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Friday, May 7th, 2021

GAO: NNSA should evaluate surveillance program in assessing nuclear weapons stockpile

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a study on Wednesday evaluating the role of the enhanced surveillance program in assessing the condition of the U.S. nuclear stockpile.

The GAO report found that the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) did not fully implement the enhanced surveillance program as laid out in the agency’s 2007 Surveillance Transformation Project. Additionally, the GAO report found that the DOE has not developed a long-term strategy for the program. Provisions in the surveillance project included various testing of weapons as a whole, testing weapon components and testing materials to determine whether they are meeting performance expectations through the use of diagnostic tools.

The GAO conducts annual report to assess the safety and reliability of the U.S. nuclear stockpile, now largely made up of weapons that are beyond their original design lifetimes. Under the 2007 Surveillance Transformation Project, predictive models assessed the impact of aging weapons in the stockpile without having to dismantle them as the DOE has done in previous years.

The GAO report recommended that the NNSA administrator develop a long-term strategy for the enhanced surveillance program that incorporates leading practices. After reviewing the GAO report, the NNSA concurred with the recommendations and estimated the long-term completion of the strategy by June.