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    Federal Agency: "Department of Energy"

    60 publications with a total of 139 open recommendations including 10 priority recommendations
    Director: Shelby S. Oakley
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help ensure the availability of Pu-238 and RPS for space exploration, the Secretary of Energy should develop an implementation plan with milestones and interim steps for the department's management approach for Pu-238 and RPS production.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To help ensure the availability of Pu-238 and RPS for space exploration, the Secretary of Energy should assess the long-term effects that known challenges may have on production quantities, time frames, or required funding, and communicate these potential effects to NASA.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To help ensure the availability of Pu-238 and RPS for space exploration, the Secretary of Energy should develop a more comprehensive system to track more systemic risks, beyond the specific technical risks identified by individual laboratories.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: David C. Trimble
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    4 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure that DOE has a full understanding of the department's long-term TRU waste disposal requirements and the capability of WIPP to meet those requirements, the Secretary of Energy should develop a schedule for deciding whether the volumes of "potential waste" identified in the annual TRU waste inventory report can be disposed of at WIPP.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To ensure that DOE has a full understanding of the department's long-term TRU waste disposal requirements and the capability of WIPP to meet those requirements, the Secretary of Energy should develop guidance that helps sites produce a more comprehensive estimate for the volumes of TRU waste that may be generated in the future from cleanup operations, including estimates of buried waste, waste that may be generated from decontamination and decommissioning of nuclear facilities, and waste that may be generated past WIPP's expected closure date of 2050.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To ensure that DOE has a full understanding of the department's long-term TRU waste disposal requirements and the capability of WIPP to meet those requirements, the Secretary of Energy should develop a long-term plan for disposing of DOE's TRU waste that includes the need for excavating additional disposal space at WIPP and an integrated schedule that describes how DOE will complete the regulatory approval process and construction of new space before WIPP's existing space is full.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To ensure that DOE has a full understanding of the department's long-term TRU waste disposal requirements and the capability of WIPP to meet those requirements, the Secretary of Energy should develop a long-term plan for disposing of DOE's TRU waste that includes a timeline to help determine whether DOE can change its method of counting waste volumes to meet NNSA's 2020 milestone for resolving potential disposal space constraints at WIPP.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: William B. Shear
    Phone: (202) 512-8678

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To address demonstrated noncompliance with section 15(k) of the Small Business Act, as amended, the Secretary of Energy should comply with sections 15(k)(3), (k)(8), and (k)(17) or report to Congress on why the agency has not complied, including seeking any statutory flexibilities or exceptions believed appropriate.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: David A. Powner
    Phone: (202) 512-9286

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Secretaries of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Homeland Security, Energy, HHS, Interior, Labor, State, Transportation, Treasury, and VA; the Attorney General of the United States; the Administrators of EPA, GSA, and SBA; the Director of OPM; and the Chairman of NRC should take action to, within existing OMB reporting mechanisms, complete plans describing how the agency will achieve OMB's requirement to implement automated monitoring tools at all agency-owned data centers by the end of fiscal year 2018.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: David Powner
    Phone: (202) 512-9286

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The following 17 agencies (the Secretaries of the Departments of Commerce, Defense, Energy, Health and Human Services, Interior, Labor, State, Transportation, Treasury, and Veterans Affairs; the Attorney General; and the Administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Small Business Administration, and U.S. Agency for International Development; the Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission; and the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration) should each take action to complete the missing elements in their respective DCOI strategic plan, including addressing any identified challenges, and submit their completed strategic plan to OMB.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Energy agreed with, but has not yet taken action to implement, our recommendation. We will monitor the department's efforts to address our recommendation.
    Director: David C. Trimble
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help ensure that DOE's treatment of Hanford's supplemental LAW is risk based and cost effective, the Secretary of Energy should develop updated information on the effectiveness of treating and disposing of all the different portions of Hanford's supplemental LAW with alternate methods or at alternate disposal sites, and based on this information, identify potential treatment and disposal pathways for different portions of Hanford's supplemental LAW, considering the risks posed by the LAW. In implementing this recommendation, DOE should take into account the results of the analysis required by Section 3134 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: In July 2017, DOE told GAO that it has commissioned a team of National Laboratory experts that has begun working on an independent review of supplemental low-activity waste treatment options. DOE noted that this review will address the effectiveness of treating and disposing of Hanford's supplemental low-activity waste with alternate methods or at alternate disposal sites.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that DOE's treatment of Hanford's supplemental LAW is risk based and cost effective, the Secretary of Energy should have an independent entity develop updated information on the lifecycle costs of treating and disposing of Hanford's supplemental LAW with alternate methods or at alternate disposal sites. In implementing this recommendation, DOE should take into account the results of the analysis required by Section 3134 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: In July 2017, DOE told GAO that it has commissioned a team of National Laboratory experts that has begun working on an independent review of supplemental low-activity waste treatment options. DOE noted that this review will include a cost benefit analysis for treatment and disposal alternatives.
    Director: Shelby S. Oakley
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    4 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Energy, working with the Administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration, should include more complete information on the assessments--that is, security plans, vulnerability assessments, independent assessments, and other assessments--used in the annual reports to support the agencies' assessments that DOE and NNSA sites are secure.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken, we will update.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Energy, working with the Administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration, should better align the internal review process and mandated report publication deadlines.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken, we will update.
    Recommendation: Additionally, the Secretary of Energy should develop a plan for addressing the physical security infrastructure needs at DOE sites. Similar to a report under development by NNSA, this plan could identify cost and time frames and enable DOE and the Congress to prioritize these projects.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken, we will update.
    Recommendation: Additionally, the Secretary of Energy should, in future annual security certification reports, inform Congress of the reasons for the delayed implementation of the June 2011 DOE material control and accountability order at some sites, as well as the steps DOE and its sites are taking to implement it. DOE should also provide Congress with information on any vulnerabilities or deficiencies in the security at sites that may potentially exist while the sites complete implementation of the order as well as information on any concomitant adjustment to their security posture that is required.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken, we will update.
    Director: David C. Trimble
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    6 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To allow DOE management to effectively monitor invoice reviews and have assurance that this control activity is operating as intended, the Secretary of Energy should establish a DOE-wide invoice review policy that includes requirements for sites to establish well-documented invoice review operating procedures.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOE stated that it already has an established, detailed DOE-wide invoice review policy provided in DOE's Financial Management Handbook and in the DOE Acquisition Guide, and that they are updating the Financial Management Handbook to include additional procedures to address intra-governmental payment and collection transactions that they believe will allow the recommendation to be closed by September 30, 2017. However, DOE officials with the office of the CFO at DOE headquarters previously told us that they do not have department-wide invoice review policies and procedures, and that CFOs and contracting officials in DOE field offices are responsible to develop their own invoice review policies and procedures. In addition, we reviewed the Financial Management Handbook and the Acquisition Guide and found that these documents do not contain the detail necessary to serve as an invoice review policy. We will continue to review DOE's implementation of this recommendation to determine whether its actions meet the intent of the recommendation.
    Recommendation: To help DOE take a more strategic approach to managing improper payments and risk, including fraud risk, the Secretary of Energy should implement leading practices for managing the department's risk of fraud, including creating a structure with a dedicated entity within DOE to design and oversee fraud risk management activities.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOE considers this recommendation to be closed without corrective action. Instead of establishing a dedicated entity within DOE to design and oversee fraud risk management activities, DOE will rely on the existing Office of Financial Policy and Internal Controls and on the DOE Office of Inspector General (OIG)to design and oversee financial fraud risk management activities. We disagree that reliance on these offices meets best practices because neither office is solely dedicated to designing or overseeing fraud risk management activities. Furthermore, according the best practices in GAO's Fraud Risk Framework, the dedicated entity should not be the OIG.
    Recommendation: To help DOE take a more strategic approach to managing improper payments and risk, including fraud risk, the Secretary of Energy should implement leading practices for managing the department's risk of fraud, including conducting fraud risk assessments that are tailored to each program and use the assessments to develop a fraud risk profile

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOE concurred with the substance of the recommendation; however they consider the recommendation to be closed without corrective action because its risk assessments meet the requirements of the Improper Payments Elimination and Recovery Improvement Act of 2012, as reported by the Office of Inspector General (OIG), and because it has implemented updates to OMB Circular A-123 that added requirements related to managing fraud risk and adherence to GAO's Fraud Risk Framework. However, we found that DOE has not conducted fraud risk assessments that are tailored to its programs and therefore do not allow the department to create a fraud risk profile. We also found that, although DOE updated its internal control assessment tools with a list of fraud risks as required by OMB Circular A-123, the list of risks were the same for all DOE sites and were not tailored to the sites' different programs.
    Recommendation: To help DOE take a more strategic approach to managing improper payments and risk, including fraud risk, the Secretary of Energy should implement leading practices for managing the department's risk of fraud, including developing and documenting an antifraud strategy that describes the programs' approaches for addressing the prioritized fraud risks identified during the fraud risk assessment.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOE concurred with this recommendation but considers the recommendation closed without corrective action because DOE has implemented the updated OMB Circular A-123 and because DOE's anti-fraud strategy is imbedded in the DOE internal control program. However, DOE officials told us that they have not developed or documented a DOE-wide antifraud strategy or directed individual programs to develop program-specific strategies. Furthermore, DOE's implementation of OMB Circular A-123 included adding a list of potential risks to their internal control assessment tool that were the same for all DOE sites and were not tailored to the sites' different programs.
    Recommendation: To help DOE take a more strategic approach to managing improper payments and risk, including fraud risk, the Secretary of Energy should implement leading practices for managing the department's risk of fraud, including designing and implementing specific control activities, including fraud awareness training and data analytics, to prevent and detect fraud and other improper payments.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOE believes that they are either implementing or have already implemented this recommendation and considers the recommendation closed without additional action. Specifically, DOE stated that the Office of Inspector General (OIG) already provides fraud awareness training and that the OIG provided expanded fraud risk training on June 12, 2017 through a CFO-hosted webinar. However, of the 10 field offices responsible for overseeing contractor costs, none required employees responsible for overseeing contractor costs to attend fraud awareness training.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that necessary data are available to employ data analytics as a tool to perform contractor cost-surveillance activities, the Secretary of Energy should require contractors to maintain sufficiently detailed transaction-level cost data that are reconcilable with amounts charged to the government, including (1) cost data that, at a minimum, represent a full data population and (2) the details necessary to determine the nature of each cost transaction, with such identifiers as transaction date, dollar amount, item or service description, and transaction codes to indicate the type of cost represented (e.g., construction materials, property lease, and office supplies).

