Nuclear Weapons: Actions Required to Boost Management of NNSA’s Lithium Activities

What GAO Identified

In December 2019, the National Nuclear Stability Administration (NNSA) preliminarily estimated development would price tag among $955 million and $1.645 billion for a new lithium processing facility (LPF) at the Y-12 Countrywide Stability Intricate (Y-12) in Tennessee and would be accomplished concerning May possibly 2028 and September 2031. This is a substantial enhance in charge and timetable in 2015, NNSA initially believed that a new facility would expense amongst $300 and $631 million and could be concluded in between 2023 and 2025. Just one cause for the expense and schedule alterations is elevated facility dimensions, as mirrored in a more mature style. GAO’s evaluation of the LPF’s preliminary price estimate located it to be substantially comprehensive. NNSA also ideas to involve a new know-how in the facility style and design dependent on its most latest technology evaluation. In this evaluation, NNSA did not obtain particular details required to completely evaluate the lithium generated with the technologies. GAO greatest techniques propose organizations be certain all essential proof is gathered when evaluating the maturity of a new technologies. In any other case, NNSA faces some hazards to guaranteeing the technologies is all set to get started design in 2024 and could face upcoming delays to the LPF if testing reveals unpredicted troubles with lithium made with this technologies.

Preliminary Cost and Plan Estimates for NNSA’s New Lithium Processing Facility Elevated Over Timea

aNNSA’s estimates are claimed as actual bucks and were being not altered for inflation.

Critical application management tools that NNSA could use to help make sure that the agency meets lithium demand from customers are beneath growth and are not regular with finest procedures. For instance, the lithium program’s recent schedule and scope of work—as expressed in a operate breakdown structure—do not monitor the exact same program routines. In accordance to GAO ideal methods, a program’s plan need to be aligned with its work breakdown framework to guarantee that actions are completed on time. By aligning these management applications, NNSA could assist be certain that the complete scope of do the job for the software is reflected in the routine and that NNSA is carrying out all application things to do on time.

Why GAO Did This Analyze

Because the 1940s, the nation’s source of lithium utilised in some nuclear weapons parts has been processed at NNSA’s Y-12 web-site. Having said that, because of to deteriorating amenities and products and the require to reestablish dormant processing capabilities, NNSA faces threats in conference foreseeable future lithium desire. To tackle these worries, NNSA has designed a technique to meet lithium desire till 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 includes a provision for GAO to analyze NNSA’s lithium plans and assignments. GAO’s report examines, amongst other factors, (1) the position of existing value and routine estimates and layout functions for NNSA’s LPF challenge and (2) the extent to which NNSA has formulated management applications for the lithium method that are constant with finest methods.

GAO reviewed NNSA and contractor documentation, in comparison NNSA’s efforts versus company prerequisites and very best methods, and interviewed NNSA officials and Y-12 contractor representatives.