High-Performance Computing: NNSA Could Improve Program Management Processes for System Acquisitions, Report to Congressional Committees   [open pdf - 1MB]

From the Highlights: "NNSA [National Nuclear Security Administration] is responsible for maintaining the nation's nuclear stockpile. To analyze the performance, safety, and reliability of nuclear weapons, it acquires high-performance computing (HPC) systems to conduct simulations. The latest system, El Capitan, is expected to be fully deployed by March 2024. The committee report accompanying the Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2019, includes a provision for GAO [Government Accountability Office] to review NNSA's management of its Advanced Simulation and Computing program. This report examines, among other things, (1) the extent to which NNSA's AOA [analysis of alternatives] process for the El Capitan acquisition met best practices and followed agency policy and guidance and (2) the extent to which NNSA is implementing selected acquisition best practices in carrying out the El Capitan acquisition program. GAO reviewed documents and interviewed NNSA officials and laboratory representatives involved in carrying out the AOA and acquisition processes. [...] GAO recommends that NNSA (1) ensure that future HPC acquisition programs follow AOA best practices, where possible, and justify and document any deviations consistent with policy; (2) ensure that an independent entity conducts future AOA processes; and (3) update and maintain acquisition program documents to include El Capitan requirements for the ongoing acquisition. NNSA generally concurred with these recommendations."

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Public Domain
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Government Accountability Office: https://www.gao.gov/
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