What GAO Found
In December 2019, the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) preliminarily believed construction would value among $955 million and $1.645 billion for a new lithium processing facility (LPF) at the Y-12 National Stability Elaborate (Y-12) in Tennessee and would be accomplished involving May well 2028 and September 2031. This is a considerable maximize in value and program in 2015, NNSA to begin with estimated that a new facility would price tag between $300 and $631 million and could be concluded concerning 2023 and 2025. Just one reason for the expense and routine variations is increased facility sizing, as mirrored in a a lot more mature style and design. GAO’s analysis of the LPF’s preliminary price tag estimate identified it to be substantially thorough. NNSA also strategies to include things like a new engineering in the facility design based mostly on its most recent know-how assessment. In this assessment, NNSA did not accumulate particular info essential to absolutely consider the lithium created with the engineering. GAO very best techniques advise organizations ensure all essential evidence is collected when examining the maturity of a new engineering. Normally, NNSA faces some risks to making sure the technologies is ready to get started design in 2024 and could facial area foreseeable future delays to the LPF if testing reveals unpredicted difficulties with lithium manufactured with this technologies.
Preliminary Price tag and Plan Estimates for NNSA’s New Lithium Processing Facility Amplified Above Timea
aNNSA’s estimates are documented as real pounds and ended up not adjusted for inflation.
Crucial application management resources that NNSA could use to aid make certain that the agency meets lithium need are beneath progress and are not consistent with best techniques. For case in point, the lithium program’s current plan and scope of work—as expressed in a do the job breakdown structure—do not observe the exact same plan things to do. According to GAO most effective methods, a program’s agenda should really be aligned with its work breakdown structure to be certain that routines are accomplished on time. By aligning these management equipment, NNSA could assistance ensure that the complete scope of work for the application is reflected in the routine and that NNSA is carrying out all software activities on time.
Why GAO Did This Examine
Because the 1940s, the nation’s source of lithium applied in some nuclear weapons parts has been processed at NNSA’s Y-12 web page. Even so, owing to deteriorating facilities and equipment and the have to have to reestablish dormant processing capabilities, NNSA faces risks in assembly long term lithium desire. To deal with these challenges, NNSA has designed a strategy to fulfill lithium desire until the 2030s, by which time it expects the new LPF will be absolutely operational.
The Senate committee report accompanying the Countrywide Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal 12 months 2020 includes a provision for GAO to examine NNSA’s lithium plans and initiatives. GAO’s report examines, amongst other items, (1) the standing of current cost and routine estimates and style and design things to do for NNSA’s LPF venture and (2) the extent to which NNSA has formulated management tools for the lithium program that are consistent with best methods.
GAO reviewed NNSA and contractor documentation, as opposed NNSA’s initiatives from company specifications and ideal tactics, and interviewed NNSA officers and Y-12 contractor associates.