Nuclear safety agency rejects IT audit

Nuclear safety agency rejects IT audit

The National Nuclear Safety Administration has rejected the recommendations of an audit that found fault with the systems it uses to track nuclear material.

The Energy Department''s inspector general last month issued a report criticizing the operations of about 50 nuclear material tracking systems with which the department accounts for nuclear materials. DOE said it spends $217 million annually to operate the systems.

''Because these systems are not fully integrated, obtaining comprehensive data about nuclear materials is inefficient,'' the report said. DOE has been using one of the major parts of the accounting system, the Nuclear Materials Management Safeguards System, since 1965, according to the report.

The inspector general urged NNSA to develop a coordinated approach to nuclear accounting systems and impose a moratorium on systems development until it generates a modernization plan.

NNSA rejected the two recommendations, saying:

'h it is more important to establish and maintain accurate nuclear materials information than it is to implement an information architecture
'h a moratorium would prevent the agency from adjusting to program changes and improving efficiency.

DOE and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission have been studying ways to modernize the nuclear materials tracking systems for the past three years, the report said. But though the department has spent more than $700,000 on the project, it has yet to complete its plans to develop a corporate-level accounting system, the auditors said.

The department and NRC also have allowed nuclear operations organizations to develop or upgrade systems, at a projected cost of $7.5 million, that might not be compatible. The NNSA has started a redesign of the safeguards system but has not required program offices to provide the necessary funding, the report said.

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