IG scrutinizes management challenges at DOE

-A A +A

Report: NNSA problems seemingly elude any quick fix

The Department of Energy Inspector General released a report last week illustrating the management challenges at DOE.

Inspector General Gregory Friedman wrote that “based on the results of our body of work over the last year, we have concluded that the list of management challenges for Fiscal Year (FY) 2013 should remain largely consistent with that of the previous year. While positive strides have been made in a number of areas, many of the department’s most significant management challenges are not amenable to immediate resolution.

Those management challenges include:
• Operational efficiency and cost savings
• Contract and financial assistance award management
• Cyber security
• Energy supply
• Environmental cleanup
• Human capital management
• Nuclear waste disposal
• Safeguards and security
• Stockpile stewardship

Friedman said the IG’s office has also developed a “watch list,” which came up after the recent events at the Y-12 National Security Complex where three trespassers gained access to a classified area. They defaced the building and they were not interrupted by any of the security measures in place.

“Given the policy issues that have arisen as a result of this intrusion and the importance of ensuring the safe and secure storage of nuclear materials at department sites, we have elevated Safeguards and Security to the management challenges list,” Friedman wrote.

Friedman wrote that operational cost savings should be a top priority and one of the bulleted items in the report states that the IG wants to eliminate duplicative National Nuclear Security Administration functions.

NNSA officials did not respond to a request for comment.

Friedman cited that House and Senate Energy and Water Committee members had similar concerns about the NNSA.

The committee language “directed NNSA and the department “to submit a joint assessment to the committee by Dec. 1, 2012 of the costs and benefits of consolidating functions with DOE to reduce costs and improve communication and program execution to respond to Congressional and Inspector General concerns.”

Friedman said the department was directed to “propose options for implementing changes.”

Separately, in the House Report on the National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2013, the committee requested that the department consider the prioritization of environmental cleanup efforts, as outlined in the report.

The report concluded with a number of management initiatives.

“Clearly, given the current volatility of economic conditions and associated budgetary concerns, the department must strive to ensure that operational efficiency is a primary theme in all agency programs and operations. Although only one step in the process, by aggressively addressing the management challenges, the department can enhance program efficiency and effectiveness; reduce or eliminate operational deficiencies; decrease fraud, waste, and abuse; and achieve substantial monetary savings,” Friedman said in the report.