Nuclear Weapons Complex:

GAO's Views on DOE's Reconfiguration Study

T-RCED-91-8: Published: Feb 25, 1991. Publicly Released: Feb 25, 1991.

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GAO discussed the Department of Energy's (DOE) efforts to develop a comprehensive plan to address its nuclear weapons complex's environmental and safety problems. GAO noted that the DOE nuclear weapons complex reconfiguration study: (1) represented the first phase of a long-term effort to develop a more detailed plan and a programmatic environmental impact statement that DOE expected to complete in 1993 on various alternatives for reconfiguring the complex; (2) recommended a smaller complex in the future, but did not specify the dimensions; (3) provided information on four possible complex size scenarios ranging from 15 percent to 70 percent of the fiscal year (FY) 1990 nuclear weapons stockpile; (4) recognized the need to stabilize nuclear weapons requirements and concluded that the Nuclear Weapons Council should specify sizing levels upon which to base the future complex; (5) provided only a limited discussion on how the nation would meet its future tritium requirements and manage its plutonium inventory; and (6) estimated reconfiguration and modernization costs ranging from $6.7 billion to $15.2 billion, but did not include the costs of critical components for the future complex. GAO also noted that such long-standing management issues as reliance on contractors and lack of technical expertise could have a detrimental impact on any reconfiguration of the complex.

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