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOE did not agree to implement this recommendation because they believe that the recommendation establishes agency-specific requirements for DOE contractors that are more prescriptive than current federal requirements. DOE states that they plan to evaluate the merits of government-wide guidance for applying data-analytics to contract costs only if an OMB working group--established as a requirement of the Fraud Reduction and Data Analytics Act of 2015 to promote interagency coordination on fraud reduction and data analytics--requires them to do so. However, the purpose of the working group is to share fraud management best practices. It is not an implementing body and agencies do not need its permission before proceeding with fraud risk reduction efforts.
    Director: David Trimble
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Energy should direct the Office of Nuclear Energy to reassess its decision to engage in discussions with potential host communities, screen sites, or conduct other site selection activities until key prerequisites to these efforts--such as revising health and safety regulations--have been addressed.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017 prohibited DOE from spending money on a defense repository until the Secretary has developed an understanding of the costs and impacts to other priority programs within atomic energy defense activities. However, the President's fiscal year 2018 budget priorities include $120 million for DOE to resume licensing activities for the Yucca Mountain repository in Nevada. As of March 2017, a DOE official said they were waiting for authorization and direction on how to proceed.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Energy should direct the Office of Nuclear Energy to conduct a comprehensive assessment, which adheres to the Office of Management and Budget guidance and best practices, of the benefits, costs, and schedules of the options it reviewed and provided to the President in 2015, and, in light of the new information and results of its assessment, revise--if needed--the report's conclusion that a strong basis exists to find that a defense HLW repository is required.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Energy (DOE) agreed with this recommendation in principle and the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017 prohibited DOE from spending money on a defense repository until the Secretary has developed an understanding of the costs and impacts to other priority programs within atomic energy defense activities. However, the President's fiscal year 2018 budget priorities include $120 million for DOE to resume licensing activities for the Yucca Mountain repository in Nevada. As of March 2017, a DOE official said they were waiting for authorization and direction on how to proceed.
    Director: David Trimble
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help ensure that NNSA effectively manages the performance of its programs, the Secretary of Energy should establish a program management policy that (1) assigns responsibilities and delegates authority to program managers and establishes expectations of competence for them, in accordance with federal internal control standards, and (2) addresses leading program management practices, such as developing program plans.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of January 2017, DOE stated that it will address our recommendation as part of its effort to meet the requirements of the Program Management Improvement Accountability Act of 2016. This Act requires the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to adopt government-wide standards, policies, and guidelines for program and project management for agencies. It also requires agencies to appoint program management improvement officers, establishes training competencies for program managers, and creates a job series and career path for program managers. According to the Act, OMB will issue the standards, policies, and guidelines required under the Act no later than December 14, 2017.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that NNSA develops and maintains a cadre of professional, effective, and capable program managers in accordance with leading program management practices and federal internal control standards, the Secretary of Energy should establish a training program for program managers.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of January 2017, DOE stated that it will address our recommendation as part of its effort to meet the requirements of the Program Management Improvement Accountability Act of 2016. This Act requires the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to adopt government-wide standards, policies, and guidelines for program and project management for agencies. It also requires agencies to appoint program management improvement officers, establishes training competencies for program managers, and creates a job series and career path for program managers. According to the Act, OMB will issue the standards, policies, and guidelines required under the Act no later than December 14, 2017.
    Director: Rusco, Franklin W
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Energy should designate a career senior-level federal government employee to serve as co-chair of the White House Council on Native American Affairs' Energy Subgroup.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOE stated it will work to identify a career senior-level federal government employee to serve as co-chair of the White House Council on Native American Affairs' Energy Subgroup, but has not provided a timeline for completing the action. We will continue to monitor DOE's progress.
    Director: David Powner
    Phone: (202) 512-9286

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve federal agencies' efforts to rationalize their portfolio of applications, the heads of the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, the Interior, Labor, State, Transportation, the Treasury, and Veterans Affairs; and heads of the Environmental Protection Agency; National Aeronautics and Space Administration; National Science Foundation; Nuclear Regulatory Commission; Office of Personnel Management; Small Business Administration; Social Security Administration; and U.S. Agency for International Development should direct their Chief Information Officers (CIOs) and other responsible officials to improve their inventories by taking steps to fully address the practices we identified as being partially met or not met.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: In its comments on a draft of our report, the department concurred with our recommendation. Subsequent to the department informing us that it has taken action to implement the recommendation, we will follow up.
    Director: Gregory C. Wilshusen
    Phone: (202) 512-6244

