Special Report: DOE-OIG-19-04

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November 2, 2018

Special Report on “Compilation of Challenges and Previously Reported Key Findings at the Hanford Site for Fiscal Years 2012-2018”

The Department of Energy’s Hanford Site was established during World War II to produce plutonium for the Nation’s nuclear weapons.  The 586-square-mile Hanford Site is located along the Columbia River in southeastern Washington State.  Beginning in the 1940s with the Manhattan Project, the Hanford Site played a pivotal role in the Nation’s defense with the construction and operations of nine nuclear reactors and five large plutonium processing complexes.  Today, the Hanford Site includes numerous former nuclear material production areas, active and closed research facilities, waste storage and disposal sites, and large areas of natural habitat and buffer zones.  Under the direction of the Department, the Hanford Site workforce is engaged in the cleanup of contaminated facilities, groundwater, and soils resulting from this period of national defense activities.

The Department’s Office of Environmental Management oversees the Hanford Site, and the two offices at Hanford whose mission is environmental cleanup include the Richland Operations Office and the Office of River Protection.  The Office of River Protection is responsible for cleanup of Hanford Site tank waste.  The Richland Operations Office is responsible for nuclear waste and facility cleanup and overall management of the Hanford Site.

Due to the complex nature of operations at the Hanford Site and the significant funding involved, as well as the trend of Office of Inspector General findings involving mismanagement, weak internal controls, and fraud committed by contractors and subcontractors, we initiated this report to provide a consolidated body of work representing a compilation of Office of Inspector General findings from fiscal years 2012–2018.  The Office of Inspector General’s objective is to highlight management challenges and key findings that were identified in its previous audits, inspections, and investigations related to the Hanford Site.

As many of the weaknesses continue, without more aggressive oversight of contractors and subcontractors, millions of dollars will continue to be at risk for inappropriate charges and potential fraudulent activities.  We are hopeful that this consolidated summary of the previously issued significant Office of Inspector General findings from fiscal years 2012–2018 will serve as evidence of systemic internal control weaknesses and fraudulent activities and ultimately result in the Department strengthening its oversight of Federal operations and contractors.  

Topic: Management & Administration