The Energy Department has taken steps to improve contract and project management but continues to struggle in that area, which is on GAO’s high-risk list, GAO has told Congress.

A witness told a Senate hearing that Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration, for example, has not aligned its modernization plans to the estimated funding needed, either in the short or long terms. Further, costs for some aspects, such as for nuclear weapon refurbishment, “may also increase and further strain future modernization budgets that currently do not anticipate these potential increases.”

Similarly, the department’s estimates for cleaning up nuclear waste repositories “excluded the costs and time frames for key activities, and therefore full costs are likely to be billions of dollars more than DOE’s reported environmental liabilities,” the GAO said.

Also, the witness said, the NNSA lacks measurable goals in its nonproliferation program and thus “may not be able to determine when the program has fully achieved its mission.”