Why GAO Did This Study
DOE relies primarily on contractors to carry out its diverse missions and operate its laboratories and other facilities, with about 90 percent of its annual budget spent on contracts and capital asset projects. Since 1990, GAO has reported that DOE has suffered from substantial and continual weaknesses in effectively overseeing contractors and managing large, expensive, and technically complex projects. As of February 2013, EM and NNSA remained on GAO's list of areas at high risk of fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement for major contract and project management.
This testimony, which is primarily based on GAO reports issued from March 2009 to December 2012, focuses on (1) prior GAO findings on DOE major projects and the impact of recent DOE steps to address project management weaknesses and (2) preliminary observations from GAO's ongoing work on the reasons behind the planned increase in the performance baseline--a project's cost, schedule, and scope--for two projects being constructed as part of NNSA's Plutonium Disposition Program--the MOX facility and the Waste Solidification Building.
GAO is making no new recommendations. DOE and NNSA continue to act on the numerous recommendations GAO has made to improve management of the nuclear security enterprise. GAO will continue to monitor DOE's and NNSA's implementation of these recommendations.