the unit assessed to appoint a person in charge.
The coordinator organizes a steering meeting, subject to the authority of the Scientific Council Chairman, with the Committee Chairman and the person in charge as a minimum. This meeting is intended to define contextual elements (scope, questions, schedule). The coordinator also reiterates the composition of the committee. These elements are formally recorded in a steering report, representing the specifications for the assessment.
After analysing the documents provided for the committee, one or several assessment meetings are organized. After these meetings, the assessment committee submits a draft assessment report to the Scientific Council at a plenary session for approval. This report is then presented to the unit assessed in compliance with their right to reply, and the unit may make comments. The report is amended if necessary and finally adopted by the Scientific Council.
The unit assessed then transmits an action plan to the Scientific Council Chairman in response to the recommendations of the report. This action plan is presented at a plenary session of the Scientific Council. After a period of 18 to 24 months, the unit assessed presents a report on the improvements undertaken to the Scientific Council.
The Council is also involved in the Institute's activities, in particular sitting on thesis committees and taking part in "thesis days" and scientific days.
The Chairman of the Board of Directors or the Supervisory Ministers may also consult the Scientific Council on research or technical operations in any of the Institute's fields. The Council's advice may be sought on any issue or operation to which IRSN is committed.
The Scientific Council meets twice a year in plenary session and may also hold smaller committee meetings when it deems necessary. Outside experts may be invited to these committee meetings to examine a particular topic or research programme more closely.
The twelve members of the Council are chosen on the basis of their scientific or technical skills. They are appointed for five years by a joint Order issued by the Supervisory Ministers.