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    Federal Agency: "National Nuclear Security Administration"

    16 publications with a total of 25 open recommendations including 2 priority recommendations
    Director: David C. Trimble
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The NNSA Administrator should determine the critical skills and competencies that will be needed for the strategic materials programs and use this determination to develop strategies for addressing challenges, if any, related to the number, deployment, and alignment of program staff (Recommendation 1).

    Agency: Department of Energy: National Nuclear Security Administration
    Status: Open

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

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The NNSA Deputy Administrator for DNN should revise the DNN program management policy to require DNN programs and subprograms to follow life-cycle program management. These requirements should include development of schedule and cost estimates that cover the life cycle of DNN programs and subprograms, use of methods to account for uncertainty and risk in such estimates, use of cost and schedule baselines to measure performance over program and subprogram life cycles, and development of program management plans. (Recommendation 1)

    Agency: Department of Energy: National Nuclear Security Administration: Office of Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation
    Status: Open

    Comments: 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

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The NNSA Administrator should set a time frame for when the agency will (1) develop the complete scope of work for the overall uranium program to the extent practicable and (2) prepare a life-cycle cost estimate and an integrated master schedule for the overall uranium program.

    Agency: Department of Energy: National Nuclear Security Administration
    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 help NNSA put forth more credible modernization plans, the NNSA Administrator should include an assessment of the affordability of NNSA's portfolio of modernization programs in future versions of the Stockpile Stewardship and Management Plan--for example, by presenting options NNSA could consider to bring its estimates of modernization funding needs into alignment with potential future budgets, such as potentially deferring the start of or canceling specific modernization programs.

    Agency: Department of Energy: National Nuclear Security Administration
    Status: Open

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

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The NNSA Administrator should direct the DNN R&D program to track and document the transitioned and deployed technologies that result from its research and technology development projects, to the extent practicable.

    Agency: Department of Energy: National Nuclear Security Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken, we will update.
    Recommendation: The NNSA Administrator should direct the DNN R&D and NPAC programs to document, using a common template or other means, their assessment that compares the final results of each project against the baseline targets established in each project's initial project plan.

    Agency: Department of Energy: National Nuclear Security Administration
    Status: Open

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

    1 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: To help provide a roadmap to effectively guide NNSA's effort to integrate and improve its financial management, the NNSA Administrator should direct the Program Director of Financial Integration to develop a plan for producing cost information that fully incorporates leading practices.

    Agency: Department of Energy: National Nuclear Security Administration
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: NNSA agreed with the recommendation. In its written responses to our report, NNSA stated that it will address the items we identified in its annual update to Congress on its financial integration initiative.
    Director: David C. Trimble
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help ensure compliance with the United States' nuclear cooperation agreements, the Under Secretary for Nuclear Security, as the Administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, should clarify in guidance the conditions under which facilities may carry negative obligation balances.

    Agency: Department of Energy: National Nuclear Security Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of March 2017, NNSA has several initiatives underway to implement this recommendation. Later in 2017, we will know what changes NNSA and NRC made.
    Recommendation: To help ensure compliance with the United States' nuclear cooperation agreements, the Under Secretary for Nuclear Security, as the Administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, should develop an early-warning monitoring capability in NMMSS to alert senior DOE officials when the inventory of unobligated LEU is particularly low.

    Agency: Department of Energy: National Nuclear Security Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of March 2017, NNSA has several initiatives underway to implement this recommendation. Later in 2017, we will know what changes NNSA and NRC made to NMMSS.
    Director: David Trimble
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help ensure that NNSA can better inform long-term planning and management decision making as well as to ensure that the Enhanced Surveillance Program complements NNSA's other efforts to assess the nuclear weapons stockpile, the NNSA Administrator should develop a long-term strategy for the Enhanced Surveillance Program that incorporates outcome-oriented strategic goals, addresses management challenges and identifies resources needed to achieve these goals, and develops and uses performance measures to track progress in achieving these goals.

    Agency: Department of Energy: National Nuclear Security Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: Fiscal year 2018 budget submission data indicates some new activities but not yet mention a strategy change.
    Director: David C. Trimble
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure that any future NNSA effort--through the OTH initiative or another process--to assess proliferation threats and the implications for DNN produces high-quality information, the NNSA Administrator should implement established methods, including literature reviews, structured interviews, and peer reviews.

