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Bureaucrats, Pols Spar on DOE's Future

Fortnightly Magazine - October 15 1996

management.

"DOE has a long history of management problems," he said. "At the core of many of these problems is its weak oversight of more than 110,000 contractor employees, who perform nearly all of the department's work." Historically, contractors have worked without financial risk and got paid even for poor performance, he said. DOE is improving its practices, but "we are unsure whether the department is truly committed to fully implementing some of its own recommendations." As an example, in May 1996, the University of California's three laboratory contracts, worth about $3 billion, were extended without a competitive contracting process.

In the area of major acquisitions, GAO investigation shows that many large projects end prior to completion; many others show large cost overruns and delays. Some causes, however, appear to be constantly changing missions and incremental funding.

Other witnesses at the hearing included Caspar Weinberger, chairman of Forbes; Harold P. Smith, Jr., assistant to the secretary for atomic energy, U.S. Department of Defense; Shelby Brewer, president, S. Brewer Enterprises, Inc.; John W. Crawford of the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board; and Carole Keeton Rylander, chairman of the Railroad Commission of Texas. t

Joseph Schuler is associate editor of Public Utilities Fortnightly. E-mail: schuler@pur.com. (This report was compiled from written testimony submitted to the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.)

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