    6 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure that the role of the CISO is defined in department policy in accordance with FISMA 2014, the Secretary of Energy should define the CISO's role in department policy for ensuring that subordinate security plans are documented for the department's information systems.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Energy concurred with the recommendation, and estimates completion by March 1, 2018. The Department decided in April 2017 to make significant updates to its Cyber Security Program, and estimates it will take up to nine months to gain departmental concurrence, complete revisions, and close this recommendation. However, the Department has not yet provided sufficient evidence that it has implemented the recommendation.
    Recommendation: To ensure that the role of the CISO is defined in department policy in accordance with FISMA 2014, the Secretary of Energy should define the CISO's role in department policy for ensuring that all users receive information security awareness training.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Energy concurred with the recommendation, and estimates completion by March 1, 2018. The Department decided in April 2017 to make significant updates to its Cyber Security Program, and estimates it will take up to nine months to gain departmental concurrence, complete revisions, and close this recommendation. However, the Department has not yet provided sufficient evidence that it has implemented the recommendation.
    Recommendation: To ensure that the role of the CISO is defined in department policy in accordance with FISMA 2014, the Secretary of Energy should define the CISO's role in department policy for ensuring that the department has a process for planning implementing, evaluating, and documenting remedial actions.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Energy concurred with the recommendation, and estimates completion by March 1, 2018. The Department decided in April 2017 to make significant updates to its Cyber Security Program, and estimates it will take up to nine months to gain departmental concurrence, complete revisions, and close this recommendation. However, the Department has not yet provided sufficient evidence that it has implemented the recommendation.
    Recommendation: To ensure that the role of the CISO is defined in department policy in accordance with FISMA 2014, the Secretary of Energy should define the CISO's role in department policy for ensuring that plans and procedures are in place to ensure recovery and continued operations of the department's information systems in the event of a disruption.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Energy concurred with the recommendation, and estimates completion by March 1, 2018. The Department decided in April 2017 to make significant updates to its Cyber Security Program, and estimates it will take up to nine months to gain departmental concurrence, complete revisions, and close this recommendation. However, the Department has not yet provided sufficient evidence that it has implemented the recommendation.
    Recommendation: To ensure that the role of the CISO is defined in department policy in accordance with FISMA 2014, the Secretary of Energy should define the CISO's role in department policy for oversight of security for information systems that are operated by contractors on the department's behalf.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Energy concurred with the recommendation, and estimates completion by March 1, 2018. The Department decided in April 2017 to make significant updates to its Cyber Security Program, and estimates it will take up to nine months to gain departmental concurrence, complete revisions, and close this recommendation. However, the Department has not yet provided sufficient evidence that it has implemented the recommendation.
    Recommendation: To ensure that the role of the CISO is defined in department policy in accordance with FISMA 2014, the Secretary of Energy should define the CISO's role in department policy in the periodic authorization of the department's information systems.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Energy concurred with the recommendation, and estimates completion by March 1, 2018. The Department decided in April 2017 to make significant updates to its Cyber Security Program, and estimates it will take up to nine months to gain Departmental concurrence, complete revisions, and close this recommendation. However, the Department has not yet provided sufficient evidence that it has implemented the recommendation.
    Director: Neumann, John
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure that DOE's control activities continue to be relevant and effective for managing supply chain risk, the Secretary should direct the Under Secretary for Nuclear Security, as the Administrator of the NNSA, to work with the Office of Intelligence and Counterintelligence and other DOE organizations, as appropriate, to assess the circumstances that might warrant using the enhanced procurement authority, and (1) if this assessment identifies circumstances that might warrant using the authority, the Secretary should direct the Under Secretary for Nuclear Security to work with other DOE organizations, as appropriate, to establish processes for using it and examine whether adequate resources are in place to support those processes, and (2) communicate the results of this assessment to the relevant congressional committees for their use in determining whether to extend the authority past its current termination date.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: In an October 7, 2016, letter the Under Secretary for Nuclear Security and Administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) said he agreed with GAO's recommendation to assess situations that might warrant the use of the enhanced procurement authority and, should specific circumstances be identified for use of the authority, NNSA would develop a process for its use. The assessment would include an examination of resources to support use of the authority. NNSA would work with other Department of Energy organizations as appropriate in conducting the assessment. The results would be shared with relevant congressional committees, as GAO recommended. NNSA had anticipated completion of the assessment by March 2017, but on June 1, 2017, NNSA officials told us they anticipated the completion date would be September 30, 2017.
    Director: David Trimble
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To strengthen acquisition planning for M&O contract acquisitions, the Secretary of Energy should direct the Office of Acquisition Management, Office of Policy to require that acquisition planning documents for M&O contracts discuss alternatives beyond extending the M&O contract or conducting a competition for essentially the same scope of work.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: In November 2016, DOE officials stated that the Office of Acquisition Management will amend existing or issue new policy or guidance, as appropriate, with an estimated completion date of January 2017.
    Recommendation: To strengthen acquisition planning for M&O contract acquisitions, the Secretary of Energy should direct the Office of Acquisition Management, Office of Policy to establish a process to periodically analyze DOE's experience with alternatives to the single M&O contract approach to identify and apply lessons learned during acquisition planning for M&O contracts.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: In November 2016, DOE officials stated that the Office of Acquisition Management will amend existing or issue new policy or guidance, as appropriate, to require programs to periodically analyze their experiences with alternatives. Officials provided an estimated completion date of July 2017.
    Director: Trimble, David C
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    7 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure that NNSA will acquire sufficient plutonium analysis equipment and space to meet its needs, including pit production to support critical life extension programs, the Secretary should direct that the Under Secretary for Nuclear Security, in his capacity as the NNSA Administrator, update the program requirements document for the revised CMRR project to identify a key performance parameter that describes the plutonium analysis capacity the CMRR project is required to provide to support specific pit production rates.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of June 2017, NNSA plans to perform an analysis to identify the plutonium analysis capacity that the CMRR project is required to provide and reference that information in an updated version of the CMRR program requirements document. NNSA estimated that it will complete this action by September 30, 2017. We will evaluate NNSA's action once it is complete.
    Recommendation: To ensure that NNSA will acquire sufficient plutonium analysis equipment and space to meet its needs, including pit production to support critical life extension programs, the Secretary should direct that the Under Secretary for Nuclear Security, in his capacity as the NNSA Administrator, specify plans for how the agency will obtain additional plutonium analysis capacity if the revised CMRR project will not provide sufficient plutonium analysis capacity to support NNSA's pit production plans.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of June 2017, NNSA planned to update its Plutonium Strategy to identify additional means, if necessary, to achieve sufficient plutonium analysis capacity to support pit production plans. NNSA estimated that it will complete this action by September 30, 2017. We will evaluate NNSA's action once it is complete.
    Recommendation: To ensure that NNSA will provide clear information to stakeholders about the program needs that the revised CMRR project will satisfy, the Secretary should direct the Under Secretary for Nuclear Security, in his capacity as the NNSA Administrator, to update the program requirements document for the revised CMRR project to clarify whether the project will provide plutonium analysis equipment to meet the needs of DOE and NNSA programs other than those in the Office of Defense Programs.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of June 2017, NNSA planned to update the CMRR program requirements document to clarify that the CMRR project will not install any unique analysis equipment required solely for non-defense related programs. NNSA estimated that it would complete this action by December 31, 2017. We will evaluate NNSA's action once it is complete.
    Recommendation: To ensure that NNSA's future schedule estimates for the revised CMRR project provide the agency with reasonable assurance regarding meeting the project's completion dates, the Secretary should direct the Under Secretary for Nuclear Security, in his capacity as the NNSA Administrator, to develop future schedules for the revised CMRR project that are consistent with current DOE project management policy and scheduling best practices. Specifically, the Under Secretary should develop and maintain an integrated master schedule that includes all project activities under all subprojects prior to approving the project's first CD-2 decision.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of June 2017, NNSA said it had identified the key milestone dates for the future subprojects including critical decisions and completion. We will update the status of this recommendation after we review the documentation.
    Recommendation: To ensure that NNSA's future schedule estimates for the revised CMRR project provide the agency with reasonable assurance regarding meeting the project's completion dates, the Secretary should direct the Under Secretary for Nuclear Security, in his capacity as the NNSA Administrator, to develop future schedules for the revised CMRR project that are consistent with current DOE project management policy and scheduling best practices. Specifically, the Under Secretary should conduct a comprehensive schedule risk analysis that applies to the integrated master schedule to identify the likelihood the project can meet its completion dates.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of June 2017, NNSA said that it had completed risk analyses to satisfy the recommendation. We will update the status of this recommendation after we review the documentation.
    Recommendation: To ensure that NNSA is better positioned to objectively consider alternatives before making its selection of an alternative for the Plutonium Modular Approach, the Secretary should direct the Under Secretary for Nuclear Security, in his capacity as the NNSA Administrator, before completing the analysis of alternatives, to rephrase the statement of mission need and requirements for the Plutonium Modular Approach so that they are independent of a particular solution.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: NNSA did not agree to implement the recommendation as stated in the report. However, NNSA stated that it would conduct the analysis of alternatives independent of a particular solution. NNSA has not estimated a completion date for the final analysis of alternatives. After the analysis is complete, we will review it to determine whether it includes information that meets the intent of our recommendation.
    Recommendation: To ensure that NNSA has information about program-specific needs to inform its analysis of alternatives for the Plutonium Modular Approach and to provide a clearer basis for selecting a project alternative, the Secretary should direct the Under Secretary for Nuclear Security, in his capacity as the NNSA Administrator, before completing the analysis of alternatives, to identify key performance parameters and program-specific requirements for the Plutonium Modular Approach.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: NNSA did not agree to implement the recommendation as written in the report. However, NNSA stated that it would develop key parameters and project requirements as part of the analysis of alternatives. NNSA has not estimated a completion date for the AOA. After the analysis is complete, we will review it to determine whether it includes information that meets the intent of our recommendation.
    Director: David C. Trimble
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    3 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: To help ensure that DOE develops and uses reliable cost and schedule estimates and AOAs, the Secretary of Energy should direct Office of Environmental Management (EM) to revise its protocol governing cleanup operations activities to require use of best practices in developing cost and schedule estimates.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: DOE concurred with the recommendation. In its written comments, DOE stated that EM is transitioning from the operations activities protocol to a new directive that is expected to include a key decision approving a cost and schedule baseline. As EM develops the guidance for this key decision, it will include the use of cost and schedule best practices. In April 2017, however, EM indicated that it plans to issue a revised EM operations activities protocol in fiscal year 2017 for use in fiscal year 2018 instead of a new directive. According to an EM official, EM will include best practices for cost and schedule estimation in the revised protocol. When EM completes the revised protocol, we will evaluate the actions taken and whether the recommendation should be closed.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that DOE develops and uses reliable cost and schedule estimates and AOAs, the Secretary of Energy should direct EM to implement the recommendation made by DOE's Office of Project Management Oversight and Assessments in its independent review of the AOA for WIPP's new permanent ventilation system to perform a cost-benefit analysis consistent with best practices for conducting an AOA, or justify and document why the office does not intend to do so.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOE concurred with clarification to the recommendation. In its written comments to our report, DOE stated that in accordance with GAO best practices, it will conduct further cost-benefit analysis on the WIPP ventilation system project prior to approval of Critical Decision-2, Approve Performance Baseline. DOE stated that several alternatives remain to be evaluated including the size of the ventilation system and the location of the exhaust shaft. In March 2017, a DOE Carlsbad Field Office official overseeing the project said that the project team completed an additional analysis of alternatives (AOA) for the ventilation system project at WIPP and a revised business case for the alternative to construct a safety significant confinement ventilation system and exhaust shaft that addresses the recommendations from the Department of Energy's Office of Project Management Oversight and Assessment. After we obtain a copy of the completed AOA, we will evaluate the action taken to determine whether to close the recommendation.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that DOE develops and uses reliable cost and schedule estimates and AOAs, the Secretary of Energy should direct DOE to revise its Order 413.3B to require that DOE offices implement any recommendations from an independent review of the extent to which an AOA followed best practices, or justify and document the rationale for not doing so.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOE concurred with the recommendation and in its written comments to our report stated that it will prepare a project management policy on how DOE offices should respond to recommendations from independent reviews by December 2016. In addition, DOE stated that it will update DOE Order 413.3B with the new policy at the next available opportunity. In November 2017, a DOE official from the Office of Project Management, Oversight, and Assessments (PMOA) said that PMOA developed a project management policy statement on how DOE offices should disposition recommendations from independent reviews and PMOA intended to incorporate the policy into its planned update of DOE Guide 413.3-9 Project Review Guide for Capital Asset Projects, which was to be completed by December 2016. As of April 2017, according to a DOE official, development of the updated project review guide was on hold indefinitely along with all other actions to publish new, or update existing departmental directives in response to the two Presidential Executive Orders issued in January and February 2017 that directed federal agencies to, among other things, reduce and reform agency regulations.
    Director: David C. Trimble
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    6 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: To improve DOE's ability to evaluate and monitor the effectiveness of policies that call for all organizations, including contractors, to embrace a strong safety culture and create a work environment that encourages a questioning attitude by all employees, the Secretary of Energy should develop and implement an independent evaluation process for routinely and accurately measuring contractor employees' willingness to raise safety and other concerns without fear of retaliation. This process should ensure that an independent third party develops, conducts, and consistently applies the evaluation methodology--which should include safeguards that protect anonymity. The process should also enable DOE to oversee and ensure that appropriate corrective actions are taken in response to evaluation results.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOE concurred with the recommendation. In December 2016, the Office of Enterprise Assessments formed a working group to address our recommendations. According to DOE, as of March 2017 the working group developed a strategy and plan to independently analyze data associated with willingness to raise concerns within contractor organizations at DOE sites with high hazard nuclear facilities. We will continue to monitor DOE's efforts to implement this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that the organizational placement and practices of DOE- and contractor- provided Employee Concerns Programs (ECP) do not inhibit contractor employees from raising safety and other concerns, the Secretary of Energy should revise DOE's ECP order and guidance to (1) require that the organizational placement and practices of contractor ECP's do not compromise or impair their independence, (2) clarify the circumstances under which DOE's ECP is permitted to transfer and refer concerns to contractors, and notify or require approval of the contractor employee raising the concern, and (3) provide criteria for overseeing and evaluating the effectiveness and independence of contractor-provided ECPs.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOE concurred with the recommendation. To address this recommendation, DOE planned to update DOE Order 442.1A, Department of Energy Employee Concerns Program, to (1) address the potential for conflicts of interest that could affect the independence of contractor ECPs, (2) clarify the circumstances under which an employee concern can be referred or transferred from a DOE ECP to a contractor ECP, and (3) specify that the processes already identified in DOE Order 226.1B, Implementation of Department of Energy Oversight Policy, be used as part of the oversight processes for contractor-provided ECPs, to include evaluation of their effectiveness and independence. According to DOE, the draft order was affected by a Presidential Memorandum issued in January 2017, which put a temporary stop to the DOE directives process. We will continue to monitor the status of DOE's implementation of this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that Congress has the information it needs as it considers whether or not to make permanent the enhanced whistleblower pilot program and that DOE has assurance that contractor employees have an effective mechanism to seek remedy for unlawful retaliation, the Secretary of Energy should fully evaluate the extent to which the pilot program has been implemented and whether its provisions will mitigate challenges associated with DOE's 708 program. This evaluation should include, at a minimum, an assessment of (1) contractors that have adopted the pilot program and the date they did so; (2) contractors that have not adopted the pilot program and an explanation of why not; (3) cases filed under the pilot program, if any; and (4) the pilot program's potential for mitigating challenges associated with the 708 program.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOE concurred in principle with the recommendation. In response to this recommendation, the Office of Hearings and Appeals conducted a review of the Part 708 program that, according to DOE, evaluated each of the areas of concern and compared current part 708 regulations with the pilot program. We will update the status of this recommendation after we review the resulting report.
    Recommendation: To help improve DOE's ability to take enforcement action against unlawful retaliation when appropriate and take action against contractors that create a chilled work environment, the Secretary of Energy should expedite the department's time frames for codifying in regulatory language its policy that retaliation for nuclear safety-related disclosures is a nuclear safety violation and develop a specific schedule for issuing the proposed and final rules.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOE concurred with the recommendation and planned to amend its regulations to clarify which DOE regulations constitute DOE Nuclear Safety Requirements. DOD planned to expedite the schedule for this rulemaking. We will update the status of this recommendation after we confirm DOE's actions
    Recommendation: To help improve DOE's ability to take enforcement action against unlawful retaliation when appropriate and take action against contractors that create a chilled work environment, the Secretary of Energy should direct DOE's Office of Enforcement to routinely collect information from the Department of Labor and other sources regarding substantiated cases of retaliation and take appropriate enforcement action.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to DOE, the Office of Enforcement has revised its internal implementing procedure to require that a review of DOE Office of Hearings and Appeals whistleblower cases, Department of Labor complaints submitted under the Energy Reorganization Act, and an online legal research service (for court decisions) be conducted each quarter to identify cases wherein a DOE contractor may have retaliated against an employee for reporting a safety concern and evaluate the information for potential enforcement action. We will update the status of this recommendation after we review the updated procedure.
    Recommendation: To help improve DOE's ability to take enforcement action against unlawful retaliation when appropriate and take action against contractors that create a chilled work environment, the Secretary of Energy should revise DOE's Integrated Safety Management policy and guidance to clarify what constitutes evidence of a chilled work environment and define the appropriate steps DOE should take to hold contractors accountable for creating a chilled work environment.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: DOE concurred with the recommendation. DOE officials said that the department was revising the Integrated Safety Management policy but the revisions are currently on hold indefinitely along with all other actions to publish new, or update existing departmental directives in response to two Presidential Executive Orders issued in January and February 2017 that directed federal agencies to, among other things, reduce and reform agency regulations.
    Director: Kimberly Gianopoulos
    Phone: (202) 512-8612

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve CERC's performance monitoring, the Secretary of Energy should ensure that for CERC's second phase the program creates targets and tracks progress against those targets in order to measure program performance.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOE concurred with GAO's recommendation and has taken steps to implement it since our report. For example, DOE created a standardized reporting template with performance measures for CERC partners to complete on a quarterly basis. DOE officials informed GAO that they are working to develop targets for those performance measures. We will continue to monitor DOE's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Director: John Neumann
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To reduce pre-award administrative workload and costs, particularly for applications that do not result in awards, the Secretary of Energy, the NASA Administrator, and the Secretary of Health and Human Services should conduct agency-wide reviews of possible actions, such as further use of preliminary proposals, to postpone pre-award requirements until after a preliminary decision about an applicant's likelihood of funding and, through OSTP's Research Business Models working group, coordinate and report on these efforts.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of February 2017, DOE stated that it remained committed to addressing this recommendation. DOE outlined several steps it planned to take, such as participating in interagency meetings, but it did not indicate whether it has taken these steps.
    Recommendation: To further standardize administrative research requirements, the Secretary of Energy, the NASA Administrator, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, and the Director of NSF should coordinate through Office of Science and Technology Policy's (OSTP) Research Business Models working group to identify additional areas where they can standardize requirements and report on these efforts.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: In January 2017, the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act was signed into law, requiring the Office of Management and Budget, in coordination with the Office of Science and Technology Policy, to establish an interagency working group to reduce administrative workload and costs while protecting the transparency of and accountability for federally funded research. As of March 2017, DOE, HHS, NASA, and NSF stated that, as part of their efforts to implement GAO's recommendation, they would coordinate with other research funding agencies through this interagency working group.
    Director: J. Christopher Mihm
    Phone: (202) 512-6806

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve the public reporting of major management challenges and to ensure performance information is useful, transparent, and complete, the Secretary of Energy should describe the Department of Energy's major management challenges and include performance goals, performance measures, milestones and an agency official responsible for resolving each of its major management challenges as part of the Department of Energy's agency performance plan.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of August 2017, the Department of Energy had not taken any actions to implement our recommendation. When the 2019 annual performance plan is issued, we will update the status of this recommendation.
    Director: David A. Powner
    Phone: (202) 512-9286

