Chemical Weapons Disposal:

Plans for Nonstockpile Chemical Warfare Materiel Can Be Improved

NSIAD-95-55: Published: Dec 20, 1994. Publicly Released: Dec 22, 1994.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Army's nonstockpile disposal program, focusing on: (1) the Army's planning process for the nonstockpile disposal program; (2) the Army's estimated disposal cost and schedule; and (3) applicable lessons learned from the Army's stockpile disposal program.

GAO found that: (1) the Army has not finalized plans for its nonstockpile disposal program because it has not fully identified the amount of materiel to be destroyed or appropriate disposal methods; (2) the Army believes it can dispose of binary chemical weapons within 10 years for $190 million, miscellaneous chemical warfare materiel within 5 years for $210 million, and recovered chemical weapons within 10 years for $110 million; (3) the Army has limited information on buried chemical warfare materiel, which it estimates will take 40 years to find and destroy at a cost of $16.6 billion; (4) the Army's nonstockpile disposal program will likely be affected by the same issues as the stockpile program, including compliance with federal, state, and local laws and regulations, obtaining environmental approvals and permits, and strong public opposition to chemical weapons incineration and transportation; (5) although the Army said it applied lessons learned from the stockpile disposal program to the nonstockpile disposal program, its 1993 survey and analysis report on the nonstockpile program did not discuss those lessons; and (6) the Army's estimated cost and schedule for the nonstockpile disposal program are likely to increase, since the Army has limited experience in destroying nonstockpile materiel and will likely encounter difficulties similar to those experienced in the stockpile disposal program.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Army officials agree that lessons learned from the chemical stockpile disposal program should be incorporated into the nonstockpile chemical materiel program and, when warranted, informally incorporates lessons learned into the nonstockpile program. However, Army officials do not plan to develop a systematic process to incorporate lessons learned into the nonstockpile program.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Army should ensure that lessons learned from the stockpile disposal program are systematically incorporated into the nonstockpile planning process.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOD designated the Army's chemical disposal program as a major acquisition program. As a result of the designation, the Army developed a cost and schedule baseline, prepares quarterly reports on cost and schedule, and reports annually to the Congress on variances from the baseline.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Army should establish milestones for developing accurate and complete cost data to effectively plan for and control future program expenditures.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense: Department of the Army

 

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