Department of Energy:

Challenges Exist in Managing the Spallation Neutron Source Project

T-RCED-99-103: Published: Mar 3, 1999. Publicly Released: Mar 3, 1999.

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Victor S. Rezendes
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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO discussed the Department of Energy's (DOE) management of the Spallation Neutron Source Project, focusing on the: (1) project's cost and schedule; and (2) effectiveness of the collaborating laboratories' coordination.

GAO noted that: (1) the project is not currently in trouble, but warning signs in three key areas raise concerns about whether it will be completed on time and within budget; (2) DOE has not assembled a complete team with the technical skills and experience needed to properly manage the project; (3) a permanent project director was just hired last week, 5 months after Congress approved the start of construction and over a year after the project's design was approved; (4) other important positions remain unfilled, including those of a technical director and an operations manager; (5) cost and schedule estimates for the project have not been fully developed; (6) furthermore, the project's contingency allowances for unforeseen costs and delays are too low for a project of this size and scope, according to project managers and DOE; (7) DOE's approach to managing the project requires an unprecedented level of collaboration among five different laboratories, managed through DOE's complex organizational structure; and (8) coupled with DOE's history of not successfully completing large projects on time and within budget, these warning signs make the Spallation Neutron Source project a significant management challenge for DOE and suggest a need for continued close oversight.

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