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GAO Calls for Updated Policy at the National Nuclear Security Administration

NNSA's policy does not require an assessment of whether data or analyses support that a proposed change is the most efficient way to fulfill its goals.

The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) has been reorganized multiple times since its creation in 1999, including most recently in 2022.

NNSA has policies to guide its reorganizations. However, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) says these policies only partially follow key practices for agency reforms. 

NNSA created new offices to add or elevate certain agency functions, such as an office focused on infrastructure management. NNSA also flattened its organizational structure to remove reporting layers between the Administrator and field-based offices. NNSA officials identified benefits, such as increased effectiveness in mission performance, which the organizational structure that existed prior to July 2022 had provided to NNSA. In July 2022, NNSA began to further reorganize the offices responsible for contract and project management and for infrastructure management.

GAO found that NNSA’s policy and procedures governing organizational change partially align with four categories of key practices for successful agency reform. For example, consistent with key practices related to developing reforms, NNSA’s policy states that those proposing an organizational change must analyze whether the proposed change is the most efficient way to fulfill the agency’s strategic goals. However, inconsistent with key practices related to developing reforms, NNSA’s policy does not require an assessment of whether data or analyses support that a proposed change is the most efficient way to fulfill its goals. GAO believes that updating its policy to fully align with key practices would help NNSA better ensure the effectiveness of any future organizational changes.

NNSA’s policy requires that any proposed organizational change include goals for the change. GAO found that NNSA set high-level goals for its July 2022 reorganization but did not establish specific outcome-oriented goals and performance measures, as called for by key practices for agency reform. As NNSA continues to implement its July 2022 reorganization, GAO says the agency has the opportunity to establish specific goals and performance measures that would help it assess whether the reorganization achieved its intended purposes.

GAO is making two recommendations. First, that NNSA should update its organizational change policy to fully align with key practices for agency reform; and second, establish specific outcome-oriented goals and performance measures for its July 2022 reorganization. NNSA agreed with both recommendations.

Read the full report at GAO

Homeland Security Todayhttp://www.hstoday.us
The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.

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