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Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board: Improvements Needed to Strengthen Internal Control and Promote Transparency [Reissued on March 2, 2015]
GAO-15-181: Published: Jan 20, 2015. Publicly Released: Feb 19, 2015.
Until 2013, the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board (DNFSB) had few written policies and procedures for its Board members and technical staff work, and some policies and procedures recently developed for the Board were not consistently followed. For example, Board procedures call for the Board to approve and implement an annual resource plan that would prioritize DNFSB's work for the coming ye...
Federal Research: DOE Is Addressing Invention Disclosure and Other Challenges but Needs a Plan to Guide Data Management Improvements
GAO-15-212: Published: Jan 30, 2015. Publicly Released: Mar 2, 2015.
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) provided at least a total of $11 billion ($12 billion in fiscal year 2014 dollars) in research and development funding to contractors for fiscal years 2009 through 2013. Contractors reported about 5,800 inventions and 700 patents developed with DOE funding during this time period. To ensure disclosure of these agency funded inventions, DOE relies primarily on co...
DOE Real Property: Better Data and a More Proactive Approach Needed to Facilitate Property Disposal
GAO-15-305: Published: Feb 25, 2015. Publicly Released: Feb 25, 2015.
From 2003 through 2013, the Department of Energy's (DOE) Office of Environmental Management (EM)—the office responsible for the deactivation and decommissioning (D&D) of the agency's contaminated facilities—disposed of nearly 2,000 facilities across 19 sites in 13 states, according to EM data. The majority of these facilities were disposed of through demolition because of their contamination l...
Improper Payments: DOE's Risk Assessments Should Be Strengthened
GAO-15-36: Published: Dec 23, 2014. Publicly Released: Dec 23, 2014.
The Department of Energy (DOE) developed a process to assess its programs for risks of improper payments, but its assessments do not fully evaluate risk. To comply with the Improper Payments Elimination and Recovery Act of 2010 (IPERA), in fiscal year 2011, DOE directed its programs to develop risk assessments using eight qualitative risk factors, such as recent major changes in program funding, a...
Hanford Cleanup: Condition of Tanks May Further Limit DOE's Ability to Respond to Leaks and Intrusions
GAO-15-40: Published: Nov 25, 2014. Publicly Released: Dec 16, 2014.
From 2012 to 2014, the Department of Energy (DOE) assessed the physical condition of the 177 storage tanks at its Hanford, Washington, site in which it stores about 56 million gallons of nuclear waste and found them to be in worse condition than it assumed in 2011 when developing its schedule for emptying the tanks. For the 149 single-shell tanks (SST), DOE previously pumped nearly all of the liqu...
Nuclear Regulatory Commission: NRC Needs to Improve Its Cost Estimates by Incorporating More Best Practices
GAO-15-98: Published: Dec 12, 2014. Publicly Released: Dec 16, 2014.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission's (NRC) overall cost estimating procedures incorporate some best practice characteristics identified in the GAO Cost Estimating and Assessment Guide (Cost Guide), but not others, and do not adequately support the creation of reliable cost estimates (see table). For example, while the procedures include the best practice of developing an estimating plan by outlinin...
DOE and NNSA Project Management: Analysis of Alternatives Could Be Improved by Incorporating Best Practices
GAO-15-37: Published: Dec 11, 2014. Publicly Released: Dec 11, 2014.
GAO identified 24 best practices for analysis of alternatives (AOA)—a process that is a key first step in capital asset acquisition. The process entails identifying, analyzing, and selecting a preferred alternative to best meet the mission need by comparing the operational effectiveness, costs, and risks of potential alternatives. Because no single set of best practices for AOAs was broadly reco...
Nuclear Weapons: DOD's Plan for Implementing Nuclear Reductions Generally Addresses Statutory Requirements but Lacks Some Detail
GAO-15-89R: Published: Dec 11, 2014. Publicly Released: Dec 11, 2014.
Nuclear weapons have long been a cornerstone of the nation’s defense strategy. These weapons—deployed on strategic delivery systems, such as intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs), and nuclear-capable aircraft—have played an essential role in U.S. policy for deterring potential adversaries and assuring U.S. allies and other security partner...
Project and Program Management: DOE Needs to Revise Requirements and Guidance for Cost Estimating and Related Reviews
GAO-15-29: Published: Nov 25, 2014. Publicly Released: Nov 25, 2014.
The Department of Energy's (DOE) and its National Nuclear Security Administration's (NNSA) cost estimating requirements and guidance for projects and programs do not fully reflect best practices for developing cost estimates. In regard to cost estimating requirements for projects, DOE's 2010 project management order requires 1 of the 12 cost estimating best practices—conducting an independent co...
Department of Energy: Interagency Review Needed to Update U.S. Position on Enriched Uranium That Can Be Used for Tritium Production
GAO-15-123: Published: Oct 14, 2014. Publicly Released: Nov 14, 2014.
The Department of Energy (DOE) has adhered to its practice of using only unobligated low-enriched uranium (LEU) to meet national security needs for tritium—a radioactive isotope of hydrogen used to enhance the power of U.S. nuclear weapons. LEU is considered unobligated when neither the uranium nor the technology used to enrich it carries an “obligation” from a foreign country requiring that...