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    Subject Term: "Nuclear weapons"

    29 publications with a total of 66 open recommendations including 3 priority recommendations
    Director: Joseph W. Kirschbaum
    Phone: (202) 512-9971

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: CAPE, in coordination with the military departments and other DOD entities serving as offices of primary responsibility for implementing the recommendations, should develop additional guidance for these offices to identify associated risks and document information about these risks in the centralized tracking tool. (Recommendation 1)

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: DOD CIO--in coordination with CAPE, the military departments, Joint Staff, and U.S. Strategic Command--as the draft template and any other additional tools to aid in their approach are finalized, should identify and communicate to NC3 stakeholders performance measures and milestones to assist in tracking the progress of implementation of the recommendations from the 2015 NC3 report and evaluating the outcomes of implementation actions, and risks associated with the implementation of the recommendations from the 2015 NC3 report. (Recommendation 2)

    Agency: Department of Defense
    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: 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

    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

    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 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: Chris Currie
    Phone: (404) 679-1875

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: If DHS's proposed CBRNE program consolidation is approved by Congress, the Secretary of Homeland Security should direct the Assistant Secretary for the Office of Policy to use, where appropriate, the key mergers and organizational transformation practices identified in our previous work to help ensure that a CBRNE consolidated office benefits from lessons learned from other organizational transformations.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security
    Status: Open

    Comments: We found that key mergers and organizational transformation practices identified in previous GAO work could benefit the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) if Congress approves the proposed CBRNE consolidation. As a result, we recommended that should Congress approve DHS's CBRNE consolidation plan, the department use key mergers and organizational transformation practices identified in previous GAO work. In November 2016, DHS stated that while Congress had yet to authorize DHS's CBRNE reorganization proposal, DHS remained committed to evaluating GAO's identified practices when developing an implementation plan. We will update the status of this recommendation as additional information is made available.
    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: 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: Andrew Sherrill
    Phone: (202) 512-7215

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To enhance consistency with DOL policy and procedures in adjudicating EEOICPA Part E claims, the Secretary of Labor should strengthen internal controls by requiring district offices to take steps to ensure that all claimant correspondence for Recommended and Final Decisions receives supervisory review.

    Agency: Department of Labor
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Labor agreed with our recommendation that a second level review will provide a higher degree of internal quality control. However, upon evaluating our recommendation, Labor determined that given its current staffing levels it would not be possible to conduct a supervisory review of all Recommended and Final Decisions without having an adverse impact on the issuance of timely decisions for claimants. Instead, Labor is implementing a process to review a sample of decision letters - initially 10 percent - and make procedural adjustments based on the results of those reviews. We will revisit the status of this recommendation pending the results of Labor's supervisory reviews of selected decision letters.
    Recommendation: To enhance consistency with DOL policy and procedures in adjudicating EEOICPA Part E claims, the Secretary of Labor should strengthen internal controls by requiring district offices to document that the SEM was checked for updates just prior to issuing a Recommended Decision to deny a claim in cases in which the date of the last SEM update has not changed since the claims examiner's prior check.

    Agency: Department of Labor
    Status: Open

    Comments: The Department of Labor agreed with our recommendation pertaining to documenting searches of the Site Exposure Matrix during claims processing. Labor stated that it has implemented the recommendation by updating relevant guidance in the Federal EEOICPA Procedure Manual. We will update the status of this recommendation pending verification that the Procedure Manual was revised to require claims examiners to document that, before denying a claim they checked the Site Exposure Matrix to ensure pertinent information had not changed since the examiner's prior check.
    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: Joe Kirschbaum
    Phone: (202) 512-9971

