Priority Open Recommendations: Department of Energy

GAO-20-285PR Published: Apr 22, 2020. Publicly Released: Apr 29, 2020.
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Fast Facts

Each year, we make more than 1,000 recommendations to help improve the federal government. We alert department heads to the recommendations where they can save the most money, address issues on our High Risk List, or significantly improve government operations.

This report outlines our 20 priority open recommendations for Department of Energy as of April 2020.

For example, we recommended DOE better monitor contractors’ audits of subcontracts. This could help DOE identify and recover any unallowable costs.

Since our previous letter in April 2019, DOE implemented 4 of our priority recommendations.

Department of Energy Priority Recommendations graphic

Department of Energy Priority Recommendations graphic

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What GAO Found

In April 2019, GAO identified 18 priority recommendations for the Department of Energy (DOE). Since then, DOE and the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) have implemented four of those recommendations by, among other things, taking actions to improve NNSA's development of programmatic cost estimates and programmatic reviews of cost estimates.

In April 2020, GAO identified eight additional priority recommendations for DOE, bringing the total number to 20. These recommendations involve the following areas:

  • improving project and program management.
  • improving contract management.
  • improving financial and cost information.
  • strengthening planning for the future of the strategic petroleum reserve.
  • addressing nuclear modernization challenges.
  • addressing DOE's environmental liability.
  • cybersecurity.

DOE's continued attention to these issues could lead to significant improvements in government operations.

Why GAO Did This Study

Priority open recommendations are the GAO recommendations that warrant priority attention from heads of key departments or agencies because their implementation could save large amounts of money; improve congressional and/or executive branch decision making on major issues; eliminate mismanagement, fraud, and abuse; or ensure that programs comply with laws and funds are legally spent, among other benefits. Since 2015 GAO has sent letters to selected agencies to highlight the importance of implementing such recommendations.

For more information, contact Mark Gaffigan at (202) 512-3841 or

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