Department of Energy: Consistent Application of Requirements Needed to Improve Project Management

GAO-07-518 Published: May 11, 2007. Publicly Released: May 11, 2007.
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Since 1990, Department of Energy (DOE) contract management (which includes project management) has been designated as a high-risk area for fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement. For years, GAO has reported on DOE's inadequate management and oversight of its contracts and projects. GAO has made dozens of recommendations on steps that DOE could take to improve project management. Furthermore, in 1999 The National Academies' National Research Council developed a series of recommendations to address weaknesses in DOE's project management. This GAO report discusses (1) DOE's main efforts since 1999 to address project management weaknesses, (2) the extent to which DOE's project performance has improved, and (3) the extent to which DOE's project management guidelines have been consistently followed.

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Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Energy To help strengthen management of DOE's projects and enhance accountability for completing projects on time and within budget in all of DOE's component organizations, the Secretary of Energy should ensure that project management requirements are consistently and rigorously followed by all of the department's component organizations, and that any exceptions to following the requirements are allowed only after senior management has ensured that the exceptions are appropriate and has approved them.
Closed – Implemented
Based in part on GAO's work and recommendation, in 2008 DOE issued a root cause analysis and a corrective action plan to address the contract and project management weaknesses identified. The report included two corrective action measures that directly addressed our recommendation: (1) Corrective Measure No. 7 focuses on improving management and oversight of projects; clarifying federal project management roles, responsibilities and authorities; and strengthening existing external independent reviews and internal project reviews to ensure project and contract oversight compliance; and (2) Corrective Measure No. 8 focuses on reviewing various project management policies and guidance for consistency and ensuring standard definition for terms. In addition, in November 2010, DOE issued its revised Program and Project Management Policy (Order 413.3b).

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