Jane VaynmanNew GAO Report on MPC&A

GAO has released a new report on MPC&A (Materials Protection Control and Accounting). It is positive for the most part, praising DOE and DOD cooperation on work at nuclear warhead sites in Russia, which has improved since GAO’s 2003 assessment.

It is a very clearly written report, compared to others I’ve read on the Russia nonproliferation programs, and is good about identifying what office works on what types of sites, how many of them, and with which Russian partners. On the other hand, the report lacks details on Russian responses to DOE’s sustainability plans and Russian plans for materials security after 2013 when MPC&A assistance is slated to end. The authors clearly note though that the GAO team had difficulties in getting information and access from Rosatom.

From the GAO assessment, it appears that DOE and DOD have decent plans for wrapping up remaining MPC&A work and developing sustainability guidelines. The recommendations are minor: some improvements needed for tracking progress in sustainability, as well as in identifying sites as “secure” after comprehensive, not rapid upgrades. (See p. 32 for the recommendations.) Yet the effectiveness of remaining plans, and even attempts to measure effectiveness, is going to depend on the level of cooperation on the Russian side, which remains, as usual, problematic but moving along.

Also, nice appendixes. There is a map of DOE spending outside of Russia, with money totals for each country, and rather nifty timeline of MPC&A activities. Is it too wonky to print them out to decorate my office?


  1. Brian Ellison (History)

    While the recommendations indeed appear to be minor, as mentioned, the report does point out that DOE does not have a system in place to track improvements with accuracy. It cites DOD’s earned value management (EVM) system of projecting inadequacies in scheduling and costs. DOE may look to implement something along these lines in order to meet the 2013 goal of full Russian responsibility.

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