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To better ensure that the Dashboard ratings more accurately reflect risk, the Secretaries of the Departments of Agriculture, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, the Interior, State, and Veterans Affairs; and the Director of the Office of Personnel Management should direct their CIOs to factor active risks into their IT Dashboard CIO ratings.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department agreed with the recommendation and, in a written response, stated that the Office of the CIO will update the CIO's OMB IT Dashboard Standard Operating Procedure to include the evaluation and assessment of active risks. This effort is to be completed by the end of December 2016. We will continue to monitor the implementation of this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To better ensure that the Dashboard ratings more accurately reflect risk, the Secretaries of the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, State, Transportation, the Treasury, Veterans Affairs; the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency; and the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration should direct their CIOs to ensure that their CIO ratings reflect the level of risk facing an investment relative to that investment's ability to accomplish its goals.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department agreed with the recommendation and, in a written response, stated that the Office of the CIO will update its IT Dashboard Standard Operating Procedure to include an active risk sub-criteria comprised of probability and impact scores. This effort is to be completed by the end of December 2016. We will continue to monitor the implementation of this recommendation.
    Director: David A. Powner
    Phone: (202) 512-9286

    1 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: To address obsolete IT investments in need of modernization or replacement, the Secretaries of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, State, the Treasury, Transportation, and Veterans Affairs; the Attorney General; and the Commissioner of Social Security should direct their respective agency CIOs to identify and plan to modernize or replace legacy systems as needed and consistent with OMB's draft guidance, including time frames, activities to be performed, and functions to be replaced or enhanced.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: The department partially agreed with the recommendation and in an April 2017 update stated that the department has begun an initiative to migrated corporate business IT systems to cloud service providers. The department added that they were coordinating with their program offices to identify and prioritize other IT systems for migration. The department intends to review any forthcoming OMB guidance, and will consider early implementation of such guidance, as applicable to the department, when the guidance is provided. We will continue to monitor the implementation of this recommendation.
    Director: Marie A. Mak
    Phone: (202) 512-4841

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help identify opportunities for cost savings, the Secretary of the Department of Energy should take reasonable steps to regularly analyze agency-wide purchase card spend patterns to identify areas such as high-use vendors or frequently purchased commodities for further analysis.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: The agency concurred with this recommendation and has begun implementation of a Spend Analytics Database to support capture and analysis of data on agency-wide spending patterns. The department has compiled data and begun testing the new databases to determine if useful reports can be generated to assist agency-wide purchase card spending analysis.
    Recommendation: To ensure that good practices are shared within agencies, the Secretaries of Defense, Veterans Affairs, the Interior, Homeland Security, and Energy, and the Environmental Protection Agency should develop guidance that encourages local officials to examine purchase card spend patterns to identify opportunities to obtain savings and to share information on such efforts. Where applicable, we further recommend that these agencies determine the feasibility for broader application of these efforts across the agency or organization.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: The agency concurred with this recommendation and will update its guidance, policy, and procedures to encourage local officials to examine purchase card spend patterns to identify opportunities to obtains savings and to share information on such efforts. Revisions were under review by the department in August 2017.
    Director: Chris Currie
    Phone: (404) 679-1875

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To more fully leverage critical infrastructure expertise and address responsibilities to identify critical electrical infrastructure assets as called for in the National Infrastructure Protection Plan, the Secretary of Homeland Security and the Secretary of Energy direct responsible officials to review FERC's electrical infrastructure analysis and collaborate to determine whether further assessment is needed to adequately identify critical electric infrastructure assets, potentially to include additional elements of criticality that might be considered.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: In June 2016, DOE provided an update (60-day letter) reiterating their intent to continue with actions identified previously to address the GAO recommendation, namely that the Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability was to review the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's electrical infrastructure analysis, and subsequently engage with FERC and DHS to identify if any additional elements of criticality should be considered.
    Recommendation: To facilitate federal and industry efforts to coordinate risk-management activities to address an EMP attack, the Secretary of Homeland Security and the Secretary of Energy should direct responsible officials to engage with federal partners and industry stakeholders to identify and implement key EMP research and development priorities, including opportunities for further testing and evaluation of potential EMP protection and mitigation options.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: On March 9, 2016 DOE provided agency comments on GAO-16-243 concurring with the recommendation and identifying related actions. Specifically, DOE reported collaboration with the Electric Power Research Institute to develop a joint DOE/Industry EMP Strategy to include key goals and objectives and identification of R&D priorities. The Strategy is expected to be completed by August 31, 2016 to be followed by more detailed action plans. DOE reported that they will collaborate with DHS and DOD in development of the Strategy and action plans. DOE further noted that a report by the Idaho National Laboratory report also identifies potential technology gaps and includes recommendations for further R&D efforts, which will be incorporated when developing the forthcoming action plans.
    Director: Marcia Crosse
    Phone: (202) 512-7114

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure that federal departments and agencies have comprehensive and up-to-date policies and stronger oversight mechanisms in place for managing hazardous biological agents in high-containment laboratories and are fully addressing weaknesses identified after laboratory safety lapses, the Secretary of Energy should revise existing department policies for managing hazardous biological agents in high-containment laboratories to contain specific requirements for inspections, or direct the Administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration and the Director of the Office of Science to develop agency policies that contain this requirement.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: In August 2016, DOE reported that it is revising department policy for its select agent and toxin work to highlight oversight of facilities working with these agents and toxins. DOE will solicit input from NNSA, the Office of Science, and its biosurety executive team to determine if specific inspection requirements should be included in the select agent, or other department or agency policies. DOE provided us with information as to other department policies and regulations that allow for inspections. DOE plans to complete its efforts by the end of July 2017. We maintain that DOE should make laboratory inspection requirements explicit and that these requirements apply to all high-containment laboratories, not just those registered with the select agent program.
    Recommendation: To ensure that federal departments and agencies have comprehensive and up-to-date policies and stronger oversight mechanisms in place for managing hazardous biological agents in high-containment laboratories and are fully addressing weaknesses identified after laboratory safety lapses, the Secretary of Energy should review and update its outdated policies for managing hazardous biological agents in high-containment laboratories.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: In August 2016, DOE reported that it is updating its outdated select agent policy and plans to complete this update by the end of July 2017.
    Director: David Powner
    Phone: (202) 512-9286

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Secretaries of the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, the Interior, Labor, State, Transportation, the Treasury, and Veterans Affairs; the Attorney General of the United States; the Administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency, General Services Administration, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and U.S. Agency for International Development; the Director of the Office of Personnel Management; the Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission; and the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration should take action to improve progress in the data center optimization areas that we reported as not meeting OMB's established targets, including addressing any identified challenges.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Energy (Energy) agreed with our recommendation, and has taken initial steps to implement it. In May 2016, Energy stated in correspondence to GAO that it had established an enterprise-wide Data Center Working Group that is chartered to identify best practices in data center metering, optimization, consolidation and cloud migration (and to support these practices throughout the department). According to Energy, this working group is intended to serve as a focus group for communicating information related to the Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA), departmental strategy and implementation, and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) requirements for data centers, as well as to provide summary data center performance status to all members. However, as of July 2017, Energy reports on OMB's IT Dashboard that it does not yet met any of the five data center optimization metric targets that OMB currently requires agencies to report against. We will continue to monitor and evaluate the department's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Director: Melissa Emrey-Arras
    Phone: (617) 788-0534

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: In order to ensure complete, analyzable records regarding research grant award decisions are available for management and analysis, the Secretary of Energy should direct DOE's grant-making agencies to implement additional data collection efforts, which should include: (1) Retaining complete records of pre-proposal, proposal, and award data, including a record of proposal disposition, in linked electronic files to facilitate aggregate, statistical analysis of the grant-making process, including the calculation of success rates. (2) Collecting demographic, education, and career information from applicants, on a voluntary basis, that is not available to proposal reviewers but is used for analysis of success rates.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOE generally agreed with our recommendation to implement additional data collection efforts. According to DOE officials, as of September, 2017, of the four components audited at DOE, all four have taken actions toward implementing the recommendation and one component has completed its implementation. Specifically, the Office of Science began collecting investigator demographics during the second quarter of fiscal year 2015 and already retained complete records that enabled the calculation of success rates. Three additional DOE components conducted a joint feasibility study and all concur that it is feasible to collect data on demographic, education and career information of applicants. The Office of Nuclear Energy (NE) revised its approach to data collection and now retains complete grant life cycle information for each individual award, including complete records of pre-proposal, proposal, and award data in linked electronic files. NE is also changing existing data systems to input/track voluntarily submitted demographic information on Principle Investigators on applications to facilitate aggregate, statistical analysis of the grant-making process, including the calculation of success rates. The agency notes that for NE, the completion of the actions required to implement this recommendation is estimated to take up to 12 months. Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) and the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) participated in the joint feasibility study regarding the collection of demographic data, but have not completed any actions to implement such data collection.
    Director: Joe Kirschbaum
    Phone: (202) 512-9971

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To provide decision makers with better insight and additional context to identify any significant changes to the estimates in the joint report from the prior year and understand the reasons for such changes, and to improve the completeness and transparency of the budget estimates in the report, we recommend that, for future joint reports, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Air Force, the Secretary of the Navy, and the Department of Defense Chief Information Officer (DOD CIO), and the Secretary of Energy direct the Administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) to provide more thorough documentation in the joint report on the methodologies used to develop the budget estimates, including information that may be available in related planning documents, and ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information included.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To provide decision makers with better insight and additional context to identify any significant changes to the estimates in the joint report from the prior year and understand the reasons for such changes, and to improve the completeness and transparency of the budget estimates in the report, we recommend that, for future joint reports, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Air Force, the Secretary of the Navy, and the DOD CIO, and the Secretary of Energy direct the Administrator of NNSA to provide comparative information on changes in the budget estimates from the prior year and explain the reasons for those changes.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: David C. Trimble
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve NNSA's ability to choose the best alternative that satisfies the mission need for lithium production, the Secretary of Energy should request that NNSA's Deputy Administrator for Defense Programs take steps to ensure that NNSA objectively consider all alternatives, without preference for a particular solution, as it proceeds with the analysis of alternatives process. Such steps could include clarifying the statement of mission need for lithium production so that it is independent of a particular solution.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 2016, NNSA has not finalized its analysis of alternatives. However, documents provided and statements made by agency officials indicate that NNSA plans to construct a Lithium Production Facility. NNSA's preference for constructing a lithium production facility prior to finalizing its analysis of alternatives is not consistent with our recommendation.
    Director: Frank Rusco
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    5 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help agencies more consistently perform their oversight responsibilities and oversee contractors' measurement and verification activities, the Secretary of Energy should direct FEMP to monitor agencies' oversight of ESPC projects that agencies have awarded using the DOE contract vehicle, including whether agencies witnessed the contractors' measurement and verification activities and reviewed and certified acceptance of the measurement and verification report.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 2016, we were working with DOE officials to confirm the status of their actions to implement the recommendation.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that agencies have sufficient information on the effects of changing circumstances on the performance of their ESPC portfolios, the Secretaries of Defense, Energy, and Veterans Affairs; the Attorney General; and the Administrator of the General Services Administration should establish a process to systematically evaluate their ESPC projects--including baseline assumptions about facilities' energy use, utility prices, and interest rates--to determine how their ESPC portfolios are performing and the extent to which they are achieving expected savings. Agencies could consider conducting such evaluations either after a certain number of years, or in response to events, such as changes in utility prices or market interest rates, or appropriations becoming available that could be used for modifications or terminations.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 2016, we were working with DOE officials to confirm the status of their actions to implement the recommendation.
    Recommendation: To help agencies more consistently perform their oversight responsibilities and oversee contractors' measurement and verification activities, the Secretary of Energy should direct DOE's Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP) to evaluate existing training and determine whether additional training is needed on observing contractors' measurement and verification activities and reviewing and certifying measurement and verification reports.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 2016, we were working with DOE officials to confirm the status of their actions to implement the recommendation.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that agencies have sufficient information on ESPC performance to oversee whether future and current contracts are achieving their expected savings, the Secretaries of Defense and Energy should specify in the scheduled revisions to their ESPC contract vehicles or in guidance to agencies that measurement and verification reports for future projects are to include estimates of cost and energy savings that were not achieved because of agency actions. Additionally, the Department of Energy (DOE) may wish to consider periodically analyzing data on other factors that may affect savings, such as utility prices, to provide information on how savings achieved by ESPCs awarded through its contract vehicle have been affected by changing utility prices since its prior study in 2007.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 2016, we were working with DOE officials to confirm the status of their actions to implement the recommendation.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that agencies have sufficient information on ESPC performance to oversee whether future and current contracts are achieving their expected savings, the Secretaries of Defense, Energy, and Veterans Affairs; the Attorney General; and the Administrator of the General Services Administration should work with contractors to determine the best way to obtain estimates of cost and energy savings that are not achieved because of agency actions in order to include these estimates in future measurement and verification reports for existing contracts, in accordance with DOE guidance, and where economically feasible.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 2016, we were working with DOE officials to confirm the status of their actions to implement the recommendation.
    Director: Joseph Kirschbaum
    Phone: (202) 512-9971

