Department of Energy:

Poor Management of Nuclear Materials Tracking System Makes Success Unlikely

AIMD-95-165: Published: Aug 3, 1995. Publicly Released: Sep 5, 1995.

Additional Materials:

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Department of Energy's (DOE) progress in developing a new nuclear materials tracking system, focusing on: (1) DOE actions to implement previous GAO recommendations concerning the system; and (2) whether DOE is adequately addressing key system development risks.

GAO found that: (1) DOE has not implemented any of the GAO recommendations regarding new system planning and analysis and has no plans to do so because it believes its planning is sufficient and delaying the system would lead to unnecessary costs; (2) DOE does not know if its new system will meet users' needs or be cost-effective; (3) DOE has not addressed the subcontractor's failure to document its system development process and to place its software under configuration management, or its failure to require acceptance testing before taking delivery of the system and plan for parallel operations of the new and old systems to check the new system's performance; and (4) the risk of system failure is high, since DOE does not know the status of the system development effort or whether certain system components will perform as required.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: In its official response to the report, the Department of Energy stated that it did not agree with the recommendation. Further, DOE told GAO that the replacement NMMSS began operating as the U.S. government's system of record on September 1, 1995.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Energy should immediately terminate any further development of the replacement Nuclear Materials Management and Safeguards Systems (NMMSS).

    Agency Affected: Department of Energy

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOE proceeded with its transition to the replacement NMMSS on September 1, 1995, without sound analysis or planning and without formal system development documentation. In addition, the subcontractor developing the system had not placed its software under configuration management, and DOE began using the system without requiring that it pass acceptance testing. DOE later stated that it would attempt to rectify weaknesses in the systems development by requiring the NMMSS subcontractor to develop a software configuration management plan and other system design documentation for this effort. Certain project documentation, including a Software Design Description, Test Summary Report, and NMMSS Project Plan, has now been completed. In addition, based on its review and assessment of NMMSS documentation, the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory formally accepted the system in March 1997.

    Recommendation: If, after thorough planning, the Office of Nonproliferation and National Security proceeds with plans to develop a new Nuclear Materials Management and Safeguards System (NMMSS), it should follow generally accepted system development practices.

    Agency Affected: Department of Energy: Office of Nonproliferation and National Security

  3. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: In its official response to the report, the Department of Energy stated that it did not agree with the recommendation. Further, DOE stopped using the old tracking system and began using the replacement system on September 1, 1995.

    Recommendation: In the interim, DOE should continue using the existing NMMSS until the above recommendations are addressed.

    Agency Affected: Department of Energy

 

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