NNSA aims to improve the utility of common financial data – MeriTalk

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The Department of Energy’s (DoE) National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) has made progress in implementing a common financial reporting system, but the agency needs to make further improvements to make program costs more transparent, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) said.

The GAO’s latest findings come from its review of NNSA’s progress in implementing common financial reporting steps that the government oversight agency outlined in a January 2020 report.

According to the GAO, the NNSA still has work to do, including collecting standardized cost data from all contractors handling contracts to which it commits funds.

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“Specifically, some management and operations (M&O) contractors who are overseen by another DOE office, the DOE Office of Science, do not report complete data to NNSA because the two offices have not not agreed upon standardized cost elements for reporting this information,” GAO wrote in the new report. “This is partly because Office of Science officials believed the data was not comparable across programs or useful for their own program management.”

The NNSA has made common financial reporting data available to offices, and the data supports some management purposes for some offices, the GAO said. Unfortunately, the offices have used the data inconsistently, as the NNSA has not established agency-wide goals or expectations for using the data or for communicating how it will help the NNSA.

The oversight agency made four recommendations for the DOE, including:

  1. Facilitate agreement between NNSA and the Office of Science on the indirect cost elements that the Office of Science should report to achieve common NNSA cost reporting goals;
  2. Define and communicate objectives and expectations regarding the use of common financial reporting data;
  3. Coordinate with program offices to develop and approach, including cross-cutting and multi-programmatic costs; and
  4. Provide information to offices and work with managers to ensure they understand “how to customize the lower levels of the work breakdown structure to reflect the level of detail needed to oversee programs”.

The NNSA and the DoE agree with all four recommendations.

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