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To enhance collaboration between DOD and NNSA, the Secretaries of Defense and Energy should update the 1997 memorandum of agreement for the Council, and, as part of this update, describe the roles, responsibilities, structure, and functions of the Council's two support committees, how the Council and these groups are to work together, and the general processes and time frames the Council and its support committees should follow to carry out statutory responsibilities.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: In commenting on this report, NNSA agreed with this recommendation and said it would work collaboratively with the Council and DOD to update the memorandum of agreement and ensure appropriate guidance is issued to document requirements for the Council's two support committees. The Secretaries of Defense and Energy approved an updated memorandum of agreement for the Council in January 2017, but as of August 2017, the NRC Chairman had not issued a letter to Council members documenting the roles and responsibilities, structure, and functions of the Council's support committees. Council staff told us they expected to develop that letter after the Nuclear Posture Review was complete and its impact on the Council's process was clear. Officials anticipated the Nuclear Posture Review would be complete by the end of December 2017.
    Recommendation: To enhance collaboration between DOD and NNSA, the Secretaries of Defense and Energy should update the 1997 memorandum of agreement for the Council, and, as part of this update, include a requirement that budget and program evaluation officials from both DOD and NNSA will consistently and routinely attend all meetings of the Council's two support committees.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: In commenting on this report, NNSA agreed with this recommendation and stated that it would work collaboratively with the Council and DOD to ensure appropriate guidance is issued to document requirements for the participation of budget and evaluation officials in support committee meetings. As of August 2017, the Nuclear Weapons Council's Standing and Safety Committee had reviewed and updated its membership and chairmanship structure and approved changes in preparation for the Council Chairman issuing a letter documenting the roles, responsibilities, structure, and functions of the Council's support committees. Council staff told us they expected to develop that letter after the Nuclear Posture Review was complete and its impact on the Council's process was clear. Officials anticipated the Nuclear Posture Review would be complete by the end of December 2017.
    Director: David C. Trimble
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    5 open recommendations
    including 2 priority recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve DOE's management and oversight of the WTP project, the Secretary of Energy should, in assessing the alternatives, revise cost and schedule estimates for the Low Activity Waste Pretreatment System and the Tank Waste Characterization and Staging facility in accordance with industry best practices.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: We will monitor the status of this proposed requirement.
    Recommendation: To improve DOE's management and oversight of the WTP project, the Secretary of Energy should revise the statements of mission need for the two proposed projects to allow DOE to consider a variety of alternatives without limiting potential solutions, consistent with the DOE requirement that mission need statements should not identify particular solution such as equipment, facility, or technology.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to DOE DARTS report on 5/19/16, revision of the statement of mission for the Low Activity Waste Pretreatment System "has become overcome by events". We will continue to follow up on this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve DOE's management and oversight of the WTP project, the Secretary of Energy should, in accordance with DOE's Office of River Protection quality assurance policy, conduct an extent-of-condition review for WTP's High Level Waste and Low Activity Waste facilities' systems that have not been reviewed by DOE.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: DOE agreed with the recommendations and in its written responses to our report stated that it had implemented them. However, we believe additional actions are needed, as indicated in the priority recommendations letter we sent to DOE in 2017. To fully address the recommendations, DOE should conduct an extent-of-condition review for WTP's High Level Waste and Low Activity Waste facilities' systems.
    Recommendation: To improve DOE's management and oversight of the WTP project, the Secretary of Energy should consider whether or to what extent construction activities for the High Level Waste and Low Activity Waste facilities should be further limited until aggressive risk mitigation strategies are developed and employed to address technical challenges that DOE, the contractor, and others have identified but not yet resolved.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: DOE has noted that these activities were already limited and stated that a specific set of criteria has been established for resuming construction on the High Level Waste facility. However, as we noted in our report, an extent-of-condition review has not been performed on the remainder of the facility's systems, and recommendations from the facility's design and operability review have not been implemented. DOE also stated that construction on the Low Activity Waste facility is nearly complete, that the WTP Federal Project Director has a detailed risk register, and that each remaining risk is being proactively mitigated. This statement, however, does not fully reflect the extent or potential seriousness of the technical risks that remain. An extent-of-condition review may mean limiting the production of new design documents until this review is complete in order to avoid potential costly rework. We believe additional actions are needed. To fully address the recommendation, DOE should consider whether or to what extent construction activities for those facilities should be further limited until this review is completed and aggressive risk mitigation strategies are developed and employed.
    Recommendation: To improve DOE's management and oversight of the WTP project, the Secretary of Energy should enlist the services of another agency or external entity to serve as an owner's agent to assist the Office of River Protection in reviewing and evaluating the WTP contractor's design and approach to mitigating design challenges.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: Congress required DOE to meet this requirement in the 2016 NDAA, and DOE reports that they issued a contract to Parsons Government Services on September 29, 2015. We have requested a copy of this contract for review to ensure that the recommendation has been addressed.
    Director: Johana Ayers
    Phone: (202) 512-5741

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help manage the risks from changes in conference participation and any potential effects on the defense S&T enterprise, the Secretary of Energy should direct the Administrator of NNSA and the relevant national lab directors, in consultation with DOE's Office of Management, to develop a plan to analyze and periodically reevaluate the risks from changes in participation at S&T conferences for any potential effects on NNSA's ability to meet its scientific mission, including identifying and collecting additional information needed to conduct this analysis.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: In August 2015, DOE updated its conference management policies and procedures to, among other things, expedite the conference attendance approval process by establishing timeframes for review and approval. According to DOE, as of September 2016, streamlining the conference approval process eliminates the need to periodically evaluate risks from changes in participation at S&T conferences. We disagree and believe this recommendation continues to have merit in order for DOE to better understand and manage the risks to achieving its S&T mission from any future changes in conference participation, and to determine if any future actions to adjust its conference approval guidelines are warranted.
    Director: David C. Trimble
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To develop reliable cost estimates for the TRU waste removal project and for the TWF construction project at LANL, the Secretary of Energy should direct NNSA and the Office of Environmental Management to revise the cost estimate for the TRU waste removal project to ensure that it uses updated assumptions based on the current understanding of project conditions, such as the status of WIPP.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of April 2017, Department of Energy (DOE) officials indicated that a revised life-cycle baseline cost estimate was prepared for all Office of Environmental Management mission work at Los Alamos National Laboratory, including transuranic waste removal work. DOE approved the revised cost estimate in July 2016. After we review documentation of the estimate, we will evaluate whether it is sufficient to close the recommendation.
    Recommendation: To develop reliable cost estimates for the TRU waste removal project and for the TWF construction project at LANL, the Secretary of Energy should direct NNSA to revise and update the TWF project's cost estimate by following all best practices for developing a reliable cost estimate that covers all life-cycle costs for better managing the project going forward.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Energy (DOE) agreed with the recommendation. As of March 2017, DOE indicated that Los Alamos National Laboratory prepared a cost estimate for the operations and maintenance of the Transuranic Waste Facility (TWF) facility in December 2015, which was reviewed and accepted by the responsible program offices. DOE indicated that the revised estimate reflected operational costs for a seven-year window and incorporated applicable best practices, including documentation of any significant deviations and uncertainties impacting the estimate, among other things. After we obtain documentation of the estimate, we will evaluate the action to determine whether it is sufficient to close the recommendation as implemented.
    Director: David C. Trimble
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    5 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help improve its ability to assess the risk of improper payments and make more effective use of DOE and contractor resources, the Secretary of Energy should direct the department's Chief Financial Officer to revise the department's IPERA guidance and direct field office sites with responsibility for non-M&O contractor risk assessments to address risk factors as they relate to those sites and take steps to ensure sites implement it.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of May 2017, DOE had revised its fiscal year 2015 and 2016 improper payments guidance. The revised guidance directs field office sites with responsibility for non-M&O contractor risk assessments to address risk factors as they relate to those sites. The guidance further requires each site Chief Financial Officer to certify to the accuracy of improper payments and risk rating. We will continue to monitor DOE's efforts to ensure sites implement this new guidance.
    Recommendation: To help improve its ability to assess the risk of improper payments and make more effective use of DOE and contractor resources, the Secretary of Energy should direct the department's Chief Financial Officer to revise the department's IPERA guidance and clarify how payment sites are to address risk factors and document the basis for their risk rating determinations and take steps to ensure sites implement it.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of May 2017, DOE had revised its fiscal years 2015 and 2016 improper payments guidance requiring sites to prepare risk assessments using a new risk assessment format. The guidance states that the new format was developed to improve consistency among the sites and improve documentation supporting the risk ratings. In the new format, each risk factor includes a description of the risk factor, rating criteria and/or questions to consider during the evaluation to assist sites in determining a risk rating by payment type. The guidance also requires all sites to maintain supporting documentation for their risk assessment. We will continue to monitor DOE's efforts to ensure sites implement this new guidance.
    Recommendation: To help improve its ability to assess the risk of improper payments and make more effective use of DOE and contractor resources, the Secretary of Energy should direct the department's Chief Financial Officer to revise the department's IPERA guidance and clarify who is responsible at DOE for reviewing and approving risk assessments for consistency across sites and take steps to ensure those entities implement it.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of May 2017, DOE had revised its fiscal years 2015 and 2016 improper payments guidance to require site Chief Financial Officers and the Director of Risk Management of the Loan Programs Office to provide a signed certification to DOE's Director of the Office of Finance and Accounting certifying to the accuracy of improper payments and the risk assessment and rating submitted. The guidance provides templates for these certifications. We will continue to monitor DOE's efforts to ensure sites implement this new guidance.
    Recommendation: To help improve its ability to assess the risk of improper payments and make more effective use of DOE and contractor resources, the Secretary of Energy should direct the department's Chief Financial Officer to revise the department's IPERA guidance and provide specific examples of other risk factors that present inherent risks likely to contribute to significant improper payments, in addition to the eight risk factors, direct payment sites to consider those when performing their improper payment risk assessments, and take steps to ensure sites implement it.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of May 2017, DOE had revised its fiscal year 2015 and 2016 improper payments guidance. In addition to the required OMB risk factors, the guidance added the following additional risk factors to be included in the risk assessments: (1) contractor payment processing oversight and (2) segregation of duties. The guidance states these factors have been added to ensure that inherently high-risk areas that can contribute to a site's susceptibility to significant improper payments are properly evaluated. We will continue to monitor DOE's efforts to ensure sites implement this new guidance.
    Recommendation: To provide better transparency regarding its total known improper payments reported under IPERA, the Secretary of Energy should direct the department's Chief Financial Officer to improve public reporting on the amount of total known improper payments by disclosing additional information regarding this amount and the extent to which improper payments could be occurring.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of May 2017, DOE had added supplemental information to its fiscal year 2016 Agency Financial Report. We will continue to gather additional information from DOE to determine the extent to which this information addresses the amount of total known improper payments.
    Director: David C. Trimble
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: To minimize the risk of developing unreliable AOAs and incurring major cost increases and schedule delays on projects, the Secretary of Energy should direct DOE's Office of Acquisition and Project Management to update its project management order requirements to incorporate best practices for conducting an AOA.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: In May 2016, DOE updated its project management order (Order 413.3B) to require that AOAs for capital asset acquisition projects be consistent with published GAO best practices. DOE also planned to issue an AOA guide that will be critical to ensuring implementation of the new AOA requirement by providing DOE procedures for conducting reliable AOAs. According to a DOE official, development of the guide was on hold indefinitely along with all other actions to publish new, or update existing departmental directives in response to the two Presidential Executive Orders issued in January and February 2017 that directed federal agencies to, among other things, reduce and reform agency regulations. In the interim, DOE issued an AOA handbook in April 2017 but will not have fully addressed the recommendation until it completes the guide.
    Director: David C. Trimble
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure that DOE's long-term plans for storing waste in the existing SSTs and DSTs at Hanford consider the condition of the tanks and the WTP construction delay, the Secretary of Energy should assess the extent to which the factors that may have led to corrosion in AY-102 are present in any of the other 27 DSTs.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of Nov. 23, 2016, DOE is still working to empty the waste from the leaking tank as required by a 2014 settlement agreement with the State of Washington (scheduled to be complete in March 2017). Once the tank is emptied, DOE plans to assess the cause of the leak and begin to address the recommendation. When we confirm what actions DOE has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To ensure that DOE's long-term plans for storing waste in the existing SSTs and DSTs at Hanford consider the condition of the tanks and the WTP construction delay, the Secretary of Energy should update the schedule for retrieving waste from the tanks, taking into consideration (1) the impact of the delays in the WTP, (2) the risks associated with continuing to store waste in aging tanks, and (3) an analysis of available DST space.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of Nov. 23, 2016, DOE plans to update its Hanford Site System Plan by October 2017. According to DOE, this update will address the recommendation. When we confirm what actions DOE has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To ensure that DOE's long-term plans for storing waste in the existing SSTs and DSTs at Hanford consider the condition of the tanks and the WTP construction delay, the Secretary of Energy should assess the alternatives for creating new RCRA-compliant tank space for the waste from the SSTs, including building new DSTs.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of December 6, 2016, DOE officials indicated that DOE intends to assess the feasibility of new DST construction as part of its update to the Hanford Site System Plan (to be released October 2017). According to DOE, several contingency actions will be included in the scenarios that will be analyzed including new DST construction. When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: David Trimble
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    2 open recommendations
    including 2 priority recommendations
    Recommendation: To enhance NNSA's ability to develop reliable cost estimates for its projects and for its programs that have project-like characteristics, the Secretary of Energy should revise DOE directives that apply to programs to require that DOE and NNSA and its contractors develop cost estimates in accordance with the 12 cost estimating best practices, including developing life-cycle cost estimates for programs.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: In its written comments, DOE stated that it is in the process of substantially revising the existing DOE Order 130.1, and that as part of this effort, DOE will assess the requirement for program cost estimates and will revise the order to provide more specificity on the cost estimating requirements. Further, DOE stated that the revised order will (1) define which DOE and NNSA program budget requests require cost estimates and (2) clarify that cost estimates for program budget submissions shall be conducted in accordance with the DOE cost estimating guide (or its successor policy). As of October 2016, DOE stated that it is working to implement a new funding execution system that has delayed revision of DOE Order 130.1. The new system will impact the budget practices, planning, policies and processes that will be outlined in the revised DOE 130.1. The department is in the final testing phases of the system and can now begin to initiate internal approval to update DOE Order 130.1. DOE stated that it anticipated issuance of a fully approved DOE Order 130.1 by August 30, 2017
    Recommendation: To enhance NNSA's ability to develop reliable cost estimates for its projects and for its programs that have project-like characteristics, the Secretary of Energy should revise DOE requirements and guidance that apply to programs to ensure that program reviews are conducted periodically, including reviews of the life-cycle cost estimates for programs.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: In written comments, DOE stated that it is in the process of substantially revising the existing DOE Order 130.1, and that as part of this effort the department will assess requirements for program reviews and the linkage between program reviews and the budget formulation process. As of October 2016, DOE stated that it is working to implement a new funding execution system that has delayed revision of DOE Order 130.1. The new system will impact the budget practices, planning, policies and processes that will be outlined in the revised DOE Order 130.1. DOE is in the final testing phases of the system and can now begin to initiate internal approval to update the order. The department anticipated issuance of a fully approved DOE Order 130.1 by August 30, 2017.
    Director: Frank Rusco
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help achieve and sustain public acceptance for future spent nuclearfuel management efforts, the Secretary of the Department of Energy should develop and implement a coordinated outreach strategy for providing information to specific stakeholders and the general public on federal activities related to managing spent nuclear fuel.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Gregory C. Wilshusen
    Phone: (202) 512-6244

