The agency responsible for the security and maintenance of the nation’s nuclear stockpile should have a better handle on its maintenance and operations contract documents, a new audit finds.
Some of the National Nuclear Security Administration’s field offices aren’t using a key Energy Department IT system to track important management and operations contracts, an oversight the Government and Accountability Office warns could potentially cost NNSA millions.
The NNSA, the semi-autonomous agency within the Energy Department, should officially advise its field offices to use a DOE’s Strategic Integrated Procurement Enterprise System (STRIPES) system to manage billions in M&O contracts, GAO said.
Those field offices, said the report, are using the web-based STRIPES for contract writing and modification, but not tapping its document management capabilities.
For the audit, GAO monitored contracts from NNSA’s Office of Acquisition and Project Management (OAPM), which is in charge of managing the M&O contracts for field offices. NNSA spent $11 billion through such contracts in fiscal 2016, GAO noted.
Keeping track of M&O contracts is critical to NNSA’s mission of protecting and maintaining the nation’s nuclear weapons stock. In its report, GAO cited a 2014 inspector general report that showed missing contract-related documentation resulted in NNSA accepting nuclear weapons components from a contractor that didn’t meet the agency’s specifications. Those flawed parts, it said, resulted in year-long delay in nuclear weapons construction at an additional cost of $20 to $25 million.
For its report, the GAO said it asked OAPM for contract documents from all 22 of DOE’s M&O contracts. Although OAPM has historically decentralized document management and other day-to-day duties to its field offices, it is also required to have direct access to contracting documentation.
In recommending field offices use STRIPES, GAO also noted there are glitches in that system, including slow document upload and download, as well as a lack of search capabilities that have given field offices pause in using it.
GAO recommended OAPM adopt DOE’s October 2017 policy that requires NNSA field offices to use STRIPES. NNSA, said GAO, agreed with the recommendation and said it would update and clarify the guidance.
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