Department of Energy:

Views on DOE's Plan to Establish the National Nuclear Security Administration

T-RCED-00-113: Published: Mar 2, 2000. Publicly Released: Mar 2, 2000.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO discussed its views on the Department of Energy's (DOE) Implementation Plan for the newly created National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA).

GAO noted that: (1) the Implementation Plan establishes a framework for the creation of NNSA, but it is not really a detailed roadmap that would position NNSA to correct DOE's longstanding problems; (2) DOE's Implementation Plan simply transfers many of DOE's historic shortcomings to NNSA; (3) in particular: (a) NNSA's organizational structure does not establish clear lines of authority or streamline the field structure; (b) NNSA is taking a "business as usual" approach to planning, programming, budgeting and securing skilled technical staff instead of affecting needed change as part of the Implementation Plan; (c) while NNSA was to be distinct from DOE, they have duplicative and overlapping functions; and (d) significant questions remain about the relationship between NNSA and DOE's organizations that oversee NNSA and DOE's line management to ensure effective security and environmental, safety, and health programs; (4) although GAO recognizes that the Implementation Plan is just the first step in an evolving process, GAO believes the best time to address these past problems is when the organization and systems are being laid out for the first time, before inefficiencies become second nature and commitments to old ways harden; (5) while NNSA is a new organization within DOE, it will be made up of DOE and contractor employees; (6) these employees have worked in a culture that has led to the myriad of management problems that NNSA was created to address; (7) for the new organization to be more effective, it must break out of the culture and mindset that permeates DOE; (8) to do this, for example, DOE must hold contractors as well as its employees more accountable for their performance; and (9) otherwise, problems inherent in DOE will continue in NNSA if DOE's culture is carried to the new agency along with the activities and personnel.

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