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    Subject Term: "Radioactive materials"

    5 publications with a total of 10 open recommendations including 4 priority recommendations
    Director: Shelby S. Oakley
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve the awareness of how risk-significant radioactive sources are transported within the United States and to better determine whether Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is meeting its goal of providing reasonable assurance for preventing the theft or diversion of these dangerous materials, the Chairman of NRC should take actions to collect information from licensees on the number of shipments and mode of transport for such sources--for example, by identifying the extent to which an existing NRC database (e.g., the National Source Tracking System) may be used to capture this information.

    Agency: Nuclear Regulatory Commission
    Status: Open

    Comments: In its 60-day response letter from NRC to GAO, NRC repeated its position on this recommendation as stated in its formal agency response that was included as appendix III in the report. In both cases, NRC states that it disagrees with this recommendation. NRC disagrees that the specific number of shipments by mode of transport is always needed. NRC explained that existing information collection requirements already exist for category 1 quantities and that it had previously determined that collection of shipment information for category 2 quantities was not necessary. NRC also stated that NSTS would not be the appropriate database to capture shipment information; it is not designed to capture real-time information. In addition, NRC does not consider the proposed collection activity to be of sufficient benefit to justify the additional cost of capturing the information. Therefore, NRC does not believe that adopting this recommendation would result in significant improvements to safety. Despite its disagreement with this recommendation, we will continue to monitor whether NRC takes any actions that would result in addressing the concern GAO raised.
    Recommendation: To further enhance the security of radioactive sources during ground transport, the Chairman of NRC, in consultation with the Secretary of Transportation and the Secretary of Homeland Security, should identify an approach to verify that motor carriers are meeting NRC's Part 37 security requirements applicable to transportation, for example by having DOT inspectors verify compliance with NRC Part 37 security requirements during their on-site investigations.

    Agency: Nuclear Regulatory Commission
    Status: Open

    Comments: As noted in the NRC comments on the GAO report, the NRC agrees in general with the second recommendation to explore with Federal partners an approach to verify that motor carriers meet 10 CFR Part 37 transportation security requirements. The NRC commits to exploring how the respective agencies can verify that motor carriers are meeting the NRC's applicable Part 37 transportation security requirements. This recommendation will remain open until NRC presents evidence that it has acted on it.
    Recommendation: To further enhance the security of radioactive sources during ground transport, the Secretary of Transportation, in consultation with the Chairman of NRC and the Secretary of Homeland Security, should consider examining the potential costs and security benefits associated with lowering the Highway Route Controlled Quantity (HRCQ) threshold so that more, or all, category 1 shipments are classified as HRCQ shipments.

    Agency: Department of Transportation
    Status: Open

    Comments: In its 60-day response letter, NRC stated that it recognizes that HRCQ thresholds fall under the jurisdiction of DOT. The NRC commits to exploring with DOT the potential costs and security benefits associated with lowering the HRCQ threshold so that more if not all , of the shipments of Category 1 quantities of radioactive material may be classified as HRCQ shipments. In its 60-day response letter, DOT concurred with this recommendation and stated that it planned to consult with NRC and the Department of Homeland Security Domestic Nuclear Detection Office, and its internal stakeholders to evaluate potential costs and security benefits of lowering the HRCQ threshold, which they expect to complete by January 15, 2018. This recommendation will remain open until evidence is presented by NRC and DOT that they have examined the costs and benefits of lowering the HRCQ threshold.
    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 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: Frank Rusco
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: To improve the reliability of its cost estimates, as NRC revises its cost estimating procedures, the NRC Chairman should ensure that the agency aligns the procedures with relevant cost estimating best practices identified in the GAO Cost Estimating and Assessment Guide and ensure that future cost estimates are prepared in accordance with relevant cost estimating best practices.

    Agency: Nuclear Regulatory Commission
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: In February 2017, the NRC staff released draft updated cost-benefit guidance, with a public comment period beginning in March 2017. In January 2018, NRC staff plan to provide a draft of the final guidance to the Commission. The final updated cost-benefit guidance is expected to be issued for use in March 2018.
    Director: David C. Trimble
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: To ensure that the security of radiological sources at industrial facilities is reasonably assured, the Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission should conduct an assessment of the T&R process--by which licensees approve employees for unescorted access--to determine if it provides reasonable assurance against insider threats, including (1) determining why criminal history information concerning convictions for terroristic threats was not provided to a licensee during the T&R process to establish if this represents an isolated case or a systemic weakness in the T&R process; and (2) revising, to the extent permitted by law, the T&R process to provide specific guidance to licensees on how to review a employee's background. NRC should also consider whether certain criminal convictions or other indicators should disqualify an employee from T&R or trigger a greater role for NRC.

    Agency: Nuclear Regulatory Commission
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: On December 14, 2016, the NRC provided Congress with a report detailing its review of the effectiveness of the requirements in 10 CFR Part 37 to determine whether any additional security measures, guidance updates, rulemaking changes, or licensee outreach efforts are appropriate. The completion of the 10 CFR Part 37 program review included insights into the effectiveness of the T&R process. Specifically, the review generated recommendations for enhancements in the area of T&R, including, among other things, increased controls for protection of information related to individuals having access to Category 1 and 2 quantities of radioactive materials; improved guidance related to information individuals must disclose when applying for unescorted access; development of sample forms or templates for use in T&R evaluations; and improved coordination efforts with the FBI to share potential terrorist threat information involving individuals seeking approval for new or continued unescorted access to Category 1 and 2 quantities of radioactive materials. However, certain aspects of the NRC staff's assessment of the T&R process remain ongoing. Specifically, on November 25, 2016, the staff closed Temporary Instruction (TI) 2800/042, "Evaluation of Trustworthiness and Reliability Determinations," and is using the information gained from the TI to consider additional enhancements to the T&R process. As part of this continuing effort, the NRC will evaluate the potential use of disqualifying criteria in making T&R determinations and the incorporation of additional insider mitigation program features, such as requiring the self-reporting of legal actions, into the T&R process to which the individual has been subject. The NRC expects this evaluation to be completed in December 2017.