GAO: NNSA needs better contract oversight

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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.

About the Author

Mark Rockwell is a senior staff writer at FCW, whose beat focuses on acquisition, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Energy.

Before joining FCW, Rockwell was Washington correspondent for Government Security News, where he covered all aspects of homeland security from IT to detection dogs and border security. Over the last 25 years in Washington as a reporter, editor and correspondent, he has covered an increasingly wide array of high-tech issues for publications like Communications Week, Internet Week, Fiber Optics News, tele.com magazine and Wireless Week.

Rockwell received a Jesse H. Neal Award for his work covering telecommunications issues, and is a graduate of James Madison University.

Click here for previous articles by Rockwell. Contact him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter at @MRockwell4.


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