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    Subject Term: "Nuclear security"

    18 publications with a total of 37 open recommendations including 5 priority 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: Joe Kirschbaum
    Phone: (202) 512-9971

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: As DOD continues to improve the completeness and transparency of subsequent joint reports' methodologies in order to assist Congress in understanding the basis of the NC3 estimates by documenting the methodological assumptions and limitations affecting the report's estimates for sustaining and modernizing the NC3 system, as we previously recommended, for future joint reports, the DOD CIO should include explanations of how DOD (1) selects program elements for inclusion in its NC3 estimate, (2) determines its weighted analysis ratios, and (3) differentiates its methodology for calculating operation and maintenance estimates from its methodologies for calculating estimates for the other NC3 line items.

    Agency: Department of Defense: Office of the Chief Information Officer
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD concurred with the recommendation, stating that it has incorporated it into the fiscal year 2018 joint report. DOD also said that subsequent joint reports will provide updated methodological inputs, assumptions and limitations affecting NC3 estimates. Once DOD releases the fiscal year 2018 joint report, we will determine the extent to which it addresses the recommendation.
    Recommendation: In order to assist Congress in comparing year-to-year cost estimates between joint reports, for future joint reports, the Secretary of the Air Force should provide information about any programmatic changes (i.e., programs being moved from one line item to another) in its estimates and include an explanation of the reasons for those changes and how those changes may affect year-to-year comparisons of the budget estimates.

    Agency: Department of Defense: Department of the Air Force
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD concurred with this recommendation, stating that it has been incorporated into the fiscal year 2018 joint report. DOD further stated that subsequent joint reports will continue to provide the recommended information but also will be revised as necessary to ensure a complete and transparent statement on programmatic changes and their possible effect on year-to-year comparisons of budget estimates. Once DOD releases the fiscal year 2018 joint report, we will determine the extent to which it addresses the recommendation.
    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

    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: 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 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: 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 C. Trimble
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    3 open recommendations
    including 2 priority recommendations
    Recommendation: Because some quantities of radioactive materials are potentially dangerous to human health if not properly handled, NRC should take action to better track and secure these materials and verify the legitimacy of the licenses for those who seek to possess them. Specifically, the NRC should take the steps needed to include category 3 sources in the National Source Tracking System and add agreement state category 3 licenses to the Web-based Licensing System as quickly as reasonably possible.

    Agency: Nuclear Regulatory Commission
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: In October 2016, NRC issued a Staff Requirements Memorandum (SRM) "Proposed Staff Re-Evaluation of Category 3 Source Accountability," (SRM-COMJMB-16-0001) and directed NRC staff to take specific actions to evaluate whether it is necessary to revise NRC regulations or processes governing source protection and accountability for Category 3 sources. Among other things, this re-evaluation will consider GAO's recommendations. This re-evaluation is due to be submitted to the Commission by August 2017.
    Recommendation: Because some quantities of radioactive materials are potentially dangerous to human health if not properly handled, NRC should take action to better track and secure these materials and verify the legitimacy of the licenses for those who seek to possess them. Specifically, the NRC should at least until such time that category 3 licenses can be verified using the License Verification System, require that transferors of category 3 quantities of radioactive materials confirm the validity of a would-be purchaser's radioactive materials license with the appropriate regulatory authority before transferring any category 3 quantities of licensed materials.

    Agency: Nuclear Regulatory Commission
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: In October 2016, NRC issued a Staff Requirements Memorandum (SRM) "Proposed Staff Re-Evaluation of Category 3 Source Accountability," (SRM-COMJMB-16-0001) and directed NRC staff to take specific actions to evaluate whether it is necessary to revise NRC regulations or processes governing source protection and accountability for Category 3 sources. Among other things, this re-evaluation will consider GAO's recommendations. This re-evaluation is due to be submitted to the Commission by August 2017. The License Verification and Transfer of Category 3 Sources Working Group (LVWG) evaluated this recommendation, and its analysis will be considered by the Category 3 Source Security and Accountability Working Group in the development of the notation vote paper that will be submitted to the Commission in August 2017.
    Recommendation: Because some quantities of radioactive materials are potentially dangerous to human health if not properly handled, NRC should take action to better track and secure these materials and verify the legitimacy of the licenses for those who seek to possess them. Specifically, the NRC should, as part of the ongoing efforts of NRC working groups meeting to develop enhancements to the prelicensing requirements for category 3 licenses, consider requiring that an on-site security review be conducted for all unknown applicants of category 3 licenses to verify that each applicant is prepared to implement the required security measures before taking possession of licensed radioactive materials.

    Agency: Nuclear Regulatory Commission
    Status: Open

    Comments: In October 2016, NRC issued a Staff Requirements Memorandum (SRM) "Proposed Staff Re-Evaluation of Category 3 Source Accountability," (SRM-COMJMB-16-0001) and directed NRC staff to take specific actions to evaluate whether it is necessary to revise NRC regulations or processes governing source protection and accountability for Category 3 sources. Among other things, this re-evaluation will consider GAO's recommendations. This re-evaluation is due to be submitted to the Commission by August 2017.
    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: Joseph Kirschbaum
    Phone: (202) 512-9971

    4 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 Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: In commenting on this report, DOD agreed with our recommendation to update the 1997 memorandum of agreement and proposed that, once this action was completed, the Council Chairman would issue a letter to the Council members documenting the roles and responsibilities, structure, and functions of the Council's 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, 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 Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: In commenting on this report, DOD generally agreed with this recommendation and stated that the letter from the Council Chairman that would be developed to address our first recommendation would require that budget and program evaluation officials from both DOD and NNSA consistently and routinely attend meetings of the Council and its support committees. 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.
    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

    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: 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 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: 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: 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: 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.