Audit Report: DOE-OIG-19-49

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September 17, 2019

Claims Reimbursement Process for Licensees Under Title X of the Energy Policy Act of 1992

From 1942 through 1970, the U.S. Army Manhattan Engineer District and the Atomic Energy Commission entered into several contracts with commercially operated mills to purchase uranium concentrate in support of U.S. defense programs.  The owners of these mills were considered licensees under the Atomic Energy Act.  Because of the limited knowledge of the radiological hazards created by the resulting mill process wastes, these contracts lacked provisions for managing and remediating wastes.  In 1992, Congress passed Title X of the Energy Policy Act of 1992 (Title X), which established the authority and framework for providing Federal assistance for the remediation of contamination at active uranium and thorium sites.  

Title X required the Department of Energy to administer all claims related to active uranium and thorium licensees.  In addition, 10 CFR Part 765, Reimbursement for Costs of Remedial Action at Active Uranium and Thorium Processing Sites, provided the Department with claim approval authority for the reimbursement program.  Specifically, this regulation authorized the Department to verify the appropriateness of costs claimed by auditing supporting documentation prior to approving claims for reimbursement.  We initiated this audit to determine whether the Department obtained assurance that only reimbursable costs were paid to licensees for the Federal portion of cleanup costs incurred under Title X. 

For the purposes of this audit, we reviewed the claim review process for the 2016 and 2017 financial and technical reviews.  Based on our audit, we believe that the Department has provided assurance that only reimbursable costs were paid to licensees for the Federal portion of cleanup costs.  However, our audit identified an instance after the claim review was conducted where a licensee was not reimbursed the appropriate amount.  We made two recommendations to ensure adequate oversight over the Title X program continues in the future and to increase the likelihood that only accurate payments are made to licensees.

Topic: Management and Adminstration