Key Issues > Department of Energy's Contract Management for the National Nuclear Security Administration and Office of Environmental Management - High Risk Issue
energy icon, source: Art Explosion

Department of Energy's Contract Management for the National Nuclear Security Administration and Office of Environmental Management - High Risk Issue

With 90 percent of the Department of Energy’s budget spent on contracts and large capital asset projects adequate management and oversight of contracts is imperative. 

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As stated in GAO's 2015 High Risk report, the Department of Energy (DOE), the largest civilian contracting agency in the federal government, relies primarily on contractors to carry out its diverse missions and operate its laboratories and other facilities. Approximately 90 percent of DOE’s budget is spent on contracts and large capital asset projects. GAO designated DOE's contract management—which includes both contract administration and project management—as a high-risk area in 1990 because DOE’s record of inadequate management and oversight of contractors has left the department vulnerable to fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement. In January 2009, to recognize progress made by DOE’s Office of Science, the focus of the high-risk designation was narrowed to two DOE program elements—the Office of Environmental Management (EM) and the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA). Together, these two programs accounted for almost 63 percent of DOE's fiscal year 2015 discretionary funding of more than $26 billion. In February 2013,  the focus of the high-risk designation was further narrowed to EM and NNSA's major contracts and projects, those with an estimated cost of $750 million or more, to acknowledge progress made in managing projects with an estimated cost of less than $750 million. GAO's 2013 assessment found that DOE satisfied 3 of the 5 criteria needed for removal from the High Risk List. In 2015, similar progress was not observed in DOE's management of major projects. EM and NNSA continue to struggle to stay within cost and schedule estimates for most of their major projects.

This High Risk Report is updated every two years, at the start of each new Congress. For more information on this High Risk Issue, see What We Found and What Remains to Be Done.

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Improper Payments: DOE's Risk Assessments Should Be Strengthened
http://gao.gov/products/GAO-15-36

GAO-15-36: Published: Dec 23, 2014. Publicly Released: Dec 23, 2014.

Podcasts

2015 Update to GAO's High Risk ListWednesday, February 11, 2015
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    • David Trimble
    • Director, Natural Resources and Environment
    • trimbled@gao.gov
    • 202-512-3841