Managing DOE:

The Department of Energy Is Making Efforts to Control Litigation Costs

RCED-95-36: Published: Nov 22, 1994. Publicly Released: Dec 22, 1994.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on the Department of Energy's (DOE) efforts to control its litigation costs, focusing on: (1) the amount DOE spends on litigation to defend its contractors; and (2) whether DOE controls are adequate to ensure that these legal costs are appropriate.

GAO found that: (1) although DOE cannot accurately determine the total amount it reimburses contractors for their outside litigation costs, preliminary findings show that in 1992, DOE spent about $40 million on its contractor litigation costs; (2) most DOE contractor legal costs are incurred through the hiring of outside law firms; (3) DOE does not have effective cost controls for reimbursing outside legal services; (4) DOE has been billed at higher rates than other federal entities for professional legal fees, travel, word processing, document duplication, and other litigation expenses because it has not effectively overseen contractor payments or developed adequate criteria that define which costs are reimbursable; and (5) DOE efforts to improve its cost controls include issuing specific cost guidelines, instituting procedures for periodically reporting all litigation costs, establishing audit functions that enable it to conduct detailed reviews of legal bills, and consolidating cases involving multiple contractors and law firms to improve case management and reduce costs.

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