Audit Report: DOE-OIG-18-23

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March 9, 2018

Issues Management Within the Office of Science


The Department of Energy’s Office of Science is the steward of 10 national laboratories that are federally funded research and development centers operated by private sector organizations under management and operating contracts.  The Office of Science’s management and operating contractors are required to maintain comprehensive contractor assurance systems to provide reasonable assurance that objectives are being accomplished and that systems and controls will be effective and efficient.  One of the key attributes of contractor assurance is the identification and correction of negative performance/compliance trends before they become significant issues.  The Office of Science’s management and operating contractors maintain issues management programs as integral parts of their contractor assurance systems to ensure that issues are properly analyzed and corrective actions are taken to address deficiencies.

In general, nothing came to our attention to indicate that SLAC and Argonne did not have effective issues management programs.  We found that both laboratories had systems in place to track issues for corrective action purposes.  In addition, we found that both laboratories used a graded approach to evaluate and correct issues based on risk and priority.  However, during our audit, we did identify opportunities for improvement related to trending of issues and evaluating the effectiveness of corrective actions.  We found that both laboratories had already made similar observations prior to our audit and had started making enhancements to their issues management programs to address these areas.

We believe the actions being taken by SLAC and Argonne should address the opportunities for improvement we identified related to trending of issues and evaluating the effectiveness of corrective actions.  Therefore, we are not making any formal recommendations.

Topic: Management & Administration