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Audit Report: OAS-RA-11-15

August 25, 2011

Los Alamos National Laboratory Environmental Management Activities Funded by the Recovery Act

In 2009, the Department's National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) received approximately $212 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act) funds from the Office of Environmental Management for legacy environmental remediation activities at Los Alamos National Laboratory (Los Alamos).  The activities included:

  • The Delta Prime East and West Project;
  • The Tritium Systems Test and Assembly Project; and,
  • The Material Disposal Area B (MDA-B) Project. 

The Recovery Act funded work is part of an estimated $2.2 billion effort to remediate Los Alamos by December 2015, as required by a Consent Order agreement with the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED).  Due to the significant investment in these projects and the importance of these projects to remediating nuclear waste at Los Alamos, we initiated an audit to determine whether the Department had effectively managed the Los Alamos' Technical Area 21 projects and achieved the goals and objectives of the Recovery Act.  Our testing did not reveal any significant issues concerning Los Alamos' compliance with Recovery Act requirements for reporting, job creation, segregation of funds, and flow down of requirements to subcontracts.  In addition, we determined that the Delta Prime East and West, and Tritium Systems Test and Assembly projects were completed ahead of schedule and under budget.  However, the MDA-B project costs had increased and the project schedule had slipped due to reasons beyond Los Alamos' control, such as encountering greater than anticipated waste volumes and hazards.  We noted that Los Alamos had not established a management reserve to fund cost increases and schedule slippages caused by MDA-B project risks that was commensurate with the level of uncertainty that existed about the type and amount of waste to be remediated.  Due to MDA-B project's cost and schedule increases, Los Alamos was unable to meet a Consent Order milestone to submit a remedy completion report to NMED on December 31, 2010.  The NMED has since extended the milestone to August 31, 2011.  Additionally, we noted that Los Alamos had not fully implemented the established baseline change control process and had not updated the Recovery Act Project Execution Plan for the Recovery Act Projects.  Although we did not find any significant issues with Los Alamos' compliance with Recovery Act reporting requirements, we did identify duplicate reporting of four subcontract awards for the MDA-B project to Recovery.gov, the U.S. Government's official website used to track Recovery Act funds.  As a result of our review, Los Alamos corrected the discrepancies in its subsequent quarterly submission to Recovery.gov.

Topic: Environmental Cleanup