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Open Recommendations

Electricity Grid Cybersecurity: DOE Needs to Ensure Its Plans Fully Address Risks to Distribution Systems

GAO-21-81
Mar 18, 2021
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1 Open Recommendations
Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Energy The Secretary of Energy, in coordination with DHS, states, and industry, should more fully address risks to the grid's distribution systems from cyberattacks—including the potential impact of such attacks—in DOE's plans to implement the national cybersecurity strategy for the grid. (Recommendation 1)
Open
DOE agreed with our recommendation. In its response to our report, DOE stated that it has been engaged in two congressionally directed projects to better address risks to the grid's distribution systems, and that, in 2020, it issued new awards for the implementation of cybersecurity solutions on distribution systems. These efforts may help states and industry improve the cybersecurity of distribution systems, but to fully address our recommendation, DOE should more fully address risks to the grid's distribution systems from cyberattacks in its plans to implement the national cybersecurity strategy for the grid.

Electricity Grid Resilience: Climate Change Is Expected to Have Far-reaching Effects and DOE and FERC Should Take Actions

GAO-21-346
Mar 10, 2021
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2 Open Recommendations
1 Priority
Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Energy
Priority Rec.
This is a priority recommendation.
The Secretary of Energy should develop and implement a department-wide strategy to coordinate its efforts that defines goals and measures progress to enhance the resilience of the electricity grid to the risks of climate change. (Recommendation 1)
Open
DOE agreed with our recommendation. In its June 2021 management decision letter to Congressional committees, DOE stated that it developed a grid resilience strategy under its Grid Modernization Initiative (GMI)--a collaborative partnership of five DOE offices: Fossil Energy; Nuclear Energy; Electricity; Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy; and Cybersecurity, Energy Security, and Emergency Response. According to DOE, the GMI strategy, developed in December 2020, includes an all-hazards approach to characterize and implement system resilience but it does not prioritize climate change over other threats. Nevertheless, DOE noted that the current strategy will be the framework for the Secretarially-approved departmentwide strategy contemplated in our report. DOE expects to update the strategy by April 2022. To fully address our recommendation, DOE's strategy should define goals and measure progress to enhance the resilience of the electricity grid to the risks of climate change.
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission The Chairman of FERC should direct staff to take steps to identify and assess climate related risks to the electricity grid, and plan a response, including identifying actions to address the risks and enhance the resilience of the grid to climate change. (Recommendation 2)
Open
In its email response, FERC staff stated that they did not have significant concerns with the specific recommendation in the draft report. FERC staff noted, and our report also acknowledged, that the FERC Chairman had recently announced a new proceeding examine the threat that climate change and extreme weather pose to reliability. We believe that the new proceeding FERC announced might pose opportunities to identify and assess risks pose to the grid by climate change. When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.

Electricity Grid: Opportunities Exist for DOE to Better Support Utilities in Improving Resilience to Hurricanes

GAO-21-274
Mar 05, 2021
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2 Open Recommendations
1 Priority
Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Energy
Priority Rec.
This is a priority recommendation.
The Secretary of Energy should establish a plan, including timeframes as appropriate, to guide the agency's efforts to develop tools for resilience planning, such as performance measures for resilience, a framework for resilience planning, and additional information on the cost of long-term power outages. (Recommendation 1)
Open
In June 2021, DOE officials told us that its Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security and Emergency Response (CESER) is establishing a plan of action for energy sector risk management, building on several completed and ongoing elements led by DOE program offices for resilience planning, including tools for resilience planning, frameworks for resilience planning, and information on the long-term costs of power outages. DOE told us it aims to complete this plan by September 30, 2021.
Department of Energy The Secretary of Energy should take steps to better leverage the National Laboratories' emerging grid resilience efforts and technologies by developing a formal mechanism to share this information with utilities. (Recommendation 2)
Open
In June 2021, DOE officials told us that it enhances broader awareness of the resilience project portfolio through stakeholder advisory groups, regular peer reviews, and workshops. Project leads also present activities in industry meetings, as well as broader engagement with trade associations through webinars and speaking opportunities. They added that DOE will continue to investigate ways to expand and formalize successful information sharing approaches with utilities. In order to fully implement this recommendation, DOE needs to develop a formal mechanism for sharing information with utilities.

Uranium Management: Actions to Mitigate Risks to Domestic Supply Chain Could Be Better Planned and Coordinated

GAO-21-28
Dec 10, 2020
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3 Open Recommendations
Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Energy The Secretary of Energy should ensure, particularly as operational details for the uranium reserve are clarified, that any future funding requests for the uranium reserve are based on cost estimates that have been thoroughly reviewed and deemed reasonable. (Recommendation 1)
Open
We will update the status of this recommendation after receiving and reviewing the 180-day letter from the Department of Energy regarding the actions it has taken or intends to take, if any, to address this recommendation.
Office of Cost Estimating and Program Evaluation The Director of NNSA's Office of Cost Estimating and Program Evaluation should, during the office's required review of NNSA's analysis of alternatives (AOA) for a capability to meet NNSA's future unobligated enriched uranium needs, ensure that the AOA was unbiased toward any solution. (Recommendation 2)
Open
We will update the status of this recommendation after receiving and reviewing the 180-day letter from the Department of Energy regarding the actions NNSA's Office of Cost Estimating and Program Evaluation has taken or intends to take, if any, to address this recommendation.
Department of Energy The Secretary of Energy should ensure that the implementation plan under development for Restoring America's Competitive Nuclear Energy Advantage: a Strategy to Assure U.S. National Security fully addresses each of the desirable characteristics GAO has identified for a national strategy. (Recommendation 3)
Open
We will update the status of this recommendation after receiving and reviewing the 180-day letter from the Department of Energy regarding the actions it has taken or intends to take, if any, to address this recommendation.
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