GAO Report: NNSA Needs to Refine Estimation Process

A new report issued by the Government Accountability Office finds the National Nuclear Security Administration’s review of budget estimates and decisions needs strengthening.

Capitol_FlagBelow are highlights of GAO-12-806, a report to the Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, Committee on Appropriations, U.S. Senate.

Why GAO Did This Study
NNSA, a semiautonomous agency within DOE, is responsible for the nation’s nuclear weapons, nonproliferation, and naval reactors programs. Since its inception in 2000, the agency has faced challenges in its ability to accurately identify the costs of major projects. In addition, both the DOE Inspector General, in 2003, and GAO, in 2007, reported concerns with NNSA’s PPBE process, specifically in how NNSA validates budget estimates and decides on resource allocations or trade-offs.

GAO was asked to review how NNSA manages programming and budgeting through its PPBE process. GAO examined (1) the current structure of NNSA’s PPBE process, (2) the extent to which NNSA reviews its budget estimates, and (3) how NNSA decides on resource trade-offs in its PPBE process. To carry out its work, GAO reviewed NNSA policies, instructions, guidance, and internal reports documenting the agency’s PPBE process and interviewed NNSA, DOE, and M&O contractor officials.

What GAO Recommends
GAO recommends that, among other things, DOE update the departmental order for budget reviews, improve the formal process for reviewing budget estimates, and reinstitute an independent analytical capability. The agency agreed in principle with six recommendations but not with one to consolidate various integrated priority lists. GAO continues to believe this recommendation has merit as discussed in the report.

Click here to read the complete report.

Source: U.S. Government Accountability Office
Image: U.S. Government Accountability Office