Nuclear Science:

History and Management of the DOE/Air Force Small Reactor Project

RCED-88-138: Published: May 26, 1988. Publicly Released: Jun 29, 1988.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information regarding the joint Department of Energy (DOE) and Air Force Small Reactor Project, focusing on its origin, history, and funding.

GAO found that: (1) using DOE discretionary funds, the DOE laboratory at Los Alamos initiated the project in June 1983 to determine whether a small nuclear reactor could satisfy the Air Force's electric power needs; (2) the laboratory obtained vendor participation and designs, formed project support groups, and prepared a formal plan to obtain DOE funding; (3) DOE and the Air Force found faults in the laboratory's feasibility study; (4) DOE assigned project management to one of its operations offices in early 1984, citing its more appropriate role in nuclear reactor technology; (5) laboratory and Air Force officials cited project-related disagreements as influencing the DOE reassignment of project management; (6) lack of coordination or communication with the laboratory caused the operations office to duplicate some of the laboratory's activities; (7) the Air Force transferred its project responsibility to another division, which recommended termination, citing the Senate's denial of its request to use military construction funds, anticipated budgetary constraints, and the lack of adequate requirements definition; (8) the project's total cost was $3.75 million, consisting of $450,000 from the DOE laboratory and $3.3 million from DOE; and (9) the Air Force reimbursed DOE $540,000 for its share of project costs in fiscal years 1986 and 1987.

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