Major Management Challenges and Program Risks:

Department of Energy

OCG-99-6: Published: Jan 1, 1999. Publicly Released: Jan 1, 1999.

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Victor S. Rezendes
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As part of its Performance and Accountability Series, GAO provided information on major management challenges and program risks facing the Department of Energy (DOE).

GAO noted that: (1) DOE has had difficulty completing large projects on time and within budget; (2) from 1980 through 1996, DOE terminated 31 of 80 major system acquisitions (mission-critical projects costing over $100 million) before completion, after expenditures of over $10 billion, and completed only 15, most of which were behind schedule and over budget; (3) with few exceptions, DOE's facilities are not licensed or inspected by independent regulators to help ensure safe operations; (4) the Department's own advisory committee concluded that widespread environmental contamination at DOE facilities and the immense costs associated with their cleanup provide clear evidence that self-regulation has failed; (5) while DOE agreed to external regulation in these areas, its commitment appears to be lagging; (6) DOE's ineffective organizational structure blurs accountability, allowing problems to go undetected and remain uncorrected; (7) DOE relies on contractors to perform about 90 percent of its work; (8) recently, it has significantly increased its use of competition in selecting contractors to manage and operate its major facilities, but it should do more; (9) however, it is still not competitively awarding contracts for environmental restoration work at its national laboratories, even though it does so at other facilities; (10) in addition, although DOE originally planned to shift risk from the federal government to private contractors as a means of enhancing their performance, it now considers risk-sharing more appropriate; (11) DOE's staff lack technical and management skills needed to oversee complex operations; (12) finding enough staff with the necessary skills presents a serious challenge to DOE, particularly in light of recent downsizing initiatives; (13) to correct performance and management challenges, DOE developed a strategic plan for contract reform in 1994; (14) in addition, during the early 1990s, DOE conducted or commissioned several studies of the missions and organization of its national laboratories; (15) DOE completed strategic and annual performance plans under the Results Act; and (16) these plans responded to reported criticisms of DOE's operations and established goals and measures for improved performance.

Below are the reports in this series:

High-Risk Series: An Update HR-99-1, Jan 1, 1999

Performance and Accountability Series:

Major Management Challenges and Risks: An Executive Summary OCG-99-ES, Feb 1, 1999

Major Management Challenges and Risks: A Governmentwide Perspective OCG-99-1, Jan 1, 1999

Major Management Challenges and Risks: Department of Agriculture OCG-99-2, Jan 1, 1999

Major Management Challenges and Risks: Department of Commerce OCG-99-3, Jan 1, 1999

Major Management Challenges and Risks: Department of Defense OCG-99-4, Jan 1, 1999

Major Management Challenges and Risks: Department of Education OCG-99-5, Jan 1, 1999

Major Management Challenges and Risks: Department of Energy OCG-99-6, Jan 1, 1999

Major Management Challenges and Risks: Department of Health and Human Services OCG-99-7, Jan 1, 1999

Major Management Challenges and Risks: Department of Housing and Urban Development OCG-99-8, Jan 1, 1999

Major Management Challenges and Risks: Department of the Interior OCG-99-9, Jan 1, 1999

Major Management Challenges and Risks: Department of Justice OCG-99-10, Jan 1, 1999

Major Management Challenges and Risks: Department of Labor OCG-99-11, Jan 1, 1999

Major Management Challenges and Risks: Department of State OCG-99-12, Jan 1, 1999

Major Management Challenges and Risks: Department of Transportation OCG-99-13, Jan 1, 1999

Major Management Challenges and Risks: Department of the Treasury OCG-99-14, Jan 1, 1999

Major Management Challenges and Risks: Department of Veterans Affairs OCG-99-15, Jan 1, 1999

Major Management Challenges and Risks: Agency for International Development OCG-99-16, Jan 1, 1999

Major Management Challenges and Risks: Environmental Protection Agency OCG-99-17, Jan 1, 1999

Major Management Challenges and Risks: National Aeronautics and Space Administration OCG-99-18, Jan 1, 1999

Major Management Challenges and Risks: Nuclear Regulatory Commission OCG-99-19, Jan 1, 1999

Major Management Challenges and Risks: Social Security Administration OCG-99-20, Jan 1, 1999

Major Management Challenges and Program Risks: U.S. Postal Service OCG-99-21, Jan 1, 1999

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