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GAO discussed the Department of Energy's (DOE) disposal program for highly radioactive waste, focusing on whether: (1) funding was adequate for DOE to meet its schedule for its site investigation project; and (2) DOE initiatives to streamline the site investigation could affect its technical quality. GAO noted that: (1) DOE has not requested sufficient funding for site investigation because of the competition for funds among all its energy-related programs; (2) if DOE continues its current funding levels, site investigation will take 5 to 13 years longer than originally estimated and costs will increase from $230 million to $600 million; (3) DOE efforts to streamline site investigation and reduce costs could lengthen the investigation project and compromise its technical quality; and (4) DOE wants to establish a revolving fund to provide an appropriate level of funding for its disposal program, but the fund proposal will increase the federal deficit, reduce congressional control of the disposal program, and increase DOE allowable expenditures.

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