There are many challenges facing the Department of Energy (DOE), including nuclear modernization, environmental cleanup, and improving contract management. More specifically, DOE has underestimated the costs to fix these problems.
According to the report, “GAO found a misalignment between NNSA’s modernization plans and the estimated budgetary resources needed to carry out those plans. Specifically, GAO found that NNSA’s estimates of funding needed for its modernization plans sometimes exceeded the budgetary projections included in the President’s planned near-term and long-term modernization budgets by billions of dollars. GAO also found that the costs of some major modernization programs—such as for nuclear weapon refurbishments—may also increase and further strain future modernization budgets.”
GAO also found that environmental cleanup costs face similar problems. “GAO found that DOE was responsible for over 80 percent ($372 billion) of the U.S. government’s estimated $450 billion environmental liability. However, this estimate does not reflect all of DOE’s cleanup responsibilities. Notably, this estimate does not reflect all of the future cleanup responsibilities that DOE may face. For example, in January 2017, GAO found that the cost estimate for DOE’s proposal for separate defense and commercial nuclear waste repositories excluded the costs and time frames for site selection and site characterization, and therefore full costs are likely to be billions of dollars more than DOE’s reported environmental liabilities.”
Finally, GAO suggests DOE work on its current management of contracts and projects including acquisition planning for major contracts, an area the agency has been deficient in.
Read the full report