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    Subject Term: "Nuclear facility security"

    7 publications with a total of 15 open recommendations
    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: 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

    4 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 clarify in guidance the conditions under which facilities may carry negative obligation balances.

    Agency: Nuclear Regulatory Commission
    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.
    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: Nuclear Regulatory Commission
    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.
    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

    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: 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: Aloise, Eugene E
    Phone: (202)512-6870

    2 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.
    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.