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Highlights

Prior to the 1998 privatization of the U.S. Enrichment Corporation (USEC), the Department of Energy (DOE) transferred about 45,000 metric tons of natural uranium to USEC to, among other things, be enriched to fulfill USEC's nuclear fuel contracts. About 9,550 metric tons were subsequently discovered to be contaminated with technetium, a radioactive metal, at levels exceeding the specification for nuclear fuel. Although DOE has not admitted liability, DOE and USEC have entered into agreements under which USEC is decontaminating the uranium. DOE has compensated USEC for its decontamination costs in several ways, including using proceeds from sales of government-owned clean uranium. GAO was asked to examine (1) USEC's progress in decontaminating uranium and (2) DOE's oversight of USEC's decontamination activities. A forthcoming GAO legal opinion will address DOE's legal authority to transfer clean uranium to USEC for sale and use the proceeds to compensate USEC for its decontamination services.

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Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Energy The Secretary of Energy should clarify with USEC the specific oversight steps that DOE and DCAA conduct.
Closed - Implemented

Recommendation status is Closed - Implemented.

The Department of Energy (DOE) sent a letter to USEC, Inc. on August 6, 2006, that clarified DOE's and the Defense Contract Audit Agency's (DCAA) review process when overseeing the implementation of the uranium decontamination agreement.
Department of Energy The Secretary of Energy should clarify with USEC procedures that USEC should follow in responding to the department's and DCAA's questions on the corporation's performance.
Closed - Implemented

Recommendation status is Closed - Implemented.

The Department of Energy (DOE) sent a letter to USEC, Inc. on August 6, 2006 that detailed the procedures USEC should follow when responding to questions from DOE and the Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA) on the corporation's implementation of the uranium decontamination agreement.
Department of Energy To assist the Congress in its continuing oversight of the department, the Secretary of Energy should report the remaining quantities of uranium in USEC's and DOE's inventories that need to be decontaminated in DOE's annual budget request to the Congress until USEC has completed uranium decontamination.
Closed - Implemented

Recommendation status is Closed - Implemented.

In its annual budget requests from fiscal year 2008 through the conclusion of the uranium decontamination program in fiscal year 2010, DOE reported the remaining quantities of uranium in USEC's and DOE's inventories that remained to be decontaminated.
Department of Energy To assist the Congress in its continuing oversight of the department, the Secretary of Energy should report the estimated costs of completing this decontamination work in DOE's annual budget request to the Congress until USEC has completed uranium decontamination.
Closed - Implemented

Recommendation status is Closed - Implemented.

In its annual budget requests from fiscal year 2008 through the conclusion of the uranium decontamination program in fiscal year 2010, DOE reported the estimated costs of completing the uranium decontamination work.
Department of Energy To assist the Congress in its continuing oversight of the department, the Secretary of Energy should report the progress DCAA has made completing the annual audits of USEC's decontamination costs in DOE's annual budget request to the Congress until USEC has completed uranium decontamination.
Closed - Implemented

Recommendation status is Closed - Implemented.

In its annual budget requests from fiscal year 2008 through the conclusion of the uranium decontamination program in fiscal year 2010, DOE reported the progress DCAA has made completing its annual audits of USEC's decontamination costs.
Department of Energy To assist the Congress in its continuing oversight of the department, the Secretary of Energy should report the source of funds necessary to compensate USEC in DOE's annual budget request to the Congress until USEC has completed uranium decontamination.
Closed - Implemented

Recommendation status is Closed - Implemented.

In its annual budget requests from fiscal year 2008 through the conclusion of the uranium decontamination program in fiscal year 2010, DOE reported the source of funds that were necessary to compensate USEC for its uranium decontamination work.

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