Nuclear Security: DOE Must Address Significant Issues to Meet the Requirements of the New Design Basis Threat Page: 5 of 20
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provide a timely and cost effective defense of its most sensitive facilities.
Specifically, we found the following:
* Development of the new DBT took almost 2 years because of (1) delays in
developing an intelligence community assessment-known as the
Postulated Threat-of the terrorist threat to nuclear weapon facilities, (2)
DOE's lengthy comment and review process for developing policy, and (3)
sharp debates within DOE and other government organizations over the
size and capabilities of future terrorist threats and the availability of
resources to meet these threats.
* While the May 2003 DBT identifies a larger terrorist threat than did the
previous DBT, the threat identified in the new DBT, in most cases, is less
than the threat identified in the intelligence community's Postulated
Threat, on which the DBT has been traditionally based. The new DBT
identifies new possible terrorist acts such as radiological, chemical, or
biological sabotage. However, the criteria that DOE has selected for
determining when facilities may need to be protected against these forms
of sabotage may not be sufficient. For example, for chemical sabotage, the
2003 DBT requires sites to protect to "industry standards;" however, such
standards currently do not exist.
* DOE has been slow to resolve a number of significant issues, such as
issuing additional DBT implementation guidance, developing DBT
implementation plans, and developing budgets to support these plans, that
may affect the ability of its sites to fully meet the threat contained in the
new DBT in a timely fashion. Consequently, DOE's deadline to meet the
requirements of the new DBT by the end of fiscal year 2006 is probably not
realistic for some sites.
In our recent report, Nuclear Security: DOE Needs to Resolve Significant
Issues Before It Fully Meets the New Design Basis Threat (GAO-04-623),
we made seven recommendations to the Secretary of Energy that are
intended to strengthen DOE's ability to meet the requirements of the new
DBT, improve the department's ability to deal with future terrorist threats,
and better inform Congress on departmental progress in meeting the
threat contained in the new DBT and reducing risks to critical facilities at
DOE sites. DOE said that the department would consider these
recommendations as part of its Departmental Management Challenges for
2004. DOE has identified the DBT as a major departmental initiative within
the National Security Management Challenge. Recently, in response to our
recommendations, DOE agreed to reexamine some of the key aspects and
assumptions of the May 2003 DBT.
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United States. General Accounting Office. Nuclear Security: DOE Must Address Significant Issues to Meet the Requirements of the New Design Basis Threat, text, May 11, 2004; Washington D.C.. (https://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc293919/m1/5/: accessed May 21, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, https://digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.