The Department of Energy Should Exercise More Oversight of Maintenance and Repairs of Its Multiprogram Laboratories

PLRD-82-33: Published: Feb 3, 1982. Publicly Released: Feb 3, 1982.

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GAO reviewed the Department of Energy's (DOE) oversight controls to ensure that needed real property maintenance and repair are being accomplished at the multiprogram laboratories and to ensure that Government real property is adequately protected.

GAO found that, although DOE headquarters has assigned responsibility for overseeing the day-to-day management of its laboratories to field or operations offices located near the laboratories, it has provided little guidance on how they should control their maintenance and repair work. In addition, headquarters was not regularly monitoring the performance of the operations offices or obtaining and comparing the costs incurred by contractors among different operations offices. Operations offices generally were not adequately reviewing contractors' proposed budgets for maintenance and repairs or monitoring the condition of all real property. They encouraged, but did not require, contractors to use proven management techniques, such as annual facility inspections, annual and long-range work plans, and backlogs of deferred work, to manage maintenance and repairs. Only one internal audit regarding maintenance and repair has been made by an operations office in recent years. GAO found that some laboratory facilities were in obvious need of repair, but the true condition of others was unknown to DOE management because of inadequate monitoring. According to DOE officials, millions of dollars of laboratory rehabilitation work that is now needed might have been prevented had maintenance and repairs been properly performed in the past. DOE headquarters officials have been drafting an order on facility maintenance management. However, the order had not been issued. GAO believes the issuance of the order would have provided for the needed oversight controls.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Energy should direct the immediate issuance of the order on facility maintenance management and should take steps to ensure that the provisions of the order are carried out.

    Agency Affected: Department of Energy


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