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure that the privacy and security controls of contractor-operated systems are being properly overseen, the Secretary of Energy should develop, document, and implement oversight procedures for ensuring that, for each contractor-operated system, a system test plan is developed.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOE concurred with the recommendation. However, DOE has not yet provided sufficient evidence that it has implemented the recommendation. We plan to validate the department's actions when DOE informs us that it has satisfactorily implemented the recommendation.
    Recommendation: To ensure that the privacy and security controls of contractor-operated systems are being properly overseen, the Secretary of Energy should develop, document, and implement oversight procedures for ensuring that, for each contractor-operated system, a system test is fully executed.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOE concurred with the recommendation. However, DOE has not yet provided sufficient evidence that it has implemented the recommendation. We plan to validate the department's actions when DOE informs us that it has implemented the recommendation.
    Recommendation: To ensure that the privacy and security controls of contractor-operated systems are being properly overseen, the Secretary of Energy should develop, document, and implement oversight procedures for ensuring that, for each contractor-operated system, test results are reviewed by agency officials.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOE concurred with the recommendation. However, DOE has not yet provided sufficient evidence that it has implemented the recommendation. We plan to validate the department's actions when DOE informs us that it has implemented the recommendation.
    Director: Frank Rusco
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To better prepare the Department of Energy to meet the requirement of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 to deploy the NGNP prototype reactor, DOE should develop, in consultation with the Nuclear Energy Advisory Committee and independent nuclear experts, as appropriate, a strategy to proceed with Phase 2 of the NGNP Project, outlining conditions that will warrant a change in program direction, remaining research and development activities, projected project budget and schedule, and steps necessary to overcome barriers to successful completion of the NGNP Project.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to Department of Energy officials, DOE is currently finalizing a Vision and Strategy document pertinent to advanced nuclear reactors. When this document is complete we will assess whether it meets the intent of the GAO recommendation.
    Recommendation: To better prepare the Department of Energy to meet the requirement of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 to deploy the NGNP prototype reactor, DOE should provide a report to Congress complying with the statutory requirement for Phase 1 of the NGNP Project by providing initial design parameters or a date for providing them. The report should also provide an updated status of the issues DOE identified in its 2011 letter to Congress and outline any additional barriers to proceeding with Phase 2 of the project, including (1) the status of the establishment of a public-private partnership; (2) the project strategy, including conditions that would warrant restarting the project; and (3) a legislative proposal, if necessary, to address any barriers to proceeding with the project, including the site and cost-share requirements.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Energy stated that it "respectfully disagrees" with this recommendation and would not be taking action to address it. DOE considers this recommendation closed. However, DOE stated that it will continue to provide information to, and work with, Congress, industry, and other interested stakeholders with respect to its activities in the area of next generation reactor research and development. As such, GAO will continue to monitor any DOE action related to this recommendation.
    Director: Frank Rusco
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    2 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: To reduce uncertainty about the expected cost and schedule of the U.S. ITER Project and its potential impact on the U.S. fusion program, once the ITER Organization completes its reassessment of the international project schedule, the Secretary of Energy should direct the Associate Director of the Office of Fusion Energy Sciences to use that schedule, if reliable, to propose a final, stable funding plan for the U.S. ITER Project, approve a performance baseline with finalized cost and schedule estimates, and communicate this information to Congress.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: As of June 2017, the ITER Council had approved a revised international project schedule through the achievement of first plasma, and DOE had used that revised schedule to establish a performance baseline for the first plasma portion of the U.S. ITER Project. DOE had also communicated that performance baseline to Congress through its fiscal year 2018 budget request. However, DOE has not yet set a performance baseline for the post-first plasma portion of the U.S. ITER Project. DOE officials told us they planned to do so once the Secretary of Energy has made a decision on whether the U.S. would continue to participate in ITER, a decision which officials expected to happen at the end of 2017.
    Recommendation: To reduce uncertainty about the expected cost and schedule of the U.S. ITER Project and its potential impact on the U.S. fusion program, the Secretary of Energy should direct the Associate Director of the Office of Fusion Energy Sciences to direct the U.S. ITER Project Office to revise and update the project's cost estimate to meet all characteristics of high-quality, reliable cost estimates. Specifically, the U.S. ITER Project Office should revise the project's cost estimate to ensure it is credible by including a comprehensive sensitivity analysis that includes all significant cost elements and conducting an independent cost estimate.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of June 2017, DOE had revised and updated the cost estimate for the first plasma portion of the U.S. ITER Project. Officials reported that, as part of that update, the U.S. ITER Project Office had completed a comprehensive sensitivity analysis and that the Office of Science's Office of Project Assessment had conducted a review of the revised cost estimate. However, DOE had yet to revise and update the cost estimate for the post-first plasma portion of the U.S. ITER Project. DOE officials told us they planned to do so when they set a performance baseline for that portion of the project, which they expected to do once the Secretary of Energy has made a decision on whether the U.S. would continue to participate in ITER. Officials expected that decision to happen at the end of 2017.
    Director: Carol R. Cha
    Phone: (202) 512-4456

