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    Subject Term: Plutonium

    7 publications with a total of 22 open recommendations including 2 priority recommendations
    Director: David C. Trimble
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The NNSA Administrator should determine the critical skills and competencies that will be needed for the strategic materials programs and use this determination to develop strategies for addressing challenges, if any, related to the number, deployment, and alignment of program staff (Recommendation 1).

    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 C. Trimble
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    4 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure that DOE has a full understanding of the department's long-term TRU waste disposal requirements and the capability of WIPP to meet those requirements, the Secretary of Energy should develop a schedule for deciding whether the volumes of "potential waste" identified in the annual TRU waste inventory report can be disposed of at WIPP.

    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 ensure that DOE has a full understanding of the department's long-term TRU waste disposal requirements and the capability of WIPP to meet those requirements, the Secretary of Energy should develop guidance that helps sites produce a more comprehensive estimate for the volumes of TRU waste that may be generated in the future from cleanup operations, including estimates of buried waste, waste that may be generated from decontamination and decommissioning of nuclear facilities, and waste that may be generated past WIPP's expected closure date of 2050.

    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 ensure that DOE has a full understanding of the department's long-term TRU waste disposal requirements and the capability of WIPP to meet those requirements, the Secretary of Energy should develop a long-term plan for disposing of DOE's TRU waste that includes the need for excavating additional disposal space at WIPP and an integrated schedule that describes how DOE will complete the regulatory approval process and construction of new space before WIPP's existing space is full.

    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 ensure that DOE has a full understanding of the department's long-term TRU waste disposal requirements and the capability of WIPP to meet those requirements, the Secretary of Energy should develop a long-term plan for disposing of DOE's TRU waste that includes a timeline to help determine whether DOE can change its method of counting waste volumes to meet NNSA's 2020 milestone for resolving potential disposal space constraints at WIPP.

    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: Shelby S. Oakley
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    4 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Energy, working with the Administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration, should include more complete information on the assessments--that is, security plans, vulnerability assessments, independent assessments, and other assessments--used in the annual reports to support the agencies' assessments that DOE and NNSA sites are secure.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken, we will update.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of Energy, working with the Administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration, should better align the internal review process and mandated report publication deadlines.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken, we will update.
    Recommendation: Additionally, the Secretary of Energy should develop a plan for addressing the physical security infrastructure needs at DOE sites. Similar to a report under development by NNSA, this plan could identify cost and time frames and enable DOE and the Congress to prioritize these projects.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken, we will update.
    Recommendation: Additionally, the Secretary of Energy should, in future annual security certification reports, inform Congress of the reasons for the delayed implementation of the June 2011 DOE material control and accountability order at some sites, as well as the steps DOE and its sites are taking to implement it. DOE should also provide Congress with information on any vulnerabilities or deficiencies in the security at sites that may potentially exist while the sites complete implementation of the order as well as information on any concomitant adjustment to their security posture that is required.

    Agency: Department of Energy
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken, we will update.
    Director: 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: 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: 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: 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.