Nuclear Weapons: Actions Desired to Boost Management of NNSA’s Lithium Things to do

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What GAO Uncovered

In December 2019, the Nationwide Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) preliminarily believed design would charge in between $955 million and $1.645 billion for a new lithium processing facility (LPF) at the Y-12 Nationwide Stability Sophisticated (Y-12) in Tennessee and would be finished concerning May well 2028 and September 2031. This is a considerable raise in charge and program in 2015, NNSA originally approximated that a new facility would charge in between $300 and $631 million and could be done concerning 2023 and 2025. A person purpose for the value and schedule modifications is enhanced facility sizing, as mirrored in a far more experienced structure. GAO’s analysis of the LPF’s preliminary value estimate located it to be substantially detailed. NNSA also plans to contain a new technologies in the facility design based on its most new technological know-how assessment. In this assessment, NNSA did not accumulate specified information necessary to completely assess the lithium developed with the technologies. GAO very best practices suggest companies assure all required evidence is collected when assessing the maturity of a new know-how. If not, NNSA faces some dangers to ensuring the technologies is all set to begin building in 2024 and could face potential delays to the LPF if screening reveals sudden complications with lithium generated with this engineering.

Preliminary Price and Agenda Estimates for NNSA’s New Lithium Processing Facility Greater Around Timea

aNNSA’s estimates are described as precise dollars and were not altered for inflation.

Critical application management applications that NNSA could use to assist guarantee that the company satisfies lithium need are beneath improvement and are not dependable with greatest methods. For example, the lithium program’s current plan and scope of work—as expressed in a work breakdown structure—do not keep track of the identical program things to do. In accordance to GAO most effective methods, a program’s program really should be aligned with its operate breakdown composition to be certain that activities are done on time. By aligning these management instruments, NNSA could support assure that the complete scope of get the job done for the system is reflected in the timetable and that NNSA is carrying out all application things to do on time.

Why GAO Did This Research

Considering the fact that the 1940s, the nation’s source of lithium made use of in some nuclear weapons components has been processed at NNSA’s Y-12 site. However, thanks to deteriorating services and machines and the have to have to reestablish dormant processing capabilities, NNSA faces challenges in assembly potential lithium need. To deal with these challenges, NNSA has formulated a method to meet up with lithium desire till the 2030s, by which time it expects the new LPF will be thoroughly operational.

The Senate committee report accompanying the National Protection Authorization Act for Fiscal 12 months 2020 includes a provision for GAO to analyze NNSA’s lithium plans and tasks. GAO’s report examines, among the other matters, (1) the status of current value and timetable estimates and layout pursuits for NNSA’s LPF challenge and (2) the extent to which NNSA has created management instruments for the lithium system that are dependable with ideal practices.

GAO reviewed NNSA and contractor documentation, in comparison NNSA’s initiatives versus agency demands and best practices, and interviewed NNSA officers and Y-12 contractor reps.