Nuclear Facility Cleanup:

Centralized Contracting of Laboratory Analysis Would Produce Budgetary Savings

RCED-95-118: Published: May 8, 1995. Publicly Released: Jun 7, 1995.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Department of Energy's (DOE) decentralized approach to laboratory analysis, focusing on: (1) the differences in prices and contracting approaches between DOE and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for similar types of laboratory analyses; (2) whether the decentralized DOE approach has resulted in any administrative inefficiencies; and (3) key changes DOE is making in its contracting procedures.

GAO found that: (1) DOE pays substantially higher prices than EPA for the same types of commercial laboratory analyses; (2) while savings could be achieved through centralization, the amount of savings is difficult to measure; (3) unlike DOE, EPA conducts two procurements for organic and inorganic analyses for Superfund sites, while the decentralized DOE approach results in numerous inefficiencies, such as contractors performing redundant quality assurance evaluations at numerous commercial laboratories; and (4) DOE has recently identified 17 initiatives designed to improve many phases of its laboratory analysis program, but it does not plan to change its decentralized approach to laboratory analyses.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOE is consolidating the purchase of laboratory analysis. Since the issuance of the report, DOE states its contract price has fallen by 31 percent.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Energy should centralize the procurement of its commonly used laboratory analyses for environmental contaminants in the cleanup of its nuclear facilities.

    Agency Affected: Department of Energy

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: DOE is consolidating the purchase of its laboratory analysis. Policy has been issued and implementation has started.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Energy should identify and eliminate the contractor resources that will no longer be needed under a central procurement system.

    Agency Affected: Department of Energy


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