Nuclear Weapons: Steps Necessary to Make improvements to Management of NNSA’s Lithium Functions

What GAO Observed

In December 2019, the National Nuclear Protection Administration (NNSA) preliminarily believed construction would price among $955 million and $1.645 billion for a new lithium processing facility (LPF) at the Y-12 Countrywide Safety Intricate (Y-12) in Tennessee and would be finished in between Might 2028 and September 2031. This is a significant boost in expense and timetable in 2015, NNSA in the beginning estimated that a new facility would price tag in between $300 and $631 million and could be concluded involving 2023 and 2025. A single motive for the expense and plan improvements is increased facility sizing, as mirrored in a far more experienced style and design. GAO’s evaluation of the LPF’s preliminary expense estimate identified it to be considerably detailed. NNSA also programs to incorporate a new know-how in the facility structure dependent on its most current technological innovation assessment. In this evaluation, NNSA did not obtain particular facts necessary to totally evaluate the lithium generated with the technological know-how. GAO very best procedures recommend organizations ensure all necessary proof is gathered when assessing the maturity of a new technologies. Or else, NNSA faces some pitfalls to guaranteeing the technological know-how is all set to start construction in 2024 and could experience future delays to the LPF if tests reveals surprising difficulties with lithium generated with this technological know-how.

Preliminary Value and Timetable Estimates for NNSA’s New Lithium Processing Facility Greater In excess of Timea

aNNSA’s estimates are noted as genuine pounds and ended up not altered for inflation.

Important method management resources that NNSA could use to support ensure that the company fulfills lithium desire are beneath enhancement and are not dependable with finest techniques. For case in point, the lithium program’s existing schedule and scope of work—as expressed in a perform breakdown structure—do not observe the same method things to do. In accordance to GAO best techniques, a program’s plan really should be aligned with its perform breakdown structure to be certain that pursuits are completed on time. By aligning these management resources, NNSA could assist ensure that the detailed scope of do the job for the plan is mirrored in the agenda and that NNSA is accomplishing all method functions on time.

Why GAO Did This Examine

Due to the fact the 1940s, the nation’s offer of lithium utilised in some nuclear weapons parts has been processed at NNSA’s Y-12 web-site. Nonetheless, owing to deteriorating facilities and products and the will need to reestablish dormant processing abilities, NNSA faces challenges in assembly long run lithium demand. To address these challenges, NNSA has produced a method to satisfy lithium demand from customers right up until the 2030s, by which time it expects the new LPF will be fully operational.

The Senate committee report accompanying the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal 12 months 2020 contains a provision for GAO to study NNSA’s lithium systems and tasks. GAO’s report examines, among other issues, (1) the standing of present-day charge and plan estimates and design things to do for NNSA’s LPF venture and (2) the extent to which NNSA has developed management resources for the lithium software that are regular with greatest techniques.

GAO reviewed NNSA and contractor documentation, compared NNSA’s endeavours in opposition to agency needs and very best procedures, and interviewed NNSA officials and Y-12 contractor associates.

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