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GAO discussed proposed legislation which would establish an independent board to oversee the Department of Energy's (DOE) nuclear facilities. GAO believes that, for any such oversight body to be successful, it must: (1) be independent; (2) possess a high degree of technical expertise; (3) be able to review safety at DOE facilities, as required; (4) possess clear authority to force DOE to comply with its recommendations; and (5) provide public access to its findings and recommendations. GAO also believes that: (1) the proposed Nuclear Safety Board would incorporate all of the requisite elements; (2) Congress could improve the legislation by requiring the board to review DOE contractors' facility safety reports; and (3) the legislation should more clearly define the standards the Board should use in assessing health and safety.

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