September 13, 2012 

Follow-up Audit of the Stockpile Surveillance Program

The Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration's (NNSA) stockpile surveillance program provides information on the status of the Nation's nuclear weapons stockpile.  In 2007, NNSA initiated the Surveillance Transformation Project (STP) to accelerate the surveillance program to look for changes in an aging stockpile.  The transformation called for an increase in evaluations of nonnuclear components and materials (CMEs) and a reduction in annual tests of weapons systems (laboratory) tests.

Our review disclosed that NNSA had taken actions to mitigate the STP transition challenges identified in the 2010 Surveillance Enterprise Study.  The Study stated that there were gaps in surveillance data that were further exacerbated by the decline in laboratory tests.  Furthermore, evaluations of nonnuclear components and materials CMEs were not being achieved as rapidly as expected.  To mitigate these challenges, NNSA achieved increased surveillance data through expanded laboratory tests and increased funding.  In addition, NNSA developed a comprehensive plan to complete baselining nonnuclear CMEs by the end of Fiscal Year (FY) 2018.  Although NNSA had mitigated STP transition challenges, we noted that it had not established an effective system of performance measurement over the Enhanced Surveillance subprogram.  After discussing our performance measurement concerns with NNSA officials, the measure was replaced in FY 2012 with one that more accurately reflects performance.  Therefore, we made a suggestion to management to closely monitor progress made in meeting CME requirements.

Topic: National Security & Safety