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Tuesday, January 26th, 2021

GAO offers NNSA portfolio management recommendation

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The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has issued the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) a portfolio management recommendation regarding the agency’s nuclear weapon stockpile modernization efforts.

The GAO said the recommendation stemmed from the NNSA modernizing the nation’s nuclear weapon stockpile in addition to the infrastructure on which weapon programs depend.

The GAO indicated while the NNSA has improved some of its management practices for these modernization efforts, the NNSA has challenges managing costs and schedules.

The GAO previously recommended the NNSA assess affordability as a means of ensuring the ability to achieve its modernization goals at cost and on schedule.

A February 2020 GAO report on the W87-1 warhead program revealed the NNSA’s challenges in managing plutonium activities cast doubt on the agency’s ability to produce the required number of plutonium weapon cores on schedule.

GAO also found in June 2019 future weapon programs would require newly produced explosives, including some from the NNSA, which has not produced at scale since 1993.

The GAO indicated its scope of work in its analysis involved discussing the NNSA’s ongoing and planned programs and projects to modernize weapons and related infrastructure and challenges they present; NNSA’s improvements in managing these programs and projects, and additional steps NNSA could take to make further improvements; and the GAO’s prior recommendation to NNSA on assessing the affordability of its portfolio of modernization programs.

The GAO recommends the NNSA assess its portfolio of modernization programs to present options to align programs and budgets, noting the NNSA has taken some action but has not fully responded to the recommendation.