Nuclear Weapons: Steps Required to Boost Administration of NNSA’s Lithium Actions

What GAO Uncovered

In December 2019, the National Nuclear Stability Administration (NNSA) preliminarily believed development would charge involving $955 million and $1.645 billion for a new lithium processing facility (LPF) at the Y-12 Countrywide Security Sophisticated (Y-12) in Tennessee and would be concluded involving Might 2028 and September 2031. This is a sizeable increase in charge and plan in 2015, NNSA to begin with estimated that a new facility would price tag in between $300 and $631 million and could be done among 2023 and 2025. A person reason for the price and program changes is amplified facility dimensions, as mirrored in a far more mature style and design. GAO’s analysis of the LPF’s preliminary cost estimate discovered it to be considerably comprehensive. NNSA also programs to consist of a new engineering in the facility structure primarily based on its most the latest technologies evaluation. In this assessment, NNSA did not accumulate certain info necessary to thoroughly examine the lithium developed with the engineering. GAO greatest procedures advocate companies ensure all vital evidence is collected when assessing the maturity of a new engineering. Usually, NNSA faces some threats to ensuring the technological innovation is all set to begin construction in 2024 and could facial area long run delays to the LPF if screening reveals sudden complications with lithium created with this technological know-how.

Preliminary Price tag and Schedule Estimates for NNSA’s New Lithium Processing Facility Increased About Timea

aNNSA’s estimates are documented as actual dollars and have been not modified for inflation.

Significant application management instruments that NNSA could use to assist ensure that the company meets lithium need are beneath advancement and are not consistent with greatest methods. For case in point, the lithium program’s recent plan and scope of work—as expressed in a function breakdown structure—do not observe the similar plan routines. According to GAO ideal techniques, a program’s agenda should be aligned with its do the job breakdown structure to assure that pursuits are completed on time. By aligning these management instruments, NNSA could assistance make sure that the detailed scope of operate for the software is reflected in the plan and that NNSA is accomplishing all program functions on time.

Why GAO Did This Analyze

Due to the fact the 1940s, the nation’s supply of lithium utilised in some nuclear weapons parts has been processed at NNSA’s Y-12 web page. Having said that, due to deteriorating facilities and equipment and the want to reestablish dormant processing abilities, NNSA faces pitfalls in meeting potential lithium desire. To handle these challenges, NNSA has made a tactic to meet up with lithium demand until finally the 2030s, by which time it expects the new LPF will be thoroughly operational.

The Senate committee report accompanying the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 consists of a provision for GAO to examine NNSA’s lithium courses and tasks. GAO’s report examines, among the other issues, (1) the position of recent expense and timetable estimates and style and design routines for NNSA’s LPF undertaking and (2) the extent to which NNSA has designed management resources for the lithium program that are steady with greatest techniques.

GAO reviewed NNSA and contractor documentation, in comparison NNSA’s initiatives towards agency demands and very best methods, and interviewed NNSA officials and Y-12 contractor reps.