Managing the Environmental Cleanup of DOE's Nuclear Weapons Complex

T-RCED-91-27: Published: Apr 11, 1991. Publicly Released: Apr 11, 1991.

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GAO discussed the Department of Energy's (DOE) cleanup of the nation's nuclear weapons complex. GAO found that: (1) DOE reorganized its headquarters regional activities to ensure better management focus on the cleanup effort; (2) DOE restructured its award-fee program to better ensure that its contractors appropriately emphasized environment, safety, and health issues; (3) there were problems and delays in cleaning up the almost 57 million gallons of high-level radioactive waste in the single- and double-shell tanks at the DOE Hanford facility; (4) DOE failed to provide effective management and oversight of relatively simple cleanup actions; (5) despite some progress in improving budget estimates, DOE did not adequately review contractor cost estimates, and relied on inadequate contractor analyses to substantiate cleanup cost estimates; (6) DOE unilaterally delayed a series of milestones in its agreement with the Environmental Protection Agency and Washington to govern the Hanford cleanup; (7) DOE failed to set priorities that could stabilize its environmental problems and avoid further environmental damage; (8) there were fundamental problems in the DOE control and oversight of all of its contractors, including improper procurement procedures, ineffective contract cost control, and failure to carry out its responsibilities; and (9) DOE acknowledged the need for better contract management by taking steps to improve its management of contractors, but solving the problems will be difficult.

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