    4 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 Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: In commenting on this report, DOD and DOE concurred with our recommendation to provide more thorough documentation in the joint report on the methodologies used to develop the budget estimates and ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information included. DOD stated that it added information on the methodologies used to develop the estimates in the April 2015 joint report and would consider including further information in subsequent reports. However, neither department provided information on the specific steps it would take to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information included in future joint reports. We continue to believe that the joint reports should include accurate and complete budget estimates.
    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 Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: In commenting on this report, DOE concurred and DOD partially concurred with our recommendation to provide comparative information on changes in the budget estimates from the prior year and explain the reasons for those changes. DOD noted that Section 1043 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012, which required the joint report, does not require a comparative year-to-year analysis, and recommended that Congress amend the existing language to require that the joint report include an additional subsection providing a quantitative comparison of current budget estimates with the previous year's data. While Section 1043 does not require a comparative year-to-year analysis, the departments are not restricted from including such information and we continue to believe that providing comparative information on changes in the budget estimates from year-to-year and explanations for the changes would be beneficial to congressional decision makers.
    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: 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 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: Cristina Chaplain
    Phone: (202) 512-4841

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: Before making decisions on whether to disaggregate DOD's protected satellite communications, SBIRS, or environmental monitoring satellite systems, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics to develop common measures for resilience.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD has not yet developed common measures for resilience, but has stated standard metrics are under development. Results from a recent study by the National Security Space Enterprise Vision Tiger Team are expected to develop resilience requirements and options for attaining resiliency. DOD plans to use the Space Based Infrared System Follow-on as a test case for describing resilience as a system requirement. The Air Force approved a draft capability development document in February 2017, and a full capability development document is under development. In addition, DOD has identified mission assurance and resiliency as priorities for the next Space Strategic Portfolio Review. GAO's ongoing review of hosted payloads, to be conducted over the next year, will likely review issues related to this area.
    Recommendation: Before making decisions on whether to disaggregate DOD's protected satellite communications, SBIRS, or environmental monitoring satellite systems, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics to expand demonstration efforts to examine the operational feasibility of disaggregation by empirically quantifying its benefits and limitations as well as addressing longstanding barriers that could hinder its implementation.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD has not yet empirically quantified the benefits and limitations of disaggregation, or addressed longstanding barriers that could hinder its implementation, through a demonstration of operational feasibility. However, DOD stated it has considered the disaggregation of certain capabilities in previous war games, and lessons learned will be carried forward into future war games. For example, the most recent war games focused on ways to increase space system resilience by expanding and integrating international and private sector capabilities, and increasing the number of sensors and associated coverage.
    Recommendation: Before making decisions on whether to disaggregate DOD's protected satellite communications, Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS), or environmental monitoring satellite systems, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics to comprehensively examine--either through the Analysis of Alternatives studies or through other assessments--the full range of disaggregation issues, including those that go beyond the satellite systems themselves.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD has made progress toward assessing disaggregation through its analysis of alternatives (AOA) efforts for individual satellite programs within three areas: protected satellite communications services (PSCS), space-based environmental monitoring (SBEM), and the Space Based Infrared System (SBIRS). However, DOD has not yet completed a comprehensive examination of the full range of disaggregation issues. DOD completed the SBEM AOA in October 2013, the SBIRS Follow-on AOA in December 2015, and the PSCS AOA in February 2016. These AOAs each included cost, capability, and risk analyses for aggregated and disaggregated alternatives, though each did not assess the full range of disaggregation issues for the subject area. For example, the SBEM AOA evaluated options including placing sensors on host satellites, placing satellites in different orbits, and relying on international and U.S. civil partners to provide some capabilities, but it focused on the space segment and did not analyze alternative ground segment components. The AOA team determined impacts to the ground segment would need to be assessed more thoroughly once DOD decided on a solution. In October 2016, the Air Force approved an acquisition strategy for the planned solution, called the Weather System Follow-on - Microwave. The program has not yet assessed ground segment impacts, but the Air Force stated it will be assessed further once a contract is awarded. For the PSCS and SBIRS areas, the Air Force conducted subsequent studies on resiliency in 2016, which evaluated the benefits of resiliency in future architectures for satellite communications missions and informed resilience requirements for the SBIRS Follow-on. GAO has ongoing work in these areas and plans to complete reviews of the AOAs in the fall of 2017 and a hosted payload review in the next year.
    Director: John Pendleton
    Phone: (202) 512-3489

