Nuclear Science:

DOE's Acceptance of Academy of Sciences' 1986 Inertial Fusion Technical Priorities

RCED-90-115FS: Published: Mar 15, 1990. Publicly Released: Mar 15, 1990.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed aspects of the Department of Energy's (DOE) Inertial Confinement Fusion (ICF) program, focusing on: (1) the National Academy of Sciences' (NAS) 1986 review panel recommendations concerning ICF program priorities, which recommendations DOE accepted; and (2) DOE use and application of the recommendations in negotiating the ICF contract.

GAO found that: (1) the NAS report listed priority areas for the ICF program to pursue in the 5 subsequent years; (2) DOE directed its program toward the technical priority recommendations, while ICF laboratories responded in their individual programs; (3) program objectives, major laboratories' capabilities, and smaller programs' roles had either been strengthened or pursued; (4) NAS-recommended funding was inadequate because of inflation, and some laboratories did not meet program objectives; (5) DOE and some of the laboratories gave advanced laser development a higher priority than recommended, which caused the ICF program to be distracted from orderly scientific progress; and (6) based on NAS recommendation, DOE made contractor fabrication and delivery of components the highest priorities under the ICF contract.

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