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    Subject Term: "Nuclear waste"

    2 publications with a total of 5 open recommendations including 1 priority 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: 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.