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United States Government Accountability Office GAO For Release on Delivery Expected at 10:00 a.m. EST Wednesday, January 23, 2008 Testimony Before the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, Committee on Energy and Commerce, House of Representatives NUCLEAR NONPROLIFERATION DOE Needs to Reassess Its Program to Assist Weapons Scientists in Russia and Other Countries Statement of Robert A. Robinson, Managing Director Natural Resources and Environment GAO-08-434T January 23, 2008 NUCLE
    United States Government Accountability Office GAO TestimonyBefore the Subcommittee on Oversightand Investigations, Committee on Energyand Commerce, House of Representatives NUCLEARNONPROLIFERATIONDOE Needs to Reassess ItsProgram to Assist WeaponsScientists in Russia andOther Countries Statement of Robert A. Robinson, Managing DirectorNatural Resources and Environment For Release on DeliveryExpected at 10:00 a.m. ESTWednesday, January 23, 2008 GAO-08-434T  What GAO Found United States Government Accountability Office Why GAO Did This Study H ighlights Accountability Integrity Reliability   January 23, 2008   NUCLEAR NONPROLIFERATION DOE Need s to Rea ss e ss It s Pro g ram to A ss i s tWeapon s   S cienti s t s in Ru ss ia and Other Countrie s   Highlights ofGAO-08-434T, testimonybefore the Subcommittee on Oversightand Investigations, Committee on Energyand Commerce, House of Representatives During the decades before itsdissolution, the Soviet Union produced a cadre of scientists andengineers whose knowledge andexpertise could be invaluable tocountries or terrorist groups tryingto develop weapons of massdestruction (WMD). After theSoviet Union’s collapse in 1991,many of these scientists sufferedsignificant cuts in pay or lost theirgovernment-supported work. Toaddress concerns aboutunemployed or underemployedSoviet-era weapons scientists, theDepartment of Energy (DOE)established the Initiatives forProliferation Prevention (IPP) program in 1994 to engage formerSoviet weapons scientists innonmilitary work in the short termand create private sector jobs forthese scientists in the long term.GAO was asked to assess (1) DOE’sreported accomplishments for theIPP program, (2) DOE’s exitstrategy for the program, and (3)the extent to which the programhas experienced annual carryoversof unspent funds and the reasonsfor any such carryovers.In December 2007, GAO issued areport— uclear Nonproliferation: DOE’s Program to Assist Weapons Scientists in Russia and Other Countries Needs to Be Reassessed ,(GAO-08-189)—that addressedthese matters. To carry out itswork, GAO, among other things,analyzed DOE policies, plans, andbudgets and interviewed key program officials andrepresentatives from 22 Russianand Ukrainian institutes. DOE has overstated accomplishments on the number of scientists receivingDOE support and the number of long-term, private sector jobs created. First,although DOE claims to have engaged over 16,770 scientists in Russia andother countries, this total includes both scientists with and without weapons-related experience. GAO’s analysis of 97 IPP projects involving about 6,450scientists showed that more than half did not claim to possess any weapons-related experience. Furthermore, officials from 10 Russian and Ukrainianweapons institutes told GAO that the IPP program helps them attract, recruit,and retain younger scientists and contributes to the continued operation of their facilities. This is contrary to the srcinal intent of the program, whichwas to reduce the proliferation risk posed by Soviet-era weapons scientists.Second, although DOE asserts that the IPP program helped create 2,790 long-term, private sector jobs for former weapons scientists, the credibility of thisnumber is uncertain because DOE relies on “good-faith” reporting from U.S.industry partners and foreign institutes and does not independently verify thenumber of jobs reported to have been created.DOE has not developed an exit strategy for the IPP program. Officials fromthe Russian government, Russian and Ukrainian institutes, and U.S.companies raised questions about the continuing need for the program.Importantly, a senior Russian Atomic Energy Agency official told GAO thatthe IPP program is no longer relevant because Russia’s economy is strong andits scientists no longer pose a proliferation risk. DOE has not developedcriteria to determine when scientists, institutes, or countries should“graduate” from the program. In contrast, the Department of State, whichsupports a similar program to assist Soviet-era weapons scientists, hasassessed participating institutes and developed a strategy to graduate certaininstitutes from its program. Even so, we found that DOE is currentlysupporting 35 IPP projects at 17 Russian and Ukrainian institutes where Stateno longer funds projects because it considers them to have graduated from its program. In addition, DOE has recently expanded the program to new areas.Specifically, DOE began providing assistance to scientists in Iraq and Libyaand, through the IPP program, is working to develop projects that support aDOE-led international effort to expand the use of civilian nuclear power.In every fiscal year since 1998, DOE carried over unspent funds in excess of the amount that the Congress provided for the program. Two main factorshave contributed to this recurring problem—lengthy review and approval processes for paying former Soviet weapons scientists and delays inimplementing some IPP projects.In its recent report, GAO recommended, among other things, that DOEconduct a fundamental reassessment of the IPP program, including thedevelopment of a prioritization plan and exit strategy. DOE generallyconcurred with GAO’s findings, but does not believe that the IPP programneeds to be reassessed. To view the full product, including the scopeand methodology, click onGAO-08-434T.For more information, contact Robert A.Robinson at (202) 512-3841 orrobinsonr@gao.gov.     Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee:I am pleased to be here today to discuss the Department of Energy’s(DOE) Initiatives for Proliferation Prevention (IPP) program, which seeksto engage former Soviet weapons scientists in nonmilitary work in theshort term and create private sector jobs for these scientists in the longterm. Specifically, my remarks are based on the report we issued inDecember 2007—  Nuclear Nonproliferation: DOE’s Program to AssistWeapons Scientists in Russia and Other Countries Needs to Be Reassessed . 1 This report is our second review of the IPP program. In 1999,we found significant problems with DOE’s management of the IPP program and, as a result, we made several recommendations that DOE hasimplemented to improve the program. 2  After the Soviet Union’s collapse in 1991, many scientists and engineerswith weapons of mass destruction (WMD) knowledge and expertisesuffered significant cuts in pay or lost their government-supported work.To address concerns that these scientists would sell their expertise toterrorists or countries of concern, DOE began its IPP program in 1994.Through October 1, 2007, there were 929 draft, active, inactive, andcompleted IPP projects involving personnel at about 200 nuclear,chemical, and biological institutes in Russia and other countries. As of  April 2007, DOE reported it had supplemented the salaries of over 16,770scientists, engineers, and technicians and created 2,790 long-term, privatesector jobs in Russia and other countries through the IPP program.My testimony today will discuss (1) DOE’s reported accomplishments forthe IPP program, (2) DOE’s exit strategy for the IPP program, and (3) theextent to which the IPP program has experienced annual carryoverbalances of unspent funds and the reasons for such carryovers. Inconducting our review, we examined 207 of the 929 IPP projects. We 1 GAO-08-189(Washington, D.C.: Dec. 12, 2007). 2 See GAO,  Nuclear Nonproliferation: Concerns with DOE’s Efforts to Reduce the Risks Posed by Russia’s Unemployed Weapons Scientists ,GAO/RCED-99-54(Washington, D.C.:Feb. 19, 1999). As a result of our 1999 review, DOE modified the IPP program byimplementing requirements to (1) better categorize the weapons backgrounds of scientists participating in IPP projects; (2) review projects for potential dual-use technology; (3) limitfunding for DOE national laboratories to no more than 35 percent for each IPP project; (4)eliminate basic research projects; (5) establish direct, tax-free payments to participatingformer Soviet scientists; and (6) institute audits conducted by the Defense Contract Audit Agency as a way of verifying proper transfer of IPP program funds and equipment. Page 1 GAO-08-434T    selected this sample of projects on the basis of a variety of factors, such asgeographic distribution, representation of all participating U.S. nationallaboratories, and project costs. We interviewed key DOE and nationallaboratory officials and analyzed documentation, such as programguidance, project proposals, and financial information. We alsointerviewed officials from 15 Russian and 7 Ukrainian institutes and 14U.S. companies that participate in the program. In addition, we analyzed program cost and budgetary information, interviewed knowledgeableofficials on the reliability of these data, and determined that they weresufficiently reliable for the purposes of our review. We conducted this performance audit from October 2006 through December 2007 inaccordance with generally accepted government auditing standards. Thosestandards require that we plan and perform the audit to obtain sufficient,appropriate evidence to provide a reasonable basis for our findings andconclusions based on our audit objectives. We believe that the evidenceobtained provides a reasonable basis for our findings and conclusionsbased on our audit objectives.DOE has overstated the number of WMD scientists receiving DOE supportand the number of long-term, private sector jobs created. First, accordingto our analysis of 97 IPP projects involving about 6,450 scientists forwhom we had complete payment information, more than half of thescientists paid by the program never claimed to have WMD experience.Furthermore, according to officials at 10 nuclear and biological institutesin Russia and Ukraine, IPP program funds help them attract, recruit, andretain younger scientists and contribute to the continued operation of their facilities. This is contrary to the srcinal intent of the program, whichwas to reduce the proliferation risk posed by Soviet-era weaponsscientists. For example, about 972 of the scientists paid for work on these97 projects were born in 1970 or later, making them too young to havecontributed to Soviet-era WMD efforts. Second, although DOE asserts thatthrough April 2007, the IPP program had helped create 2,790 long-term, private sector jobs in Russia and other countries, we were unable tosubstantiate the existence of many of these jobs in our review of the projects DOE considers to be commercial successes. DOE relies on “good-faith” reporting and does not independently verify employment data itreceives. Finally, DOE officials stated that the IPP program metrics are notsufficient to judge the program’s progress in reducing proliferation risks.However, DOE has not updated its metrics or set priorities for the program on the basis of a country-by-country and institute-by-instituteevaluation of proliferation risks. In Summary Page 2 GAO-08-434T
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