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve subsequent joint reports to Congress on plans for sustaining and modernizing U.S nuclear weapons capabilities and to improve the transparency of the joint report's methodologies, thereby assisting Congress in understanding the basis for DOD's NC3 estimates in subsequent joint reports, the Secretary of Defense should direct the DOD Chief Information Officer to document in the report the methodological assumptions and limitations affecting the report's estimates for sustaining and modernizing the NC3 system.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: In its comments on our 2014 report, DOD stated that it concurred with our recommendation, and that it would include all key assumptions and potential limitations utilized in the nuclear command, control, and communications estimates in future joint reports. DOD included more information on the methodologies the Air Force, Navy, and DOD CIO used to develop their 5- and 10-year budget estimates for sustaining and modernizing nuclear delivery systems and nuclear command, control, and communications (NC3) systems in the fiscal year 2016 joint report. However, DOD's methodology for the NC3 estimates was not fully transparent, because it did not document some of the assumptions and potential limitations of the methodology in the report. DOD CIO has continued to use the same methodology for preparing its NC3 estimates each year, but did not document any limitations of that methodology and the potential effect on the estimates. In the joint reports for fiscal years 2016 and 2017, DOD included some methodological information for its NC3 estimates but still did not identify or explain the assumptions or limitations of its methodology. We continue to believe the usefulness and transparency of the joint report could be further improved if DOD implemented this recommendation to document the methodological assumptions and limitations affecting the NC3 estimate.
    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: 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: Pendleton, John H
    Phone: 202) 512-3489

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To assist DOD and DOE in synchronizing plans for modernizing the nuclear weapons enterprise and for assessing the feasibility of the interoperable warhead concept, and to ensure that DOD and NNSA are able to consider the possibilities of potentially designing and developing an interoperable warhead as directed by the Nuclear Weapons Council during the W78/88-1 life-extension program, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Secretary of the Navy to identify the long-term resources needed to implement the W78/88-1 life-extension program once the warhead feasibility study is completed, should the Nuclear Weapons Council approve of an interoperable warhead design.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD concurred with the recommendation. In September 2014, agency officials stated that the Nuclear Weapons Council formally delayed the W78/88-1 Life Extension Program first production unit 5 years to Fiscal Year 2030. As a result, officials stated that the warhead feasibility study has been delayed. The recommendation remains open. As of September 2017, the status of this recommendation has not changed.
    Recommendation: To assist DOD and DOE in synchronizing plans for modernizing the nuclear weapons enterprise and for assessing the feasibility of the interoperable warhead concept, and to ensure that the services are able to support the consideration of interoperable warhead concepts during future life-extension programs, the Secretary of Defense should issue or revise existing guidance to require the services to align their programs and resources before beginning concept or feasibility studies jointly with another service.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD concurred with the recommendation. In December 2015, DOD and DOE published the revised Guideline for the Phase 6.X Process and is in the process of updating the DOD implementing instructions. In August 2016, DOD officials told us that the updated instruction will include a provision to require the services to align their programs and resources before beginning concept or feasibility studies jointly with another service. Officials expect the revised instruction to be finalized and published in mid-2017. As of September 2017, the updated DOD manual (DODM 5030.55) is undergoing final coordination within the department. This recommendation remains open pending the approval and issuance of the revised instruction.
    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

    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: 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: 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

    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.
    Director: Khan, Asif A
    Phone: (202)512-8341

