The Waste Treatment Plant Project at the Department of Energy's (DOE) Hanford site in southeastern Washington state is a massive effort to stabilize and prepare for disposal 55 million gallons of radioactive and hazardous wastes currently held in underground tanks. In 2000, DOE awarded an 11-year, $4.3 billion contract project to Bechtel National, Inc. (Bechtel) to design and construct the plant. Since then, numerous problems and changes have occurred that will significantly increase the project's final cost and completion date. This testimony discusses (1) how and why the project's cost and schedule have changed since 2000; (2) the status of DOE and Bechtel efforts to address these problems and improve project management; and (3) our observations on issues that need to be addressed in going forward. It is based on previous GAO reports and ongoing work.
Recommendations for Executive Action
|Department of Energy||The Secretary of Energy should discontinue using a fast-track, design-build approach to completing the project and consider the feasibility of completing at least 90 percent of the facility design or facility component design before restarting construction, and ensure that the project's major technical and safety problems have been addressed before restarting construction.|
|Department of Energy||The Secretary of Energy should develop a revised project baseline that fully reflects the remaining uncertainties, including potential problems that may be encountered during the commissioning phase, before presenting it as a reliable estimate of the project's cost and schedule.|
|Department of Energy||The Secretary of Energy should establish improved management controls, including revising contract incentives and strengthening accountability for performing oversight activities.|