Nuclear Science:

Performance of Participants in DOE's Inertial Confinement Fusion Program

RCED-90-113BR: Published: Mar 15, 1990. Publicly Released: Mar 15, 1990.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Department of Energy's (DOE) Inertial Confinement Fusion Program, focusing on the performance of the six participating laboratories for the period of January 1, 1987, through June 30, 1989.

GAO found that: (1) while the program emphasized decentralization and laboratory autonomy, the six participants worked in close cooperation with each other to achieve program objectives; (2) one contractor was not effectively achieving program objectives, primarily because of difficulties in transitioning from a primary research role to a laboratory support role; (3) DOE believes that the contractor's 3-year contract period is sufficient to correct existing problems, and will therefore recompete the contract when it expires in 1990; (4) overall, the other five laboratories met most of their program objectives, but three laboratories cited limited funding and unanticipated technical difficulties as reasons for deferring or not completing certain goals; (5) despite a 1985 National Academy of Sciences recommendation that program funding remain constant with that year's performance levels, inflation has cut the program's budget by about $88 million; and (6) the 1990 budget request for the program was $168.9 million, although congressional committees supported a funding increase to $173.9 million.

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