    4 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve internal controls over the development and reporting of environmental liabilities and to prevent recurrence of the types of problems we identified in our report, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller) and the Secretaries of the Army, Navy, and Air Force, as appropriate, to develop, document, and implement a program for financial management review, approval, assessment, and monitoring of the estimation and reporting processes for environmental liabilities.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD concurred with this recommendation. DOD updated its November 20, 2006 Financial Improvement and Audit Readiness Plan to include a key milestone for developing a program to monitor the estimation and reporting process. It also stated that it would establish a workgroup to improve the financial reporting of environmental liabilities and to assist the military departments in meeting key milestones. The estimated completion date is June 30, 2008. The DOD-IG closed this recommendation on November 20, 2006, once the FIAR plan was updated. GAO attempted to obtain documentation evidencing that a program to monitor the estimation and reporting process for environmental liabilities was established by DOD. We have followed up with Office of Undersecretary of Defense (Comptroller) officials to obtain documentation to determine if actions were taken to address this recommendation. As of July 2017, we have not received supporting documentation so this recommendation remains open. We will continue to follow up with Office of Undersecretary of Defense Comptroller officials to obtain documentation and determine if actions were taken to address this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To improve internal controls over the development and reporting of environmental liabilities and to prevent recurrence of the types of problems we identified in our report, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller) and the Secretaries of the Army, Navy, and Air Force, as appropriate, to improve compliance with federal accounting standards and FMR guidance and remedy the specific deficiencies we identified by including all appropriate budget elements for reporting financial liabilities for (1) the Navy's nuclear ships and submarines, (2) the Air Force's cleanup and restoration costs, and (3) all costs intended to be paid for with prior-year budgetary authority (e.g., unsigned contracts) by the Army, Navy, and Air Force.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD concurred with this recommendation and stated that it has instructed the military departments to include a step in their financial improvement plans to comply with this recommendation. It estimated a completion date of June 30, 2008. The DOD-IG closed this recommendation on November 20, 2006, once the FIAR plan was updated. GAO attempted to obtain documentation evidencing that a program to monitor the improved compliance with federal accounting standards and the DOD FMR guidance was established by DOD. We have followed up with Office of Undersecretary of Defense (Comptroller) officials to obtain such documentation to determine if actions were taken to address this recommendation. As of July 2017, we have not received documentation so this recommendation remains open.
    Recommendation: To improve internal controls over the development and reporting of environmental liabilities and to prevent recurrence of the types of problems we identified in our report, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller) and the Secretaries of the Army, Navy, and Air Force, as appropriate, to improve compliance with federal accounting standards and FMR guidance and remedy the specific deficiencies we identified by reconciling the Army's, Navy's, and Air Force's installation-level environmental records to installation-level property records as required and then using the corrected site inventories to determine that all sites with cleanup or corrective action costs and all hazardous waste operations with cleanup or closure costs are included in financial reports of environmental liabilities and all are reported by the appropriate Defense component.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD concurred with this recommendation and stated that it instructed the military departments to include a step in their financial improvement plans to comply with this recommendation. It estimated the completion date of June 30, 2008. The DOD-IG closed this recommendation on November 20, 2006, once the FIAR plan was updated. GAO attempted to obtain documentation evidencing that procedures were established by the military departments to ensure that reconciliations are performed and all cleanup and closure costs are recorded in financial reports of environmental liabilities. We have followed up with Office of Undersecretary of Defense (Comptroller) officials to obtain documentation to determine if actions were taken to address this recommendation. As of July 2017, we have not obtained such documentation so this recommendation remains open.
    Recommendation: To improve internal controls over the development and reporting of environmental liabilities and to prevent recurrence of the types of problems we identified in our report, the Secretary of Defense should direct the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller) and the Secretaries of the Army, Navy, and Air Force, as appropriate, to improve compliance with federal accounting standards and FMR guidance and remedy the specific deficiencies we identified by producing and maintaining adequate supporting documentation for Army, Navy, and Air Force environmental liabilities at all levels in accordance with internal control standards in the federal government.

    Agency: Department of Defense
    Status: Open

    Comments: DOD concurred with this recommendation and stated that it instructed the military departments to include a step in their financial improvement plans to comply with this recommendation. It estimated the completion date of June 30, 2008. The DOD-IG closed this recommendation on November 20, 2006, once the FIAR plan was updated. GAO attempted to obtain documentation evidencing that procedures were established to ensure that the military departments are producing and maintaining adequate supporting documentation for environmental liabilities at all levels in accordance with internal control standards in the Federal Government. We followed up with Office of Undersecretary of Defense (Comptroller) officials to obtain documentation to determine if actions were taken to address this recommendation. As of July 2017, we have not obtained such documentation so this recommendation remains open.