Nuclear Weapons: Information on Safety Concerns with the Uranium Processing Facility Page: 3 of 21
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* issues "project letters" to DOE at major project milestones to document the results of
these reviews and communicate significant safety issues; and
* holds occasional public hearings to address concerns about DOE's safety practices,
including an October 2012 hearing on the UPF in Knoxville, Tennessee.
In 1990, we first designated DOE program management as an area at high risk of fraud, waste,
abuse, and mismanagement.8 In January 2009, to recognize the progress made at DOE's Office
of Science, we narrowed the focus of the high-risk designation to two DOE program elements,
NNSA and the Office of Environmental Management.9 In February 2013 we issued our most
recent high-risk update, in which we narrowed this focus to major projects (i.e., projects over
$750 million) at NNSA and the Office of Environmental Management.10 DOE has taken some
steps to address our concerns, including developing an order in 2010 that defines DOE's project
management principles and process for executing a capital asset construction project.11 NNSA
is required to manage the UPF in accordance with this order. The project management process
defined in Order 413.3B requires DOE projects to go through five management reviews and
approvals, called "critical decisions" (CD), as they move forward from project planning and
design to construction to operation. The CDs are:
* CD 0: Approve a mission-related need.
* CD 1: Approve an approach to meet a mission need and a preliminary cost estimate.
* CD 2: Approve the project's cost, schedule and scope targets.
* CD 3: Approve the start of construction.
* CD 4: Approve the start of operations.
In June 2012, the Deputy Secretary of Energy reaffirmed CD 1 for the UPF and approved a
phased approach to the project, which will defer significant portions of the facility's original
scope. This deferral was due, in part, to the project's increased cost estimate and to accelerate
the completion of the highest priority scope. Table 1 shows the UPF's phases, scope of work,
cost estimate as of June 2012, and key project dates.
8GAO, Government Financial Vulnerability: 14 Areas Needing Special Review, GAO/OCG-90-1 (Washington, D.C.:
Jan. 23, 1990). We update our high-risk list every 2 years.
9GAO, High-Risk Series: An Update, GAO-09-271 (Washington, D.C.: January 2009).
10GAO, High-Risk Series: An Update, GAO-13-283 (Washington, D.C.: February 2013).
11U.S. Department of Energy, Program and Project Management for the Acquisition of Capital Assets, DOE O 413.3B
(Washington, D.C.: Nov. 29, 2010).
GAO-14-79R Nuclear Weapons
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United States. Government Accountability Office. Nuclear Weapons: Information on Safety Concerns with the Uranium Processing Facility, text, October 25, 2013; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc302471/m1/3/: accessed November 21, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.