Questions Regarding Clinch River Breeder Reactor Project Funding and Costs

EMD-82-123: Published: Sep 15, 1982. Publicly Released: Sep 15, 1982.

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GAO was requested to respond to two specific issues concerning the Clinch River Breeder Reactor (CRBR) demonstration project: (1) whether carryover funds would be available for site preparation and related activities if no funds are appropriated under the continuing resolution; and (2) to determine the most recent CRBR cost estimates prepared by the Department of Energy (DOE).

According to CRBR officials, DOE funding for the project is no-year funding; that is, the funds are available until they are expended on the CRBR, and there is no requirement that they be expended in any particular fiscal year (FY). No effort is made to account for the funding on a FY basis. The unobligated funds remaining at the end of each FY historically have been returned to the project office and combined with the next FY appropriation. Thus, carryover funds and the current appropriation become new budget authority available for the CRBR. The most recent official cost estimate for the CRBR is about $3.2 billion which was the estimate that DOE released to Congress in December 1980. As of April 1982, the estimate was increased to about $3.5 billion. This estimate was based upon the following assumptions: (1) start of site preparation in August 1982; (2) full funding of $383.4 million in FY 1983; (3) no delays in completing the project; and (4) project operations will begin in January 1989.

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