Nuclear Health and Safety:

More Can Be Done to Better Control Environmental Restoration Costs

RCED-92-71: Published: Apr 20, 1992. Publicly Released: Jun 4, 1992.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO examined the: (1) degree of cost growth associated with the Department of Energy's (DOE) environmental restoration program; and (2) steps DOE can take to better manage and control cost growth.

GAO found that: (1) since DOE has not updated or revised its 1988 total cost estimate for completing all environmental restoration work, GAO could not determine the aggregate cost growth associated with the environmental restoration program; (2) a comparison of DOE 5-year plans shows a 48-percent increase over the past 2 years in estimated funds necessary for fiscal years 1991 through 1995; (3) a detailed cost history for certain subprograms shows that between 1988 and 1991, overall estimated costs increased 61 percent; (4) DOE lacks such important management tools as comprehensive performance baselines for individual projects, a process for consistently estimating project costs, an information system capable of monitoring project-specific cost growth, and a system for sharing lessons-learned information; and (5) to better control cost growth, DOE has implemented initiatives to conduct program cost reviews, develop procedures that require preparing documentation to support cost estimates, and institute cost estimating review procedures.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOE completed baseline development and validation in June 1992.

    Recommendation: To improve the management of the environmental restoration program and better control cost growth, the Secretary of Energy should complete baselining of the environmental restoration program as soon as possible and monitor this baseline to ensure that changes made are in accordance with departmental guidance.

    Agency Affected: Department of Energy

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOE has developed a consistent cost estimating process and has committed to validating cost estimates annually.

    Recommendation: To improve the management of the environmental restoration program and better control cost growth, the Secretary of Energy should develop guidance specifying a consistent cost estimating process to be used throughout DOE and assess annually which environmental restoration projects should receive check estimates.

    Agency Affected: Department of Energy

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOE has developed a progress tracking system to track actual cost and schedules versus planned cost and milestones.

    Recommendation: To improve the management of the environmental restoration program and better control cost growth, the Secretary of Energy should establish a reliable management information system that will monitor the degree of and the reasons for environmental restoration cost growth and resolve any incompatibility between this system and individual information systems being developed by DOE field offices.

    Agency Affected: Department of Energy

  4. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: A DOE process improvement team developed a DOE lessons-learned standard in May 1995 that all DOE organizational programs must comply with in establishing their individual lessons-learned programs.

    Recommendation: To improve the management of the environmental restoration program and better control cost growth, the Secretary of Energy should, once the lessons-learned environmental restoration information system is developed, monitor its use to ensure that bad as well as good experiences are entered into the system and that mistakes are not repeated because the system is not used.

    Agency Affected: Department of Energy

 

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