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Highlights

In February 2002, following years of rising costs to its nuclear waste cleanup program, the Department of Energy (DOE) announced a new initiative--the accelerated cleanup plan--and committed to reduce costs of cleanup by $50 billion, shorten the cleanup schedule by 35 years, and reduce risks to human health and the environment. GAO reviewed (1) the progress DOE has made under its accelerated cleanup plan, (2) the likelihood DOE will achieve its estimated $50 billion in cost reductions, and (3) whether DOE's performance reporting allows for a full understanding of progress toward achieving the accelerated plan goals.

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Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Energy 1. To help DOE and the Congress monitor progress toward meeting DOE's accelerated cleanup plan cost and schedule goals, the Secretary of Energy should improve DOE's performance reporting so that there is a clearer, discernable relationship at the activity level between cleanup accomplishments and the costs incurred in doing the work.
Closed - Implemented
DOE's 60-day letter to Congress (Feb. 06) noted that beginning in March 2006 DOE will provide a new semiannual Report to Congress to track progress on accelerated cleanup milestones, including annual budget estimates and life-cycle costs. The first report was submitted to Congress in June 2006, with a followup in October 2006. This report, titled "Report to Congress: Milestone Report: Complex-Wide and Site-Specific Progress Toward Accelerated Cleanup Milestones" provides a status, by each site and by each of 16 performance measures, of the progress DOE has made in meeting milestones. The report uses a stoplight method (red-yellow-green) to provide the reader an indication of actual performance against planned performance. The DOE contact noted that the next report to Congress is due March 2007.
Department of Energy 2. To help DOE and the Congress monitor progress toward meeting DOE's accelerated cleanup plan cost and schedule goals, the Secretary of Energy should identify in DOE's performance reporting to the Congress and others those performance measures that are the most critical to achieving cost and schedule goals, and summarize the progress on these measures and the potential impact of any problems that could affect achieving accelerated cleanup plan goals.
Closed - Implemented
DOE's 60-day letter to Congress (Feb. 06) noted that beginning in March 2006 DOE will provide a new semiannual Report to Congress to track progress on accelerated cleanup milestones, including annual budget estimates and life-cycle costs. The first report was submitted to Congress in June 2006, with a followup in October 2006. This report, titled "Report to Congress: Milestone Report: Complex-Wide and Site-Specific Progress Toward Accelerated Cleanup Milestones" provides a status, by each site and by each of 16 performance measures, of the progress DOE has made in meeting milestones. The report uses a stoplight method (red-yellow-green) to provide the reader an indication of actual performance against planned performance. The DOE contact noted that the next report to Congress is due March 2007.

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