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Problems persist in DOE project management

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Of 71 recent nonmajor Energy Department projects, only 21 have met or are expected to meet their goals for scope, cost and completion date, the Government Accountability Office says.

On top of that, 27 of the projects, which cost less than $750 million each to qualify as nonmajor, weren't sufficiently documented for auditors to tell whether they met their targets, the GAO says in a report (.pdf) released Jan. 22.

The projects are wide-ranging, including a $469 million National Nuclear Security Administration project to construct workspaces at Sandia National Laboratories and an Office of Environmental Management project to build waste disposal facilities at a former nuclear weapons plant in South Carolina.

Auditors identified several issues that have caused projects to lag. Both the NNSA and OEM have approved the start of construction without targets for scope, cost and completion date. They also haven't always tracked performance in the Energy Department's database for doing so, though the department requires that.

The department also requires that independent experts review performance targets, but OEM has approved new targets without doing the reviews, the report says.

If there aren't performance targets, or they aren't independently reviewed, or department officials can't access them, the department and auditors struggle to know "whether the department is truly delivering on its commitments," the report says.

For more:
- download the report, GAO-13-129 (.pdf)

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