Nuclear Nonproliferation:

Better Management Controls Needed for Some DOE Projects in Russia and Other Countries

GAO-05-828: Published: Aug 29, 2005. Publicly Released: Aug 29, 2005.

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The National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2004 mandated that we assess the management of threat reduction and nonproliferation programs that the Departments of Defense and Energy each administer. The objective of this report is to assess how the Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) implements management controls, which we define here to be the processes ensuring that work done under a contract meets contract specifications and that payments go to contractors as intended.

Two NNSA offices, the Office of Nuclear Risk Reduction (designated by NNSA as NA-23) and International Material Protection and Cooperation (NA- 25), documented management controls for almost all of their contracts that we reviewed, but the third office, the Office of Nonproliferation and International Security (NA-24), did not document controls for most of their contracts because they could not provide the required documentation. More specifically, for eight of the nine NA-23 and NA-25 contracts we reviewed, the NA-23 headquarters staff and the laboratory staff that manage the contracts for NA-25 provided to us complete records of deliverables and invoices, as well as evidence that technical officials reviewed and approved the deliverables and contract officers reviewed and approved the invoices. (For the ninth contract, NA-25 provided us with incomplete documentation of its controls.) In addition, NA-23 and NA-25 each apply procedural guidance that assists managers in maintaining these controls. However, according to an NNSA official, none of the three offices currently perform periodic reviews to ensure their existing management controls remain appropriate. In contrast, we were unable to determine if NA-24 implements management controls because, for seven of the nine contracts we reviewed, the documentation it provided to us was in most cases either incomplete or it provided no clear audit trail that we could follow. (Documentation was complete for the eighth and ninth contracts.) The types of documents that were missing varied across and within some contracts. In addition, NA-24 does not provide its contract managers with procedural guidance on how to maintain its management controls, nor does it perform a periodic review of its controls to ensure the controls are effective and appropriate.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In August 2005, we reported on problems with internal controls over nonproliferation programs within the Department of Energy's (DOE) National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA). In particular, we found problems with internal controls on contracts we reviewed in NNNSA's NA-24, especially within the Initiatives for Proliferation Prevention (IPP) program, which assists former weapons of mass destruction (WMD) scientists in Russia and other countries by re-employing them in peaceful commercial activities. In our August 2005 report, we recommended that NNSA's program managers maintain quick access to key contract records, such as deliverables and invoices that relate to management controls, regardless of whether the records are located at a national laboratory or headquarters. During the course of our 2007 review of the IPP program, we found that DOE had begun to implement its new Expertise Accountability Tool (EXACT), a project and information management system that it launched in October 2006 to address our August 2005 recommendation. According to DOE officials, EXACT will allow instant sharing of IPP project data between DOE and the participating national laboratories. DOE officials believe that the EXACT system will allow the IPP program office to better monitor and oversee the progress of IPP projects at the national laboratories, including reviews of IPP project participants' WMD backgrounds and tracking unspent funds at the national laboratories. DOE/NNSA wrote to GAO in December 2007 that planned actions to address this recommendation had been completed.

    Recommendation: To ensure that each NNSA office reviewed maintains complete documentation of its management controls, the Secretary of Energy, working with the Administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration, should require each NNSA office to use formal, procedural guidance that clearly states management control processes.

    Agency Affected: Department of Energy

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In August 2005, we reported on problems with internal controls over nonproliferation programs within the Department of Energy's (DOE) National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA). In particular, we found problems with internal controls on contracts we reviewed in NNNSA's NA-24, especially within the Initiatives for Proliferation Prevention (IPP) program, which assists former weapons of mass destruction (WMD) scientists in Russia and other countries by re-employing them in peaceful commercial activities. In our August 2005 report, we recommended that NNSA's program managers maintain quick access to key contract records, such as deliverables and invoices that relate to management controls, regardless of whether the records are located at a national laboratory or headquarters. During the course of our 2007 review of the IPP program, we found that DOE had begun to implement its new Expertise Accountability Tool (EXACT), a project and information management system that it launched in October 2006 to address our August 2005 recommendation. According to DOE officials, EXACT will allow instant sharing of IPP project data between DOE and the participating national laboratories. DOE officials believe that the EXACT system will allow the IPP program office to better monitor and oversee the progress of IPP projects at the national laboratories, including reviews of IPP project participants' WMD backgrounds and tracking unspent funds at the national laboratories. As a result, we believe that DOE has met the objectives of our August 2005 recommendation.

    Recommendation: To ensure that each NNSA office reviewed maintains complete documentation of its management controls, the Secretary of Energy, working with the Administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration, should require NNSA's program managers to maintain quick access to key contract records such as deliverables and invoices that relate to management controls, regardless of whether the records are located at a national laboratory or headquarters.

    Agency Affected: Department of Energy

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In August 2005, we reported on problems with internal controls over nonproliferation programs within the Department of Energy's (DOE) National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA). In particular, we found problems with internal controls on contracts we reviewed in NNNSA's NA-24, especially within the Initiatives for Proliferation Prevention (IPP) program, which assists former weapons of mass destruction (WMD) scientists in Russia and other countries by re-employing them in peaceful commercial activities. In our August 2005 report, we recommended that NNSA's program managers maintain quick access to key contract records, such as deliverables and invoices that relate to management controls, regardless of whether the records are located at a national laboratory or headquarters. During the course of our 2007 review of the IPP program, we found that DOE had begun to implement its new Expertise Accountability Tool (EXACT), a project and information management system that it launched in October 2006 to address our August 2005 recommendation. According to DOE officials, EXACT will allow instant sharing of IPP project data between DOE and the participating national laboratories. DOE officials believe that the EXACT system will allow the IPP program office to better monitor and oversee the progress of IPP projects at the national laboratories, including reviews of IPP project participants' WMD backgrounds and tracking unspent funds at the national laboratories. DOE/NNSA wrote to GAO in December 2007 that planned actions to address this recommendation had been completed.

    Recommendation: To ensure that each NNSA office reviewed maintains complete documentation of its management controls, the Secretary of Energy, working with the Administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration, should require NNSA to perform periodic reviews of its management control processes to be certain that each program office's management controls can be documented and remain appropriate and effective.

    Agency Affected: Department of Energy

 

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