National Nuclear Security Administration: Laboratories' Indirect Cost Management Has Improved, but Additional Opportunities Exist, Report to the Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, Committee on Appropriations, U.S. Senate   [open pdf - 1MB]

"NNSA [National Nuclear Security Administration], a semiautonomous agency within DOE [Department of Energy], oversees the nation's nuclear security programs. M&O [Management and Operating] contractors manage NNSA's facilities, including its national security laboratories----Lawrence Livermore, Los Alamos, and Sandia. Each year, M&O contractors spend billions of dollars to manage and operate these laboratories. Costs include both direct costs--which can be identified with a specific objective or program--and indirect costs, such as management, administrative, and facility costs. Federal Cost Accounting Standards give M&O contractors flexibility in how costs are classified as direct or indirect and allocated to programs. GAO [Government Accountability Office] was asked to review M&O contractor indirect cost management. GAO examined (1) whether laboratory M&O contractors' practices differ for allocating indirect costs and, if so, how; (2) the extent to which NNSA ensures that laboratory M&O contractors' allocated indirect costs are accurate; and (3) the extent to which NNSA ensures that laboratory M&O contractors' indirect costs are reasonable. GAO reviewed NNSA and laboratory M&O contractor data and documents and spoke with DOE and NNSA officials and M&O contractors. […] GAO recommends DOE clarify the uses of the data gathered through the Institutional Cost Reporting initiative, conduct periodic risk assessments, and incorporate more specific requirements for benchmarking in its laboratory M&O contracts. DOE generally agreed with GAO's recommendations."

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Government Accountability Office: http://www.gao.gov/
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