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Department of Energy. Actions Needed to Strengthen Acquisition Planning for Management and Operating Contracts.


In fiscal year 2015, the federal government spent almost $19 billion on 22 DOE M&O contracts -- a form of contract that traces its origins to the Manhattan Project. DOE uses M&O contracts to operate sites to carry out missions such as maintaining nuclear weapons and conducting energy and science research. Regulations require agencies to perform acquisition planning to ensure that the government meets its needs in the most effective, economical, and timely manner. GAO was asked to review DOE’s use of M&O contracts. This report examines (1) why DOE uses M&O contracts and key attributes associated with them, (2) the extent to which M&O contractors carried out mission-support activities and used subcontracts in fiscal year 2015, and (3) the extent to which DOE considered alternatives during acquisition planning for M&O contracts. GAO reviewed acquisition planning documents and other information on the 22 M&O contracts in place at the end of fiscal year 2015 and DOE regulations and procedures. GAO also interviewed DOE headquarters and M&O site office officials, contractors, and other federal contracting officials. GAO recommends that DOE’s acquisition planning documents for M&O contracts discuss alternatives beyond extending the M&O contract or competing a similar contract, and that DOE establish a process to analyze and apply its experience with contracting alternatives. In commenting on a draft of this report, DOE generally concurred with GAO’s recommendations.

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