Nuclear Test Lobbying:

DOE Regulations for Contractors Need Reevaluation

RCED-88-25BR: Published: Oct 9, 1987. Publicly Released: Oct 9, 1987.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO reviewed allegations that the Department of Energy (DOE) improperly employed contractors to assist in lobbying activities to influence proposed legislation which would restrict the U.S. nuclear weapons testing program.

GAO found that: (1) although DOE extensively briefed congressional members to influence their views on nuclear test issues, it did not violate any applicable statutory provisions; (2) DOE interpreted the cost principle legislation prohibiting reimbursement of contractor lobbying costs to allow for reimbursement of contractors whose activities it had approved; (3) DOE use of national laboratory staff was not in accordance with Office of Management and Budget (OMB) circulars; and (4) DOE continued to request contractor products that it was not using.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOE believes that the cost principle regulation is already effective on all M&O contractors, regardless of whether an advance agreement has been negotiated. However, on November 13, 1987, the Senate approved amendment 1187 to H.R. 2700 that restricts the use of DOE appropriated funds to influence legislation or for any purpose not specifically authorized by Congress.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Energy should eliminate the requirement in DOE regulations for an advance agreement before the cost principle is made applicable to M&O contractors.

    Agency Affected: Department of Energy

  2. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: DOE believes that sufficient regulations already exist, but did agree to issue a memorandum to focus staff attention on the existing regulations.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Energy should draft regulations and any additional guidance necessary to make the use of national laboratory contractor personnel consistent with OMB Circulars A-76 and A-120 and Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) section 17.603(a) regarding the use of contractor employees or to provide the rationale for any exceptions to the circulars and regulations.

    Agency Affected: Department of Energy

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOE eliminated task 2.2.a from the contract and is carrying out the work under other existing contract tasks.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Energy should direct the Assistant Secretary for Defense Programs to: (1) determine whether work under task 2.2a should be continued, considering what other services are available to DOE and the appropriations for the work; and (2) if there is a need for the work and it is appropriate, ensure that all efforts under the task are in accordance with applicable DOE regulations and FAR governing inspection and acceptance of work products; approvals, authorizations, and documentation for payments requested; and supervision of contractor personnel.

    Agency Affected: Department of Energy


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