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Highlights

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided information on Soviet-designed nuclear power reactors, focusing on: (1) how much money has been spent by the United States and other countries for assistance to improve the safety of Soviet-designed nuclear power reactors--and the types of assistance being provided--as well as planned U.S. expenditures; (2) experts' views on the impact of the assistance; (3) the status of efforts to close high-risk Soviet-designed reactors; and (4) the management of the Department of Energy's (DOE) and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's (NRC) safety assistance activities.

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Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Energy To maximize the use of U.S. safety assistance program funds, the Secretary of Energy should: (1) review all DOE projects with significant carryover balances and consider ways to accelerate the projects' completion, to the extent feasible; and (2) determine whether projects whose progress has been continuously slow or limited are still viable, given the program's current goals and objectives.
Closed - Implemented
DOE has reviewed all of its safety projects and either sped the completion of or eliminated those with large dollar carryover balances. For those projects closed funds have been transferred to ongoing projects.
Nuclear Regulatory Commission To maximize the use of U.S. safety assistance program funds, the Chairman, NRC, should consistently monitor the funding for NRC's safety assistance program to ensure that these funds are obligated on a timely basis in accordance with the program's priorities.
Closed - Implemented
NRC agreed and has implemented the recommendation.
Department of Energy To improve the management of the nuclear safety assistance program, the Secretary of Energy should review ongoing and proposed projects and eliminate those that do not have a strong and compelling link to improving the safety of Soviet-designed nuclear power plants.
Closed - Implemented
DOE has reviewed all of its projects to ensure that they are defensible as being related to improving safety.
Nuclear Regulatory Commission To improve NRC's program management, the Chairman, NRC, should develop a strategic plan for the Commission's nuclear safety assistance activities that, at a minimum, establishes program priorities and goals, ways to measure how well the goals are being met, and timeframes for meeting the goals.
Closed - Implemented
NRC agreed and has implemented the recommendation.
Nuclear Regulatory Commission To improve NRC's program management, the Chairman, NRC, should integrate the assistance activities of offices that implement nuclear safety assistance to avoid duplication and inefficiencies.
Closed - Implemented
NRC agreed and has implemented the recommendation.
Nuclear Regulatory Commission To improve NRC's program management, the Chairman, NRC, should consistently monitor funding requirements to ensure that funds are obligated on a timely basis in accordance with the program's priorities.
Closed - Implemented
NRC has agreed with and implemented the recommendation.
Department of Energy To help ensure that DOE's and NRC's nuclear safety assistance efforts are economical and efficient, the Secretary of Energy should ensure to the extent possible that, when cash is paid for services or deliverables, organizations in the Newly Independent States have internal controls to adequately document the flow of cash from its receipt to its final disposition.
Closed - Implemented
DOE has strengthened its controls and procedures regarding cash payments. Western style accounting systems are being implemented with the cooperation of host country organizations.
Department of Energy To help ensure that DOE's and NRC's nuclear safety assistance efforts are economical and efficient, the Secretary of Energy should clarify the lease arrangements between the Slavutych Laboratory and the Chernobyl nuclear power plant to ensure that the U.S. investment in the laboratory is protected to the extent possible.
Closed - Implemented
The lease agreement has been exgended through 2004 and an application to transfer ownership of the building and equipment to the Slavutych Laboratory has been submitted to the Ukranian Government for approval.
Nuclear Regulatory Commission To help ensure that DOE's and NRC's nuclear safety assistance efforts are economical and efficient, the Chairman, NRC, should hire in-country interpreters when feasible to do so.
Closed - Implemented
NRC has agreed and implemented the recommendation.

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