Nuclear Safety and Health:

Counterfeit and Substandard Products Are a Governmentwide Concern

RCED-91-6: Published: Oct 16, 1990. Publicly Released: Nov 27, 1990.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO examined the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's (NRC) and five other agencies' practices for identifying and preventing the supply of nonconforming products, including counterfeit and substandard parts.

GAO found that: (1) the supply of nonconforming products was a governmentwide problem, since all six agencies contacted found them in various components and systems; (2) although NRC took some actions to detect and minimize the incidence of nonconforming parts in commercial nuclear power plants, it deferred its regulatory responsibility by rescinding penalties and postponing inspections; (3) although individual agencies had programs to detect nonconforming parts, there was no governmentwide effort to address the issue; and (4) there was no centralized source of consolidated information on nonconforming products to increase information exchange and joint investigations among agencies.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: NRC has resumed quality assurance inspections.

    Recommendation: To help ensure an aggressive regulatory posture concerning the upgrading of commercial products that will be issued in nuclear power plants, the Chairman, NRC, should reinstitute inspections of utilities' quality assurance programs and take appropriate enforcement actions when violations occur.

    Agency Affected: Nuclear Regulatory Commission

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: OMB established a plan and policy as recommended on April 9, 1991.

    Recommendation: The Director, Office of Management and Budget (OMB), should develop an action plan and designate a lead agency to give priority to implementing the plan. The Director, OMB, should also direct the lead agency to develop a computerized information exchange system that provides on-line data entry and retrieval that all federal agencies can easily access on a day-to-day basis. The system should have appropriate safeguards to protect sensitive information.

    Agency Affected: Executive Office of the President: Office of Management and Budget


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