    6 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure the effective management of software licenses, the Secretary of Energy should develop an agency-wide comprehensive policy for the management of software licenses that addresses the weaknesses we identified.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: In the Department of Energy's written comments the agency neither agreed nor disagreed with our recommendation, but stated it has taken a number of steps to aggregate software licensing. In March 2017, Energy reported that it had developed an agency-wide comprehensive policy for the management of software licenses. In addition, the department reported that the policy encourages the consolidation of software package acquisition, volume purchasing arrangements, enterprise wide agreements and best practices in software implementation. However, the department has not yet provided documentation of its policy. We will follow-up with the department to obtain supporting documentation and continue to monitor its progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To ensure the effective management of software licenses, the Secretary of Energy should employ a centralized software license management approach that is coordinated and integrated with key personnel for the majority of agency software license spending and/or enterprise-wide licenses.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: In the Department of Energy's written comments the agency neither agreed nor disagreed with our recommendation, but stated it had taken a number of steps to aggregate software licensing, and at that time had no plans to centralize software licensing. In March 2017, the department reported that it's Office of the Chief Information Officer's Enterprise Wide Agreement (EWA) program host periodic conference calls with key IT representatives across the department's complex and recommend common software for consideration by the EWA program. In addition, the department reported that its Office of Management, Strategic Programs Division holds meetings throughout the department to facilitate a centralized management approach towards purchasing. However, the department has not provided evidence that it employs a centralized software management approach that is coordinated and integrated with key personnel for the majority of the agency's software licenses spending and/or enterprise-wide licenses. We will continue to monitor the agency's progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To ensure the effective management of software licenses, the Secretary of Energy should establish a comprehensive inventory of software licenses using automated tools for the majority of agency software license spending and/or enterprise-wide licenses.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: In the Department of Energy's written comments the agency neither agreed nor disagreed with our recommendation, but stated it had taken a number of steps to aggregate software licensing, and at that time had no plans to centralize software licensing. In March 2017, the department reported that it's Office of the Chief Information Officer's Enterprise Wide Agreement (EWA) program hosts periodic conference calls with key IT representatives across the department's complex and recommend common software for consideration by the EWA program. In addition, the department reported that its Office of Management, Strategic Programs Division holds meetings throughout the department to facilitate a centralized management approach towards purchasing. However, the department has not provided evidence that it employs a centralized software management approach that is coordinated and integrated with key personnel for the majority of the department's software licenses spending and/or enterprise-wide licenses. We will continue to monitor the department's progress in implementing this recommendation
    Recommendation: To ensure the effective management of software licenses, the Secretary of Energy should regularly track and maintain a comprehensive inventory of software licenses using automated tools and metrics.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: In Energy's written comments the agency neither agreed nor disagreed with our recommendation. In March 2017, DOE reported on actions to implement this recommendation. Consistent with the Act's provisions, Energy is working with GSA on providing usage data and support needed for the establishment of government-wide software contracts. The agency noted that it continues to use Continuous Monitoring and Diagnostic tools to inventory and consolidate software usage and eliminate unnecessary maintenance support costs. We have not yet validated agency actions on this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To ensure the effective management of software licenses, the Secretary of Energy should analyze agency-wide software license data, such as costs, benefits, usage, and trending data, to identify opportunities to reduce costs and better inform investment decision making.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: In the Department of Energy's written comments the agency neither agreed nor disagreed with our recommendation, but stated it has taken a number of steps to aggregate software licensing. In March 2017, Energy stated that it is analyzing agency-wide software data through the CIO's Enterprise Wide Agreement program which hosts periodic conference calls with key IT representatives across Energy. However, Energy has not provided evidence that it is fully analyzing agency-wide software license data to inform investment decisions and identify opportunities to reduce costs. We will follow up with the agency to obtain supporting documents and continue to monitor its progress in implementing this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To ensure the effective management of software licenses, the Secretary of Energy should provide software license management training to appropriate agency personnel addressing contract terms and conditions, negotiations, laws and regulations, acquisition, security planning, and configuration management.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: In Energy's written comments the agency neither agreed nor disagreed with our recommendation. In March 2017, the department noted that training for employees is managed on an office-by-office basis as part of the Individual Development and Training Needs Assessment Process and those individuals needing such training can be self-identified or identified by their supervisor for training. We will follow up with Energy to obtain documentation on its software license management training.
    Director: David C. Trimble
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    5 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: To ensure that DOE's cooperative agreement and internal documentation supporting its June 2012 acceptance of depleted uranium tails are accurate and transparent, the Secretary of Energy should continue to review the accuracy of its documentation associated with this transaction and seek an independent review of this documentation by a third party, such as the DOE Inspector General.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOE disagreed with our recommendation, and as of March 2017, has not taken steps to implement it. GAO staff will follow-up on this recommendation in fiscal year 2017.
    Recommendation: If DOE continues to transfer, sell, or barter depleted uranium tails pursuant to its general authority under the Atomic Energy Act, notwithstanding that the USEC Privatization Act likely prohibits such actions, to ensure that DOE is receiving the required compensation under the Atomic Energy Act and DOE policy, the Secretary of Energy should develop guidance for setting an appropriate method for determining the value of depleted uranium tails when transferring them as an asset and apply the method consistently and transparently, prior to conducting such transfers, sales, or barters.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: DOE disagreed with our recommendation and, as of March 2017, has not taken steps to implement it. DOE has maintained that the department is not required to establish guidance or a pricing policy for depleted uranium and that doing so would hinder DOE's ability to maximize the value received by the government in a given transaction. We continue to believe that having guidance that provides a consistent and transparent method of determining the value of tails in the context of a transaction is necessary to help DOE ensure that it is receiving reasonable compensation in return for its tails, especially given the potential for future tails transactions
    Recommendation: To ensure that DOE mitigates risks associated with achieving the expected benefits of future uranium transactions that may rely on third-party contracts, the Secretary of Energy should take steps to mitigate the risks for each uranium transaction, in accordance with federal internal control standards.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOE disagreed with our recommendation, and as of March 2017, has not taken steps to implement it. GAO staff will follow-up on this recommendation in fiscal year 2017.
    Recommendation: To ensure the quality, credibility, and transparency of any future uranium market impact studies, the Secretary of Energy should (1) conduct a rigorous and documented internal assessment consistent with contract provisions and the Department of Energy's Information Quality Guidelines of the quality of such studies and/or have an independent third party conduct a peer review; and (2) to the extent that market impact studies are made publicly available, require that studies include information on the methods, data sources, and assumptions used in such a way that allows others to understand, interpret, and evaluate the studies consistent with DOE's Information Quality Guidelines.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOE disagreed with our recommendation, and as of March 2017, has not taken steps to implement it. GAO staff will follow-up on this recommendation in fiscal year 2017.
    Recommendation: To further ensure that DOE's future uranium transfers do not have an adverse material impact on the domestic uranium market, the Secretary of Energy should seek and consider industry input both on the amount of DOE sales or transfers of uranium the market can absorb annually and on whether there is a need to reinstitute a guideline that limits annual uranium sales or transfers.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOE disagreed with our recommendation, and as of March 2017, has not taken steps to implement it. GAO staff will follow-up on this recommendation in fiscal year 2017.
    Director: Frank Rusco
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To provide greater assurance that DOE is effectively monitoring its loans, the Secretary of Energy should direct the Executive Director of the Loan Programs Office to fully develop its organizational structure by staffing key monitoring positions.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of April 2017, while the Loan Programs Office (LPO)had made some progress in filling key monitoring positions, several vacancies in the leadership of the Special Assets and Risk Management Divisions remained. LPO officials noted they were unlikely to fill any of these staffing vacancies given budget and program uncertainties.
    Director: David C. Trimble
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To identify lessons learned from and provide assurance of preventing recurrence of cost increases for the MOX facility and WSB, and to develop reliable cost estimates for the Plutonium Disposition program, the Secretary of Energy should direct the DOE and NNSA Offices of Acquisition and Project Management and the NNSA office responsible for managing the Plutonium Disposition program, as appropriate, to revise and update the program's life-cycle cost estimate following the 12 key steps described in the GAO Cost Estimating and Assessment Guide for developing high-quality cost estimates, such as conducting an independent cost estimate to provide an objective and unbiased assessment of whether the estimate can be achieved.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOE is currently evaluating dilute and dispose as a potential alternative approach to the MOX approach. As a result, DOE does not plan to update the Plutonium Disposition Program life-cycle estimate until a decision is made on which approach to pursue. We will continue to monitor this situation and update the status of this recommendation once DOE has made a decision on the approach taken by this program.
    Recommendation: To identify lessons learned from and provide assurance of preventing recurrence of cost increases for the MOX facility and WSB, and to develop reliable cost estimates for the Plutonium Disposition program, the Secretary of Energy should direct the DOE and NNSA Offices of Acquisition and Project Management and the NNSA office responsible for managing the Plutonium Disposition program, as appropriate, to ensure that the MOX contractor revises its proposal for increasing the cost of the MOX facility to meet all best practices for a high-quality, reliable cost estimate--for example, by cross-checking major cost elements to determine whether alternative estimating methods produce similar results.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOE is currently evaluating dilute and dispose as a potential alternative approach to the MOX approach. As a result, DOE does not plan to update the proposal for increasing the cost of the MOX facility until a decision is made on which approach to pursue. We will continue to monitor this situation and update the status of this recommendation once DOE has made a decision on the approach taken by this program.
    Recommendation: To ensure that future DOE projects benefit from lessons learned that reflect the underlying causes of cost increases or schedule delays experienced by other projects, and that Congress and DOE have life-cycle cost estimates for DOE programs that include individual construction projects, the Secretary of Energy should revise DOE's project management order or otherwise implement a departmentwide requirement by requiring life-cycle cost estimates covering the full cost of programs that include both construction projects and other efforts and activities not related to construction.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOE revised its project management order in May 2016 but did not make any changes in regards to this recommendation. We will continue to monitor DOE activities, if any, related to this recommendation.
    Director: Dinapoli, Timothy J
    Phone: (202) 512-4841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve civilian IC elements' or their respective departments' ability to mitigate risks associated with the use of contractors, the Director of National Intelligence, Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Attorney General of the United States, and Secretaries of Energy and the Treasury should direct responsible agency officials to set time frames to develop guidance that fully addresses the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, Policy Letter 11-01's requirements related to closely supporting inherently governmental functions.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: In its letter to OMB and the Congress, the agency concurred with this recommendation. In July 2015, the agency issued interim guidance, but the guidance does not fully address OFPP Policy Letter 11-01. The agency explained that once the Federal Acquisition Regulation is updated, the agency's acquisition regulation will be updated as necessary to reflect the new guidance. Since that time, no further action has occurred.
    Director: Powner, David A
    Phone: (202) 512-9286

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To better ensure that the Dashboard provides accurate ratings, the Secretary of Energy should direct the department CIO to ensure that the department's investments are appropriately categorized in accordance with existing statutes and that major IT investments are included on the Dashboard.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: While the Department of Energy had agreed with this recommendation, in subsequent written correspondence, it explained that five of the eight investments noted by GAO as being IT were no longer being reported in the IT Portfolio on the Dashboard. Instead, the Department was reporting these data to OMB via an alternative reporting mechanism specific to high performance computing. In addition, the Department noted that the remaining three investments were deconsolidated or downgraded into non-major investments, or eliminated by funding and, as such, these investments will not be included on the Dashboard. However, we continue to believe that this recommendation has merit and that the remaining investments are more properly classified as IT. We will continue to monitor the Department's efforts to maintain oversight for these investments.
    Director: Powner, David A
    Phone: (202)512-9286

