Nuclear Waste:

Nevada's Use of Nuclear Waste Grant Funds

RCED-96-72: Published: Mar 20, 1996. Publicly Released: Apr 1, 1996.

Additional Materials:

Contact:

Victor S. Rezendes
(202) 512-6082
contact@gao.gov

 

Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800
youngc1@gao.gov

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed Nevada's use of Department of Energy (DOE) nuclear waste grant funds, focusing on: (1) whether Nevada has used federal funds for prohibited purposes; (2) what controls DOE has in place to ensure that Nevada appropriately spends its federal funds; and (3) whether DOE has recovered previously identified misspent federal funds.

GAO found that: (1) Nevada inappropriately used grant funds to publicize its opposition to the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository; (2) Nevada improperly used appropriated funds to contract for a videotape that was designed to influence Congress; (3) there was insufficient documentation to determine whether another contractor engaged in prohibited activities; (4) Nevada inappropriately supported a 1993 multistate tour, since the tour's primary purpose was to create public opposition to the repository in other states; (5) there was no evidence that Nevada inappropriately used grant funds in its litigation against two local governments; (6) since fiscal year (FY) 1992, controls to ensure that Nevada did not misspend grant funds included DOE reviews of Nevada's program plans, Nevada's certifications that it appropriately used grant funds, and independent audits of Nevada's use of grant funds; (7) Nevada has not corrected previously identified internal control weaknesses relating to documentation supporting expenditures of grant funds; (8) although DOE recovered about $75,000 of $1.054 million in misspent grant funds, it has decided that $670,000 of these funds were either allowable or unrecoverable; (9) DOE has no record of its decision regarding the remaining $309,000; and (10) in FY 1995, Nevada spent $1.5 million to operate its nuclear waste project office, $346,000 for contractors, and $59,000 for legal services, and paid $3.495 million to local government and other state agencies.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOE contracted with an independent auditor to review GAO's findings. The auditors concluded that $198,252 in federal funds expended by Nevada were not spent in accordance with federal law and that there was insufficient documentation supporting the expenditure of another $493,583. Therefore, on June 11, 1998, DOE notified Nevada that it would not approve any withdrawals that would take the balance of grant funds below $691,835--the sum of the questioned amounts. After providing the state with an opportunity to provide additional support for the questioned expenditures, DOE, in a letter dated September 9, 1998, notified Nevada that it would reallocate the questioned funds as its means of recouping the funds.

    Recommendation: To better ensure that grant funds are adequately protected and that the recipients of these funds comply with the applicable laws and regulations, the Secretary of Energy should determine the amount of grant funds expended by Nevada for prohibited purposes, including the expenditures questioned in the 1990 GAO report that DOE has not resolved, and, where appropriate, seek repayment of the prohibited expenditures.

    Agency Affected: Department of Energy

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOE adopted an alternative strategy for ensuring that Nevada's internal controls over grant funds comply with federal standards. This should accomplish the objective of better ensuring that grant funds are adequately protected and that fund recipients comply with applicable laws and regulations. To ensure that there is a common understanding on the permissible uses of nuclear waste funds provided to Nevada, DOE is providing guidelines on the statutory restrictions applicable to expenditure of Nuclear Waste Fund monies to the state, counties in Nevada and California that receive Nuclear Waste Funds grant monies, and the agency designated under the Single Audit Act to audit the state's use of federal funds. DOE intends to provide the guidelines when Congress appropriates funds for the state's nuclear waste oversight function. DOE intends to request that the designated audit agency audit the state's and the counties' expenditures of future waste fund monies against those restrictions.

    Recommendation: To better ensure that grant funds are adequately protected and that the recipients of these funds comply with the applicable laws and regulations, the Secretary of Energy should ensure that Nevada's internal controls over grant funds comply with federal standards.

    Agency Affected: Department of Energy

 

Explore the full database of GAO's Open Recommendations »

Sep 26, 2016

Aug 15, 2016

Jul 26, 2016

Jul 21, 2016

Jul 14, 2016

Jul 7, 2016

Jun 14, 2016

Looking for more? Browse all our products here