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    Subject Term: "Weapons research and development"

    6 publications with a total of 12 open recommendations
    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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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.