July 18, 2018
Supplier Quality Management at National Nuclear Security Administration Sites
As part of its mission, the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) ensures the sustainment of a safe, secure, and effective nuclear deterrent through the application of science, technology, engineering, and manufacturing. NNSA’s Management and Operating (M&O) contractors and suppliers support this mission by integrating quality requirements into management and work practices to build weapon components and procure materials so that the mission is accomplished and customer requirements are met.
Due to the importance of weapon supplier quality management and maintaining the nuclear weapons stockpile, we initiated this audit to determine whether NNSA sites were effectively managing external suppliers to ensure components were qualified for use in nuclear weapons. Nothing came to our attention that would indicate that NNSA sites were not effectively managing external suppliers to ensure components were qualified for use in nuclear weapons. We noted that sites evaluated and approved suppliers on the basis of specified criteria, technical capabilities, and the rigor of their quality management system. In addition, the sites actively monitored product nonconformance issues.
During our review, we noted that NNSA could improve program efficiencies with the supplier evaluation process. In particular, we identified instances where NNSA sites were not fully utilizing an available database tool designed, developed, and implemented to serve as a single master database of all suppliers, eliminate the duplication of supplier evaluation efforts, and achieve cost savings across NNSA. Specifically, we noted that sites performed their own supplier evaluations, rather than relying on the results of evaluations performed by other sites, and sites did not always update the database with the results of their supplier evaluations to make them available to other sites. As a result, NNSA sites may be spending more than necessary for supplier evaluations.
To maximize efficiencies and effectiveness, we made six recommendations. Management concurred with the report’s recommendations and indicated that corrective actions will be taken to address the issues identified in the report. Management’s proposed actions are responsive to our recommendations.
Topic: National Security & Safety