The Department of Energy’s (DoE) National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) has made progress in implementing a common financial reporting system, but the agency needs to make further improvements to make program costs more transparent, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) said.

GAO latest findings come from its look into NNSA’s progress in implementing steps for common financial reporting that the government watchdog agency outlined in a January 2020 report.

According to GAO, NNSA has additional work remaining, including collecting standardized cost data from all contractors managing contracts to which it obligates funds.

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“Specifically, some management and operating (M&O) contractors that are overseen by another DOE office, DOE’s Office of Science, are not reporting complete data to NNSA because the two offices have not agreed on the standardized cost elements for reporting this information,” wrote GAO in the new report. “This is, in part, because Office of Science officials believed that the data were not comparable across programs or useful for their own program management.”

NNSA has made common financial reporting data available to offices, and data supports some management purposes for some offices, GAO said. Unfortunately, offices have used the data inconsistently, as NNSA hasn’t established agency-wide goals or expectations for using data or communicate how it will help NNSA.

The watchdog agency made four recommendations for DOE, including:

  1. Facilitate an agreement between NNSA and the Office of Science on the indirect cost elements the Office of Science should report to achieve NNSA’s common cost reporting objectives;
  2. Define and communicate goals and expectations for using the common financial reporting data;
  3. Coordinate with program offices to develop and approach, including crosscutting and multi-programmatic costs; and
  4. Provide information to offices and work with officials to ensure an understanding on “how to customize lower levels of the work breakdown structure to reflect the level of detail needed to oversee programs.”

NNSA and DoE agreed with all four recommendations.

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Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.