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve the department's implementation of PortfolioStat, in future reporting to OMB, the Secretary of Energy should direct the CIO to fully describe the following PortfolioStat action plan elements: (1) consolidate commodity IT spending under the agency CIO and (2) establish criteria for identifying wasteful, low-value, or duplicative investments.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: In its March 2014 statement of actions to address our recommendations, the Department of Energy stated that it will update its policy orders as necessary to implement the OMB policy for consolidating commodity IT under the Chief Information Officer and include a description in future OMB reporting. The department also noted that it will work to establish additional value criteria to idenitfy low-value or duplicative federal commodity IT investments, and these criteria will be described in future OMB reporting. We are reviewing the department's reporting to OMB to determine the extent to which this recommendation has been addressed.
    Director: Trimble, David C
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve DOE's management and oversight of the WFO program, the Secretary of Energy should require laboratories to establish and follow written procedures for developing WFO project budgets and for charging costs to WFO projects.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to DOE, the Chief Financial Officer will address this recommendation as part of the revisions to DOE Order 520.1A. As of March 2017, DOE anticipates that the updated order will be completed in the first quarter of fiscal year 2018.
    Recommendation: To improve DOE's management and oversight of the WFO program, the Secretary of Energy should ensure that annual summary reports of WFO activities are prepared so that data on those activities are readily available for those who need this information.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: On December 5, 2016, DOE issued revised order 481.1D, Strategic Partnership Projects (SPP) [Formerly Known as Work for Others (Non-Department of Energy Funded Work)] and has removed the requirement to issue annual summary reports of Work for Others activities. Instead, the revised order states that reports can be prepared on an "as needed" basis.
    Recommendation: To improve DOE's management and oversight of the WFO program, the Secretary of Energy should establish performance measures that incorporate key attributes of successful performance measures and that address the objectives of the WFO program.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: On December 5, 2016, DOE issued revised order 481.1D Strategic Partnership Projects (SPP)[Formerly Known as Work for Others (Non-Department of Energy Funded Work)]. DOE states that this order addresses performance measures and that the corrective action is closed. Although the order directs DOE Field Office Managers to "establish performance measures to assess the effectiveness of the procedures for SPP review, acceptance, authorization and monitoring consistent with NNSA policies and procedures", it does not further identify specific performance measures that address the objectives of the SPP program as indicated in the order.
    Director: Trimble, David C
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure that NNSA's investments in plutonium research facilities and capabilities result in an operationally effective and affordable solution, the Secretary of Energy should continue efforts to assess how plutonium research and other capability needs and stockpile requirements have changed, if at all, since the needs were revalidated in 2008, and develop a plan to appropriately meet the nation's near-term and longer-term plutonium needs.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of June 2017, NNSA is taking some actions to assess plutonium research and stockpile needs and to plan for meeting near-term and longer-term plutonium needs, but it is not certain whether these actions will address GAO's recommendation. As a result, the recommendation remains open. Since making this recommendation, GAO has conducted additional, related work (published as GAO-16-585), and NNSA's responses to recommendations made in GAO-16-585 may help satisfy this earlier recommendation. In response to recommendations for GAO-16-585, NNSA stated that it would take a number of actions related to assessing plutonium research needs and planning for longer-term needs as part of two projects: the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement (CMRR) project and the Plutonium Modular Approach. NNSA stated that it would update the CMRR requirements document to clarify the relationship between CMRR's research capabilities and NNSA's overall plutonium strategy, estimating it would complete this action by the end of 2017. NNSA stated that it has initiated the analysis of alternatives for the Plutonium Modular Approach, which will include identifying requirements related to meeting plutonium needs. NNSA has not estimated a completion date for the analysis of alternatives. We will determine whether NNSA's actions satisfy this recommendation once the actions have been completed.
    Director: Trimble, David C
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help improve its ability to oversee M&O contractor costs, including indirect costs, for its laboratories and make more effective use of DOE and contractor resources, the Secretary of Energy should take--or, as appropriate, direct the Administrator of NNSA to incorporate more specific benchmarking requirements into future laboratory contracts--similar to the benchmarking requirements used by DOE to assess and manage pension and post-retirement benefit costs--including which costs should be benchmarked, how frequently benchmarking should occur, and what process should be used to ensure corrective actions are taken, as needed.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: In April 2017, the Director of NNSA Office of Policy issued guidance to NNSA Laboratory Field Office Managers to update contracts to include a new clause requiring laboratory contractors to submit a strategic plan every year in accordance with guidance. Part of the annual plan requires contractors to discuss the costs of doing business and cost-increase factors at the sites, including overhead dollars. The annual strategic plan is due to the NNSA Office of Policy by August 15 each year. This plan is expected to allow NNSA to conduct the benchmarking activities recommended by our report, which can then be considered in current and future laboratory contracts.
    Director: Gaffigan, Mark E
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help ensure that EM more effectively manages all its projects, the Secretary of Energy should direct the Senior Advisor for Environmental Management and the Director of the Office of Management, as appropriate, to provide the Office of Acquisition and Project Management with information on EM's project classification decisions to ensure that all capital asset projects have been appropriately classified and are managed in accordance with DOE Order 413.3B.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: When commenting on our report, DOE agreed with our recommendation. According to agency information provided in March 2017, DOE has ongoing internal discussions to develop and document a policy addressing EM capital asset project and operations activity classifications. However, DOE has not yet established and approved such a policy.
    Director: Cha, Carol
    Phone: (202) 512-3000

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To enhance federal agencies' ability to realize enterprise architecture benefits, the Secretaries of the Departments of Agriculture, the Air Force, the Army, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Homeland Security, the Interior, Labor, the Navy, State, Transportation, the Treasury, and Veterans Affairs; the Attorney General; the Administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency, General Services Administration, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and Small Business Administration; the Commissioners of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Social Security Administration; and the Directors of the National Science Foundation and the Office of Personnel Management should fully establish an approach for measuring enterprise architecture outcomes, including a documented method (i.e., steps to be followed) and metrics that are measurable, meaningful, repeatable, consistent, actionable, and aligned with the agency's enterprise architecture's strategic goals and intended purpose.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Energy has not implemented our recommendation. In March 2017, the department's Office of the Chief Information Officer reported that the department was evaluating actions to better integrate enterprise architecture practices into the department's information technology strategic planning, capital planning and investment control, and program management processes. The Office of the Chief Information Officer further reported that the department expected to develop a plan to measure and report architecture outcomes by the end of fiscal year 2017.
    Recommendation: To enhance federal agencies' ability to realize enterprise architecture benefits, the Secretaries of the Departments of Agriculture, the Air Force, the Army, Commerce, Defense, Education, Energy, Homeland Security, the Interior, Labor, the Navy, State, Transportation, the Treasury, and Veterans Affairs; the Attorney General; the Administrators of the Environmental Protection Agency, General Services Administration, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and Small Business Administration; the Commissioners of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Social Security Administration; and the Directors of the National Science Foundation and the Office of Personnel Management should periodically measure and report enterprise architecture outcomes and benefits to top agency officials (i.e., executives with authority to commit resources or make changes to the program) and to OMB.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Energy has not yet implemented the recommendation. In March 2017, the department's Office of the Chief Information Officer reported that the department is evaluating actions to better integrate enterprise architecture practices into the department's information technology strategic planning, capital planning and investment control, and program management processes. The Office of the Chief Information Officer also reported that the department expects to develop a plan to measure and report architecture outcomes by the end of fiscal year 2017 and to have routine measures and reporting in place during fiscal year 2018.
    Director: Aloise, Eugene E
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To enhance NNSA's ability to better ensure the validity of its budget submissions, and to decide on resource trade-offs, the Secretary of Energy should direct the DOE Office of Budget to formally evaluate DOE Order 130.1 and revise as necessary, and communicate any revisions to the NNSA Administrator so that the agency will have updated provisions for assessing the quality of its budget estimates.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to DOE's audit tracking system report, for the period ending 1/28/16, DOE Office of Budget was evaluating and revising DOE Order 130.1 as necessary to include PPBE. The report states that the Office of Budget will communicate revisions to NNSA as appropriate with an estimated completion date of 9/30/16. According to a previous tracking system report, Order 130.1 was updated and placed in the management review process some time between 6/30/13 and 9/30/13. According to DOE, the Office of the Chief Financial Officer implemented a new funding execution system on October 1, 2016. The development and implementation of the new system has delayed revision of DOE Order 130.1. The new system will impact the budget practices, planning, policies and processes content that will be outlined in the revised DOE 130.1. As of June 5, 2017, DOE anticipates issuance of a fully approved DOE Order 130.1 by August 31, 2017.
    Recommendation: To enhance NNSA's ability to better ensure the validity of its budget submissions, and to decide on resource trade-offs, the Secretary of Energy, once this process is developed, should direct the Administrator of NNSA to incorporate a formal mechanism to evaluate the status of recommendations made during previous budget validation reviews so that NNSA can measure M&O contractors' and programs' progress in responding to deficiencies with their budget estimates.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: In August 2017, NNSA indicated that it intends to consolidate all PPBE business operating procedures into a single document, which has not been issued. NNSA has not determined whether a separate budget validation process, as outlined in a January 2017 policy letter, will be required and intends to conduct an effectiveness review of the existing process in approximately one year (August 2018). As a result, this recommendation remains open.
    Director: Calbom, Linda M
    Phone: (206) 287-4809

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To reduce the risk of potential duplication of efforts and further inform assessments of advisory groups, the Secretary of Transportation and the Secretary of Energy should identify and document specific steps that should be taken in periodically assessing potential duplication and the ongoing need for both FACA and non-FACA advisory groups.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: The status of this recommendation will be updated when GAO receive updated information from the Department of Energy.
    Recommendation: To reduce the risk of potential duplication of efforts and further inform assessments of advisory groups, the Secretary of Transportation and the Secretary of Energy should develop and make public (e.g., on the agency's website) information identifying non-FACA advisory groups providing advice to the agency-including the group name, agency point of contact, and a brief description of the group's purpose.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: The status of this recommendation will be updated when GAO receive updated information from the Department of Energy.
    Director: Aloise, Eugene E
    Phone: (202)512-6870

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: Once the stewardship for the isotopes have been assigned, the Secretary of Energy should direct the head of the responsible office(s) to develop strategic plans that, among other things, systematically assess and document risks to managing the isotopes and supporting activities, such as not having control over the supply of these isotopes, and implement actions needed to mitigate them.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to the Isotope Program, it has assessed supply and demand for some key isotopes and is working with stakeholders to manage supply and demand of isotopes for which the program does not control the supply of. We will review the program's actions and update the status of this recommendation.
    Director: Aloise, Eugene E
    Phone: (202)512-6870

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To strengthen NNSA's oversight practices and current and future facility modernization efforts, and to improve the transparency and usefulness of cost analyses prepared for future NNSA nuclear facilities modernization projects, the Secretary of Energy should direct the Administrator of NNSA to ensure that life cycle cost analyses include a thorough and balanced evaluation of short- and long-term construction and financing alternatives. Such analyses should consider the full useful life of the facility rather than the 20-year requirement for GSA leases or any predetermined length of time that might produce results that favor one option over another.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: NNSA provided evidence that it requires life cycle cost analyses for projects greater than $20 million. However, this is not fully responsive to GAO's recommendation. For example, the recommendation stated that each life cycle cost analysis performed includes short- and long-term construction and financing alternatives and that these analyses should consider the full life of the facility rather than the 20-year requirements for GSA leases or any predetermined length of time. NNSA's actions do not address this aspect of the life cycle cost analysis. Our work found that facility's life cycle cost analysis only covered 20 years and it failed to reflect cost savings over a longer useful life (possibly over 50 years) that could have been realized if the facility were purchased instead of leased. Nothing in the draft Order addresses how the life cycle cost period to be analyzed should be established (e.g., 20 years or 50 plus years). Our review of NNSA's additional responses have not provided sufficient evidence to close the recommendation.
    Recommendation: To strengthen NNSA's oversight practices and current and future facility modernization efforts, and because of the importance of mitigating the risks of outsourcing nuclear weapons components and other information that if exported, might allow potential adversaries to develop or advance their nuclear capabilities, the Secretary of Energy should direct the Administrator of NNSA to take immediate action to assess the effectiveness of NNSA's oversight of KCP's current export control and nonproliferation practices and, if appropriate, initiate corrective actions to strengthen that oversight.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: While NNSA/contractor actions are commendable and appear to be beneficial, such as adding performance-based incentives, training 950 employees, and including new contract clauses in its supplier purchase orders, these actions do not fully satisfy the recommendation. GAO's recommendation was specifically directed at the effectiveness of NNSA's oversight of the KCP contractor's export control and nonproliferation practices and to initiate corrective actions to strengthen that NNSA oversight. While the Kansas City Site Office's addition of a performance based incentive seems to be a good improvement, NNSA has not demonstrated its own oversight effectiveness. Our review of NNSA's response provided in March 2014 was not persuasive. In addition, GAO-16-710 found that as of May 2016, the Secretary of Energy had not used the enhanced procurement authority to ensure supply chain integrity, and the Department of Energy (DOE) had not developed processes for using the authority, as it had not fully assessed the circumstances under which the authority might be useful.
    Director: Aloise, Eugene E
    Phone: (202)512-6870

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure that NNSA functions as a separately organized agency, the Secretary of Energy and the Administrator, NNSA, should clearly define NNSA's status as a separately organized agency within the department.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: In his 31 USC Section 720 response to our report, the Deputy Secretary of Energy stated that he did not concur with this recommendation. He stated that elements of the Department and the NNSA had executed memoranda of understanding specifying how certain Department-wide functions would be performed while respecting the statutory insulation of NNSA personnel. He also stated that the Department will consider issuing circumstance-specific guidance where required to correct misperceptions about the effect of the NNSA's act limitations. NNSA's relationship with DOE continues to evolve. NNSA asserted its independence aggressively through July 2012 when an important security incident took place at the Y-12 plant. Since that time, NNSA has been less independent.