    Agency: Department of Energy: National Nuclear Security Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: NNSA is in the process of revising its threat assessment process. We are currently evaluating NNSA's actions.
    Director: David C. Trimble
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve transparency in future NNSA budget materials so that they are more useful for congressional decision makers, the Administrator of NNSA should, in instances where NNSA's internal cost estimates for a life extension program suggest that additional funding may be needed beyond what is included in the 5-year budget estimates to align with the program's plan, identify the amount of the shortfall in its budget materials and, what, if any, effect the shortfall may have on the program's cost and schedule or the risk of achieving program objectives.

    Agency: Department of Energy: National Nuclear Security Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: In commenting on the report, the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) agreed with this recommendation and outlined planned actions to incorporate the recommendation into the agency's fiscal year 2017 budget materials. However, the level of additional transparency for life extension programs in NNSA's fiscal year 2017 budget materials appears mixed. GAO will conduct additional follow-up with NNSA in 2017 following release of the fiscal year 2018 Stockpile Stewardship and Management Plan to clarify and assess prospects for further transparency with respect to funding shortfalls for life extension programs.
    Recommendation: To improve transparency in future NNSA budget materials so that they are more useful for congressional decision makers, the Administrator of NNSA should, in instances where budget estimates do not achieve DOE benchmarks for maintenance and recapitalization investment over the 5-year budget estimates, identify in the budget materials the amount of the shortfall and the effects, if any, on the deferred maintenance backlog.

    Agency: Department of Energy: National Nuclear Security Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: In commenting on the report, the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) agreed with this recommendation and outlined planned actions to incorporate the recommendation into the agency's fiscal year 2017 budget materials. However, the fiscal year 2017 NNSA budget materials do not support the benchmarked levels of funding needed to address maintenance and recapitalization, and there was no apparent discussion of the shortfall and likely effects on the deferred maintenance backlog in those materials. GAO will follow up on this recommendation in 2017 and 2018 to assess adequacy of funding in NNSA's fiscal year 2018 and 2019 budget materials and any applicable explanations of shortfalls.
    Director: David C. Trimble
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    5 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: To improve the internal control environment for oversight using information from CAS and develop a consistent approach to the use of information from CAS in M&O contractor oversight and performance evaluation across the nuclear security enterprise, the Administrator of NNSA should establish comprehensive NNSA policies and guidance, beyond a general framework as included in NAP-21, for using information from CAS to conduct oversight of M&O contractors, clarifying whether CAS is to cover mission-related activities, and describing how to conduct assessments of risk, CAS maturity, and the level of the contractor's past performance.

    Agency: Department of Energy: National Nuclear Security Administration
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: We recommended that NNSA establish comprehensive policies and guidance, beyond a general framework, for using information from contractor assurance systems (CAS) to conduct oversight of management and operating (M&O) contractors, clarifying whether CAS is to cover mission-related activities and describing how to conduct assessments of risk, CAS maturity, and the level of the contractor's past performance. NNSA agreed with the recommendation and has taken an important step to revise its policy. However, NNSA needs to take additional action. Specifically, NNSA approved a revised corporate site governance policy in August 2016. The revised policy improves on the agency's prior policy by clarifying one element in our recommendation that CAS is to cover mission-related activities. However the policy is still a general framework and NNSA has not established associated implementing guidance. Specifically, NNSA needs to develop guidance for NNSA headquarters' and field offices' procedures to use information from CAS and appropriately balance use of information from CAS with other more direct activities to oversee M&O contractors.
    Recommendation: To improve the internal control environment for oversight using information from CAS and develop a consistent approach to the use of information from CAS in M&O contractor oversight and performance evaluation across the nuclear security enterprise, the Administrator of NNSA should work with field office managers to establish field office procedures consistent with headquarters policy and guidance to support assessment practices for determining appropriate oversight approaches.

    Agency: Department of Energy: National Nuclear Security Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: Agency concurred with GAO's recommendation. Per DOE, NNSA will require field offices to develop new or modify existing procedures as appropriate to support the new requirements. The estimated completion date for these activities is September 30, 2016. DOE has not completed these activities by the estimated date and has not issued a revised date as of October 20, 2016.
    Recommendation: To improve the internal control environment for oversight using information from CAS and develop a consistent approach to the use of information from CAS in M&O contractor oversight and performance evaluation across the nuclear security enterprise, the Administrator of NNSA should reestablish a process for reviewing the effectiveness of field offices' oversight approaches, including their use of information from CAS.

