DOE OIG: Allegations Regarding the Sandia National Laboratories Mixed Waste Landfill
The Department of Energy (Department) Sandia National Laboratories (SNL) is a Government- owned, contractor-operated laboratory that is part of the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) nuclear weapons complex. As part of its mission, SNL operated a 2.6-acre mixed waste landfill (MWL) at its Albuquerque, New Mexico, location on Kirtland Air Force Base and disposed of classified and unclassified waste in the unlined MWL from 1959 through 1988. In 2005, the NMED ordered SNL and the Department to leave the waste in place, cover the MWL, and periodically monitor the MWL site, including the surrounding groundwater, to ensure that the MWL was not contaminating the local aquifer.
Since December 2014, the Office of Inspector General has received multiple allegations and information regarding human health and environmental protection issues due to the waste stored in the MWL. For example, it was alleged that the inventory of the MWL was not complete and that contaminants from the MWL had reached the Albuquerque, New Mexico, aquifer.
Our review substantiated only one of six allegations regarding the SNL MWL. Specifically, we substantiated that since the MWL’s inception in 1959, SNL and the Department had not maintained a complete inventory of the types and amounts of waste disposed of in the MWL. Report.
GAO: Nuclear Weapons Sustainment: Improvements Made to Budget Estimates Report, but Opportunities Remain to Further Enhance Transparency
The fiscal year 2016 joint report, submitted to Congress by the Department of Defense (DOD) and the Department of Energy (DOE) in April 2015, includes 10-year budget estimates for sustaining and modernizing U.S. nuclear weapons. These estimates are generally consistent with the departments' internal funding and modernization plans—with some exceptions. GAO could not fully verify that DOD's command and control estimates were consistent with its internal funding plans, because DOD did not document the methodological assumptions and limitations associated with these estimates, as GAO had recommended in June 2014. Report.
DOE OIG: Allegations Regarding Management of Highly Enriched Uranium
The Department of Energy's (Department) Y-12 National Security Complex (Y-12) has processed highly enriched uranium (HEU), a special nuclear material (SNM), for more than 60 years. Y-12 is required to maintain inventories of nuclear material in Categories I – IV based on the material's attractiveness level and weight with Category I material as the highest rating. Further, Department Order 474.2A, Nuclear Material Control and Accountability, requires nuclear material programs to detect, assess and deter unauthorized access to any category of nuclear material.
OIG was informed that, HEU samples were discovered in the pocket of coveralls located on a laundry truck that annunciated an alarm as the truck tried to exit Y-12's Protected Area. OIG substantiated the allegations. Report.
GAO: NUCLEAR WEAPONS: Ten-Year Budget Estimates for Modernization Omit Key Efforts, and Assumptions and Limitations Are Not Fully Transparent
The Departments of Energy's (DOE) and Defense's (DOD) $263.8 billion, 10-year estimates in their report to Congress for sustaining and modernizing U.S. nuclear weapons capabilities are generally consistent with their funding plans through fiscal year 2018. However, GAO identified shortcomings with respect to the completeness of the budget estimates and the transparency of the assumptions and limitations that underlie the 10-year estimate.
The report omits estimates for certain programs, such as the new bomber, and is not fully transparent in describing key assumptions and limitations for estimating nuclear command, control, and communications system funding, which limits its utility for budgetary planning. Report.
DOE OIG: NNSA’s Management of the $245 million Nuclear Materials Safeguards and Security Upgrades Project Phase II at Los Alamos National Laboratory
OIG's review revealed that the NMSSUP suffered from a number of project management weaknesses. These issues ultimately resulted in cost increases of as much as $41 million and delayed completion of the project by nearly a year. In addition, management information systems failed to provide accurate and complete information about the funds available to complete the remaining work scope. These project management issues created a series of problems that collectively resulted in significant unanticipated cost and schedule impacts. Although it failed to take effective action to address project management weaknesses in NMSSUP, the Department implemented detective controls that identified many of the issues in this report and are key tools for holding Department contractors accountable for their performance. NNSA had taken a number of positive actions to hold LANS accountable for lack of performance; however, project management concerns remain despite these actions. Report.
LA Monitor: IG targets security project
DOE OIG: Questioned, Unresolved, and Potentially Unallowable Costs Incurred by Los Alamos National Laboratory during Fiscal Years 2008 and 2009
Since June 2006, Los Alamos National Security, LLC, has operated the Los Alamos National Laboratory (Los Alamos) for the Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA). Los Alamos incurred and claimed costs of $1.8 billion in Fiscal Year (FY) 2008 and $1.9 billion in FY 2009.
OIG identified approximately $2 million in questioned and unresolved costs claimed by Los Alamos during FYs 2008 and 2009. The majority of these costs concerned labor charges that Los Alamos' Internal Audit found either did not benefit NNSA or did not comply with the contract's allowable cost provisions. OIG also identified more than $437 million in subcontract costs that were unresolved pending audit or review by Internal Audit. Report.
DOE OIG: Improvements Needed in the Department's Emergency Preparedness and Continuity of Operations Planning
The Department of Energy's diverse mission is directly related to helping resolve many of the energy, environmental, and nuclear security challenges that face the Nation. As a consequence, the Department's operations involve dangerous substances such as nuclear and hazardous materials.
OIG's review disclosed significant weaknesses in the Department's emergency preparedness and Continuity of Operations (COOP) programs.
For instance, at the four sites included in OIG's review, we found that:
Sites had not completed all required emergency planning. Notably, our review of 2009 emergency readiness reports disclosed that programs and sites had not finally approved 105 of the 140 Hazards Surveys and 39 of the 74 Emergency Planning Hazards Assessments (EPHA) that were required – actions necessary to accurately assess and respond to hazards;
At three of the four sites we visited, we found that officials were not always adequately resolving emergency management issues. Some of these issues included the inability to communicate via established emergency networks, the lack of hazard identification planning, and inaccurate hazardous chemical tracking systems. These problems were identified over a multi-year period through drills, exercises, and assessments; and,
Sites did not always share lessons learned and track performance metrics, as required, to augment corrective action processes. Officials also routinely failed to take advantage of the Department's Corporate Lessons Learned system when developing or modifying existing action plans. Furthermore, none of the field sites had adopted and implemented performance measures that covered the four key emergency management activities.
Weaknesses continued to exist because program emergency management coordinators and cognizant field elements did not provide sufficient oversight or ensure contractor compliance with existing requirements. Report.