Chemical Weapons Disposal:

Improvements Needed in Program Accountability and Financial Management

NSIAD-00-80: Published: May 8, 2000. Publicly Released: May 8, 2000.

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Pursuant to a legislative requirement, GAO reviewed the financial management of the Department of Defense's (DOD) Chemical Demilitarization Program, focusing on whether: (1) the program will meet the Chemical Weapons Convention timeframes within the costs projected; (2) obligations and liquidations of funds appropriated for the program have been adequately managed; and (3) the management structure of the program allows for coordinated accountability of the program.

GAO noted that: (1) the Army had destroyed approximately 17.7 percent of the chemical weapons stockpile as of January 31, 2000, and could destroy about 90 percent of the stockpile by the convention's 2007 deadline, given its recent progress and projected plans; (2) however, the Army may not meet the deadline for the remaining 10 percent of the stockpile because the incineration method of destruction has not been acceptable to two of the states where the chemical stockpile is located; (3) additionally, some of the nonstockpile materiel may not be destroyed before the deadline because the proposed method of destruction has not been proven safe and effective and accepted by state and local communities; (4) the Army's $14.9 billion estimate for program costs will likely increase due to: (a) the additional time required to develop and select disposal methods for the remaining 10 percent of the stockpile and for some of the nonstockpile chemical materiel; and (b) possible delays in demolition of a former chemical weapons production facility; (5) the Army has experienced significant problems in recent years in effectively managing the use of funds appropriated for the Chemical Demilitarization Program; (6) the Army reported that as of September 30, 1999, $498 million of the $3.1 billion appropriated for the program in fiscal years 1993 through 1998 was unliquidated; (7) in an assessment of interagency orders that account for $495.1 million of the unliquidated obligations, GAO found that $63.1 million had been liquidated but was not recorded in accounting records or included in financial reports prepared by the Defense Finance and Accounting Service; (8) of the remaining $432 million, most was for work completed but not yet billed by the contractor or verified by the Defense Contract Audit Agency or for work in progress but not yet completed; (9) effective management of the Chemical Demilitarization Program has been hindered by its complex management structure and ineffective coordination among program offices and with state and local officials; (10) coordination and communication among officials responsible for elements of the program have been inadequate, thus causing confusion about what actions would be taken at certain sites; (11) DOD and Army officials have not agreed on whether or when management roles, responsibilities, and accountability should be consolidated for destruction of the chemical stockpiles in Kentucky and Colorado; and (12) consequently, state and local officials have expressed concern that no single office is accountable for achieving the desired results of the Chemical Demilitarization Program.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Officials of the Office of the Secretary of Defense have been involved in monitoring and assisting the Army in its efforts to develop a systematic approach for ensuring the timely, effective expenditures of funds appropriated for the Chemical Demilitarization Program.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should monitor the Army's actions to develop a systematic approach for ensuring the timely, effective expenditure of funds appropriated for all elements of the Chemical Demilitarization Program.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Officials of the Office of the Secretary of Defense have assisted and monitored the Army's efforts to account for $10.4 million in unexplained, unliquidated obligations. After several months, the Army was able to account for the $10.4 million.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should monitor the Army's actions to direct program officials to account for the $10.4 million in unliquidated obligations that officials could not give an explanation for, or explain why the funds had not been liquidated.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: According to program officials, the Departments of Defense and the Army clarified the management roles and responsibilities of program participants, assigning accountability for program goals and results, and establishing procedures to improve coordination among the program elements and state and local officials.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Army to clarify the management roles and responsibilities of program participants, assign accountability for achieving program goals and results, and establish procedures to improve coordination among the program's various elements and with state and local officials.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense

 

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