Status of Bonneville Power Administration's Efforts To Improve Its Oversight of Three Nuclear Power Projects

RCED-84-27: Published: Aug 3, 1984. Publicly Released: Aug 3, 1984.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Bonneville Power Administration's (BPA) oversight of three nuclear projects being constructed by the Washington Public Power Supply System.

GAO found that the construction history of the projects reflects substantial cost overruns and schedule delays. Under its agreements with the System, BPA has certain oversight rights and authorities, including the authority to disapprove the System's annual budgets, access System and project contractor books, access information on project planning and construction, and maintain a representative at the project sites. GAO noted in an earlier report that, while these agreements allowed BPA the right to monitor and critique System actions, they did not give BPA the ability to participate fully in the System's decisionmaking process. It was also found that BPA was not reviewing and monitoring System reorganizations and staff reductions to ensure that they were consistent with efficient operations and management. GAO stated that procedures are needed to ensure that BPA is monitoring all facets of plant management and taking full advantage of all available oversight authorities. Further, BPA should be in a position not only to anticipate problems at the System, but to assist in their early resolution.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The agency does not believe that any further action is needed to address the specific problems identified in the report.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Energy should have the Administrator, BPA, take the following steps to strengthen the BPA oversight program. BPA should clearly and specifically define its organizational roles and policies and adopt procedures for implementing its oversight objectives in both functional and organizational terms. The guidelines should define responsibilities for accomplishing oversight objectives and the interrelationships between the various BPA groups involved in oversight. BPA should also provide for effective coordination between these groups with oversight responsibilities and identify organizational channels through which problems are to be resolved. The guidelines should be in sufficient detail to ensure that staff members are aware of their responsibilities and how they are expected to accomplish them.

    Agency Affected: Department of Energy

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The agency does not believe that any further action is needed to address the specific problems identified in the report.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Energy should have the Administrator, BPA, take the following steps to strengthen the BPA oversight program. BPA should outline how it intends to implement its contractual oversight authorities, both those contained in the project agreements and in the Memorandum of Understanding, to support the achievement of its oversight objectives. Specifically, BPA at a minimum should conduct line-item budget reviews, provide audit coverage adequate to address high priority audit areas, reach agreement with System management on a process which will ensure staff notification and attendance at appropriate meetings, and comprehensively review and monitor System staffing and organizational format to ensure full support for the objectives of the oversight program. After completing its oversight goals, policies, and procedures, BPA should review its oversight staffing and organizational format to ensure that they are adequate and appropriate to support a comprehensive oversight program.

    Agency Affected: Department of Energy

 

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