    Agency: Department of Energy: National Nuclear Security Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: Agency concurred with recommendation. NNSA's revised Supplemental Directive (SD) 226.1B provides an approach to evaluate the effectiveness of the field oversight activities. The SD requirements include a peer review process and provide attributes that when followed, may result in improved field oversight activities. As of April 2017 The first peer review, which will pilot the review process and help assess implementation, will likely occur in June 2017 and will be conducted at the Nevada National Security Site. The next review will be in November at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. GAO will monitor the results of the pilot to determine whether and how it will be permanently implemented.
    Recommendation: To improve the internal control environment for oversight using information from CAS and develop a consistent approach to the use of information from CAS in M&O contractor oversight and performance evaluation across the nuclear security enterprise, the Administrator of NNSA should revise NNSA policy, guidance, and procedures on performance evaluation to fully address how and under what circumstances those responsible for evaluating M&O contractors' performance should use information from CAS for this purpose.

    Agency: Department of Energy: National Nuclear Security Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: Agency concurred with recommendation. While NNSA's revised Supplemental Directive addresses the use of CAS information in evaluating M&O contractor performance, NNSA has not yet developed guidance or procedures for how to use information from contractor assurance systems in its performance evaluation process.
    Recommendation: To improve the internal control environment for oversight using information from CAS and develop a consistent approach to the use of information from CAS in M&O contractor oversight and performance evaluation across the nuclear security enterprise, the Administrator of NNSA should assess NNSA's staffing needs to determine whether it has sufficient, qualified personnel to conduct oversight activities consistent with comprehensive policies and guidance, including the use of information from CAS.

    Agency: Department of Energy: National Nuclear Security Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: Agency concurred with recommendation. Action in progress. NNSA will assess staffing needs and develop a staffing strategy for defensible and sustainable oversight. This strategy will implement the corporate policy and implementing guidance, while adhering to the constraints of the National Defense Authorization Act staffing ceiling. NNSA initially estimated it would complete this activity by December 31, 2016, but it has not yet been completed.
    Director: David C. Trimble
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To enhance the usefulness of NNSA's future reports to Congress describing the costs and benefits of its competition of M&O contracts under the requirements contained in Section 3121 of the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2013, as amended, the NNSA Administrator should take steps to ensure that future reports reflect DOE's information quality guidelines, federal cost accounting standards, and GAO's best practices guidance relevant to the clear and complete presentation of information on each of the required topics. In particular, future reports should clearly and completely describe costs and benefits, including the agency's expectations, as well as the associated analysis, assumptions, information sources, and key limitations and uncertainties about costs and benefits described. The description of uncertainties should include key excluded or unspecified costs and benefits, such as those that are anticipated but not fully known at the time of report writing.

    Agency: Department of Energy: National Nuclear Security Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: NNSA recently awarded an M&O contract for Sandia NL. NNSA will have to produce a report on the costs and benefits of its competition, which will need to be delivered in early spring, 2017. Upon delivery to Congress, GAO will be able to assess whether NNSA fulfilled this recommendation.
    Director: Aloise, Eugene E
    Phone: (202)512-3000

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To provide Congress with better information on the status and progress of DNN program performance and to address clarity, reliability, and balance issues in the performance measures for specific programs, the Administrator of NNSA should develop clearer measures, especially for the Nonproliferation and Verification Research and Development (R&D) program and Material Protection, Control, and Accounting (MPC&A) programs, so the requirements and scope of program efforts can be more easily understood. For the MPC&A program in particular, reconsider the practice under its performance measure of counting buildings and facilities as having "completed" MPC&A upgrades, where there is additional or ongoing security work under way or planned.

    Agency: Department of Energy: National Nuclear Security Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: According to NNSA officials, neither the Nonproliferation and Verification R&D performance measure nor the MPC&A program performance measure were changed in response to our recommendation to provide further clarity it NNSA's performance reporting. Regarding the Nonproliferation and Verification R&D program performance measures, NNSA officials stated the measures as written provide sufficient information to program management to assess progress; regarding the MPC&A program performance measure, NNSA officials said that the measure, while unchanged, was being phased out as a performance measure due to the discontinuation of program work in Russia. GAO raised similar concerns regarding the clarity of the performance measures for the DNN R&D program -- the successor program to the Nonproliferation and Verification R&D program -- in a February 2017 report (GAO-17-210). GAO will will follow up with NNSA in fiscal year 2018 on both GAO-12-71 and GAO-17-210, including reviewing NNSA's fiscal year 2019 budget request, to assess any actions taken by the agency to clarify its publicly reported R&D performance measure.
    Director: Aloise, Eugene E
    Phone: (202)512-6870

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To allow Congress to better oversee management of the nuclear security enterprise and to improve NNSA's management information with respect to the base capabilities necessary to ensure nuclear weapons are safe, secure, and reliable, the Administrator of NNSA should, once the Stockpile Services work breakdown structure reflects a product or capability basis, use this work breakdown structure to develop product/capability cost estimates that adequately justify the congressional budget request for Stockpile Services.

