National Nuclear Security Administration Needs to Better Manage Risks Associated With Modernization of Its Kansas City Plant : Report to the Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, Committee on Appropriations, U.S. Senate
Built in 1943, the Kansas City Plant (KCP) -- the National Nuclear Security Administration's (NNSA) primary production plant for manufacturing nonnuclear components of nuclear warheads and bombs -- is to be modernized because of its age and the high cost of maintenance and operation. Among other changes, NNSA plans to relocate KCP to a new facility and increase components obtained from external suppliers from about 54 to 70 percent. KCP's continued supply of these components is essential for maintaining a reliable nuclear weapons stockpile. GAO was asked to determine (1) how KCP developed plans for modernization, (2) actions KCP has taken to ensure uninterrupted production of components, and (3) actions KCP has taken to address the risks of outsourcing. GAO reviewed planning documents and met with officials from NNSA, KCP, and Sandia National Laboratories, which designs many of the components produced at KCP. GAO is recommending, among other things, that NNSA ensure that future cost analyses consider the full useful life of the facility, revise the KCP relocation schedule to be consistent with Department of Energy (DOE) guidance and GAO-identified best practices, and develop a risk-based approach for managing technologies that could advance adversaries' nuclear capabilities.