GAO’s reports and testimonies give Congress, federal agencies, and the public timely, fact-based, non-partisan information that can improve government operations and save taxpayers billions of dollars.
This Spotlight examines evolving solar cell technology. Most electricity-generating solar cells are made with crystalline silicon in a process that is complex, expensive, and energy-intensive. Alternative materials may perform better and be easier and cheaper to make.
Research and development has been essential in the Department of Energy's efforts to clean up significant contamination from decades of nuclear weapons production, but over time DOE has reduced funding designated for cleanup R&D.
The National Nuclear Security Administration in the Department of Energy is responsible for the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile. NNSA relies on 7 contractors to manage and operate its 8 lab and production sites.
There are about 86,000 metric tons of spent nuclear fuel from commercial reactors stored at 75 U.S. sites. This amount continues to grow. Policymakers have been at an impasse over what to do with the spent fuel since the licensing of the Yucca Mountain repository stopped in 2010.
The nation's grid delivers electricity that is essential for our modern life.
However, risks such as extreme weather, cyberattacks, and electromagnetic events like solar storms can damage our electrical infrastructure (like power lines) and communications systems.
The Keystone Pipeline has transported over 3 billion barrels of crude oil from Canada to U.S. refineries since 2010. Keystone's accident history is similar to other pipelines, but the severity of its spills has worsened in recent years due to 2 large spills in 2017 and 2019.
The U.S. depends on pipelines to deliver the natural gas, oil, and other hazardous liquids that power vehicles, heat homes, and more. But cyberattacks, such as an attack on Colonial Pipeline's IT networks in May 2021, threaten pipeline security.
Each year, we make more than 1,000 recommendations to help improve the federal government. We alert department heads to where they can save the most money, address issues on our High Risk List, or significantly improve government operations.
Agencies within the Department of the Interior use 3 data systems to oversee oil and gas development on leased federal lands. The data systems process permits for drilling wells, among other things.
The systems are aging and create oversight challenges for the department.
The U.S. hazardous liquid pipeline network runs for over 220,000 miles and is critical to the economy. Pipelines are considered a relatively safe way to transport crude oil and other hazardous liquids, but accidents can happen.