July 22, 2021

The Department of Energy’s Control of Nuclear Reactor Safety Software Codes at Select Sites

Investigations conducted by multiple Federal agencies identified foreign entities in possession of, utilizing, or intending to use nuclear technologies developed by the United States of America.  On several occasions, these technologies were obtained in an inappropriate or potentially illegal manner.  According to the National Nuclear Security Administration, the fact that foreign entities possess such technology does not necessarily indicate an unauthorized transfer by the Department of Energy; rather, it is likely that the foreign entities received the technology as a retransfer from a third party.  Nonetheless, as a result of an unauthorized retransfer of the aforementioned incidents and growing proliferation concerns by the counterintelligence community and the Department alike, we initiated a review to determine whether the Department’s policies and procedures ensure controls over code sharing with both domestic and foreign entities were established, adequate, and operating as intended.

Our report identified a concern regarding coordination and collaboration across the Department complex regarding codes and the controls over their distribution.  Specifically, while we found the sites and associated programs reviewed had adequate policies, procedures, and controls in place, which operated as intended, we determined that each of these entities had differences with their processes and procedures, and the Department did not have a coordinated approach to provide oversight over the use and distribution of such codes.

As a result of the issues identified in this report, the Office of Inspector General is making multiple recommendations that, if implemented, will assist in identifying risks related to developing and/or sharing nuclear software and effectively communicating those risks with appropriate individuals.  Management concurred with our recommendations and stated that these recommendations will further strengthen the ongoing efforts in this area. 

The full report on this matter has been designated as for "Official Use Only" and is not available for public release.