Washington, D.C. – Responding to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report released today, Strategic Forces Subcommittee Chairman Jim Langevin (D-R.I.) and Ranking Member Michael Turner (R-Ohio) called for a more comprehensive and accurate assessment of the total costs of developing and maintaining the nation’s nuclear weapons.
“We must have a clear picture of the total costs of maintaining an effective nuclear stockpile to be able to accurately assess current and future needs and capabilities. We need to know exactly where the money is going and how it is being used. I am pleased that National Nuclear Security Administration has agreed with the GAO’s recommendations and has already begun to implement these accounting changes to improve their financial tracking and budgeting systems,” said Chairman Langevin.
“Having GAO’s independent assessment is particularly timely given NNSA’s release last week of its Stockpile Stewardship and Management Plan. NNSA plans to seek over $29 billion over the next four fiscal years and it is absolutely essential that NNSA be able to justify this increase and explain how it will benefit stockpile stewardship and management,” said Ranking Member Turner.
In November 2008, the Strategic Forces Subcommittee requested that GAO examine NNSA accounting practices and assess whether reductions in the nuclear stockpile would significantly affect nuclear weapons costs related to the Readiness in Technical Bases and Facilities (RTBF) operations and Stockpiles Services. GAO’s report, entitled “Actions Needed to Identify the Total Costs of Weapons Complex Infrastructure and Research and Production Capabilities” (GAO-10-582) , recommends that NNSA develop guidance for consistent collection of total cost information and use this information for budget formulation and program planning.
The GAO report concludes that:
· NNSA cannot accurately identify the total costs to operate and maintain weapons facilities and infrastructure because of differences in sites’ cost accounting practices.
· NNSA does not fully identify or estimate the total costs of the products and capabilities supported through the Stockpile Services R&D and production activities.
· Reducing stockpile size is unlikely to significantly affect NNSA’s RTBF Operations of Facilities and Stockpile Services costs because a sizable portion of these costs is fixed to maintain base nuclear weapons capabilities.
· Without complete and reliable information about these costs, NNSA lacks information that could help justify planned budget increases or target cost savings opportunities.
· NNSA has efforts underway that, if fully implemented, will provide more accurate information on costs related to maintaining U.S. nuclear weapons.