NNSA should use portfolio management best practices to support modernization efforts
What GAO found
The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) has partially implemented some best practices to manage the work required to maintain and modernize the country’s nuclear weapons stockpile. GAO found that the NNSA is in the early stages of launching its portfolio management processes and has partially implemented leading practices, such as establishing a clearly defined work portfolio. For example, NNSA officials have stated that its credit account for armaments activities is a portfolio of works. However, the NNSA has not developed clearly defined governance roles with appropriate powers, such as a portfolio manager, for its portfolio of weapons activities. As the NNSA continues to develop its approach to portfolio management, establishing a portfolio management framework, in line with selected leading practices, can enable the NNSA to fully implement all best practices, better define how program offices will pursue the strategic objectives of inventory modernization and optimize performance in the event that budgetary trade-offs become necessary.
NNSA offices have undertaken four separate efforts to identify and assess the capabilities needed across the nuclear security enterprise to fulfill its mission of inventory maintenance and modernization, but the NNSA has not developed any full or comprehensive capacity assessment that could support its portfolio management approach (see fig.). The NNSA undertook three of these four independent efforts to identify and assess capacities in response to different legislative directions and did not incorporate any information on all elements of a capacity (knowledge, human capital, and infrastructure) into any of the individual efforts. . Working across the agency to conduct a full and comprehensive capacity assessment would provide the NNSA with a portfolio-level view of the company’s capabilities and needs, enabling planning that takes into account the interdependencies that have been missed in the business. spent when planning focused on individual programs or projects.
Relationship between capacity assessment and portfolio management
Why GAO did this study
The NNSA is simultaneously modernizing the country’s nuclear weapons stockpile and the infrastructure upon which weapons research and production programs depend. These efforts include multi-billion dollar defense programs and projects that provide the capabilities needed for maintenance and modernization programs. Congress previously asked the NNSA to identify its necessary capacities.
The Senate report accompanying the National Defense Authorization Act for FY2020 includes a provision for GAO to review the NNSA’s approach to managing its defense programs and identifying capabilities. . This report examines the extent to which the NNSA (1) has used selected portfolio management best practices to manage its maintenance and modernization programs and projects and (2) has developed a comprehensive and comprehensive capacity assessment to support portfolio management .
GAO reviewed NNSA’s documentation on portfolio management and capacity and compared it to best practices and legislative requirements. GAO also interviewed NNSA officials from six agency offices.