National Nuclear Security Administration: Security and Management Improvements Can Enhance Implementation of the NNSA Act Page: 2 of 15
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Highlights of GAO-07-428T, a testimony
before the Subcommittee on Strategic
Forces, Committee on Armed Services,
House of Representatives
Why GAO Did This Study
During the late 1990s, the
Department of Energy (DOE)
experienced difficulties with a lack
of clear management authority and
responsibility that contributed to
security problems at the nation's
nuclear weapons laboratories and
management problems with major
projects. In response, Congress
created the National Nuclear
Security Administration (NNSA) as
a separately organized agency
within DOE under Title 32 of the
National Defense Authorization Act
for Fiscal Year 2000-the NNSA
Act. Since its creation, NNSA has
continued to experience security
problems, such as unauthorized
access to NNSA computer systems,
and cost and schedule overruns on
major projects, such as the
National Ignition Facility.
GAO was asked to review the
extent to which NNSA has taken
steps to (1) improve security at its
laboratories and plants and (2)
improve its management practices
and revise its organizational
structure. In January 2007, GAO
issued a report-National Nuclear
Additional Actions Needed to
Improve Management of the
Nation's Nuclear Programs, (GAO-
07-36)-that addressed these
To carry out its work, GAO
reviewed legislation; NNSA
policies, plans and budgets;
collected and analyzed security
performance ratings and
interviewed current and former
DOE and NNSA officials.
To view the full product, including the scope
and methodology, click on the link above.
For more information, contact Gene Aloise at
(202) 512-3841 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
NATIONAL NUCLEAR SECURITY
Security and Management Improvements
Can Enhance Implementation of the
What GAO Found
While NNSA has better delineated lines of authority and improved
communication through a reorganization and has made progress in
establishing critical management systems, especially in the development of
its Planning, Programming, Budgeting, and Evaluation process, important
weaknesses remain with respect to security; the Administration's
relationship with DOE; and project, program and financial management.
Although NNSA has begun to build an effective headquarters security
organization, it still cannot demonstrate that all of its security program
objectives are being met at all of its sites. Specifically, GAO identified
weaknesses in physical security at several NNSA sites, including the Nevada
Test Site, the Sandia National Laboratories, and the Y-12 National Security
Complex; and weaknesses in cyber security throughout NNSA. Four factors
have contributed to these problems: (1) lack of consistent NNSA
headquarters leadership and direction for security; (2) security personnel
staffing shortages at NNSA site offices; (3) lack of adequate training
resources and opportunities for site office security staff; and (4) incomplete
security data to gauge the effectiveness of NNSA's security program.
While NNSA has focused considerable attention on reorganizing its internal
operations, it and DOE have continued to struggle with agreeing on how
NNSA should operate as a separately organized agency within the
department. This lack of agreement has resulted in organizational conflicts
that have inhibited effective operations. While there have been continuing
calls for removing NNSA from DOE and establishing it as a separate agency,
GAO does not believe that such drastic change is necessary to provide
effective oversight of the nuclear weapons complex. Rather, DOE and NNSA
need to clearly define their working relationships and determine how
conflicts will be resolved.
Finally, GAO identified several other management weaknesses where
additional NNSA actions could strengthen its ability to manage the nuclear
weapons complex. For example, among other things, NNSA has not (1)
implemented a plan for improving its project management efforts; (2)
identified all of its program managers and trained them to a certified level of
competency; and (3) established an independent analysis unit to review
program budget proposals and analyze budget alternatives.
In its recent report, GAO made recommendations to the Secretary of Energy
and the Administrator of NNSA to (1) improve NNSA's security oversight
program; (2) clearly define NNSA's status as a separately organized agency
within DOE; and (3) improve project and program management, and the
Administration's planning, programming, budgeting, and evaluation process.
NNSA generally agreed with the report and its recommendations. NNSA
considered the agency a success but acknowledged there was considerable
work yet to be accomplished.
United States Government Accountability Office
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United States. Government Accountability Office. National Nuclear Security Administration: Security and Management Improvements Can Enhance Implementation of the NNSA Act, text, January 31, 2007; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc292220/m1/2/: accessed October 23, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.