Nuclear Weapons Complex:

Weaknesses in DOE's Nonnuclear Consolidation Plan

RCED-93-56: Published: Nov 19, 1992. Publicly Released: Nov 19, 1992.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Department of Energy's (DOE) plans for consolidating nonnuclear weapons production facilities, focusing on the DOE Nonnuclear Consolidation Plan's (NCP) scope, cost analysis, and technical risk assessment.

GAO found that: (1) the selection of a single site as the preferred consolidation option was flawed because DOE did not fully consider other nonnuclear options including downsizing and modernizing existing facilities, or maximizing consolidation by eliminating all nonnuclear sites and relocating their functions to another nuclear site or a national laboratory; (2) NCP assessed capital and operating costs and the additional costs of privatizing selected technologies; (3) the DOE cost estimate for the single site consolidation option totalled $352 million; (4) the NCP single site option did not include $47 million in personnel termination costs, facility decontamination and decommissioning costs, or the costs to transfer work to other facilities; (5) the single site option provided the least technical risk because the fewest manufactured and procured parts and employees would be transferred; (6) NCP failed to address such technical risks as how an accelerated consolidation schedule would impact production of limited life components; and (7) further examination of options, costs, and the overall size of the nonnuclear complex is needed.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: The Department of Energy has completed three additional studies that further analyze the consolidation of nonnuclear activities. In addition, three independent consultants have all concluded that the DOE analysis and current plans will be cost-effective and not increase technological, environmental, safety, or health risks. Finally, DOE has reached agreement with the Department of Defense on sizing criteria for reconfiguration of the nuclear weapons complex.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Energy should direct that ongoing efforts to analyze the consolidation on nonnuclear activities include further study of all reasonable consolidation options and additional analysis of the technical risks associated with nonnuclear consolidation. Furthermore, the Secretary of Energy should work with the Nuclear Weapons Council to establish specific sizing requirements for the complex so that it can be included in DOE's ongoing analysis.

    Agency Affected: Department of Energy


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