    Agency: Department of Energy: National Nuclear Security Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: In process: NNSA has significantly improved its work breakdown structure for Stockpile Services. The work breakdown structure now reflects a product or capability basis to a much greater extent than it did previously. NNSA is continuing to work to develop cost estimates for these products and capabilities to adequately justify the congressional budget request for Stockpile Services. In 2014, the Senate Appropriations Committee's Energy and Water Development Subcommittee suggested changes to NNSA's budget structure to align it more closely with products and capabilities beginning with fiscal year 2016 appropriations. GAO will continue to monitor whether NNSA develops cost estimates for Stockpile Services products and capabilities that inform future years' budget requests and justifications.
    Director: Trimble, David
    Phone: (202) 512-3000

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve the management of the stockpile life extension program, the Administrator of NNSA should direct the Deputy Administrator for Defense Programs to develop a realistic schedule for the W76 warhead and future life extension programs that allows NNSA to (1) address technical challenges while meeting all military requirements and (2) build in time for unexpected technical challenges that may delay the program.

    Agency: Department of Energy: National Nuclear Security Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: In past and ongoing work, GAO has identified areas where NNSA's modernization plans may not align with planned funding requests over the Future Years Nuclear Security Plan (FYNSP) and post-FYNSP periods. Based on the FY 2014 Stockpile Stewardship and Management Plan (SSMP), (GAO-14-45) NNSA plans to work on five LEPs or major alterations through 2038. The FY 2014 SSMP states that the LEP workload represents a resource and production throughput challenge that requires improvements in LEP planning and execution. GAO's analysis indicates there is limited contingency time built into the LEP schedules, all of which are technically ambitious. Any delays in schedules could lead to an increase in program costs or a reduction in the number built for any of the LEPs, both of which have occurred in prior and ongoing LEPs. While NNSA has acknowledged issues and identified some steps to improve the LEP process, this recommendation will remain open and unimplemented until NNSA demonstrates successful LEP and refurbishment execution. We recently reconfirmed this finding in GAO-17-341 where we found the following: In some cases, NNSA's fiscal year 2017 nuclear security budget materials do not align with the agency's modernization plans, both within the 5-year Future-Years Nuclear Security Program (FYNSP)for fiscal years 2017 through 2021 and beyond, raising concerns about the affordability of NNSA's planned portfolio of modernization programs.
    Recommendation: To improve the management of the stockpile life extension program, the Administrator of NNSA should direct the Deputy Administrator for Defense Programs to ensure that the program managers responsible for overseeing the construction of new facilities directly related to future life extension programs coordinate with the program managers of such future programs to avoid the types of delays and problems faced with the construction and operation of the Fogbank manufacturing facility for the W76 program.

    Agency: Department of Energy: National Nuclear Security Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: A number of Stockpile Stewardship and Management Plans (SSMP) states that the life extension program (LEP) workload represents a resource and production throughput challenge that requires improvements in LEP planning and execution. The officials elaborated that the main area that will be strained is pit production. The alternate plutonium strategy needs to be resourced fully to support the W78/88-1 LEP. Additionally, the officials said that the UPF transition needs to go as planned or there will be challenges in completing all of the planned LEPs. As such, this recommendation will remain open.
    Recommendation: To improve the management of the stockpile life extension program, the Administrator of NNSA should direct the Deputy Administrator for Defense Programs to ensure that program managers for the construction of new facilities for future life extensions base their schedule for the construction and start-up of a facility on the life extension program managers' needs identified in their risk mitigation strategies.

    Agency: Department of Energy: National Nuclear Security Administration
    Status: Open

    Comments: NNSA has generally improved its management of construction projects, to include requirements setting, Analysis of Alternatives, independent cost estimates, etc. However, it is too soon to tell if these positive developments will help-or hinder-LEPs that are underway or are being conducted. Key uranium activities, to include construction and operating funds will not be complete until 2025; key plutonium activities are underway as well, but will not be complete until the late 2020s. As a result, this recommendation will need to remain open.
    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: National Nuclear Security Administration
    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. Since we received the letter, there have been instances where the DOE/NNSA relationship has become less clear.