Audit of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission's Oversight of the Federally Funded Research and Development Center Contract
In October 1987, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) contracted with Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) to operate a Federally Funded Research and Development Center (FFRDC), with the principal focus to provide support for the NRC’s activities in licensing a deep geologic repository for high level waste and spent nuclear fuel. The SwRI established the Center for Nuclear Waste Regulatory Analyses to serve as an FFRDC. The current contract is the NRC’s seventh renewal of the FFRDC contract.
Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) Section 35.017-4 requires, prior to extending a contract for an FFRDC, a sponsoring agency must conduct a comprehensive review of the use and need for the facility.
The audit objectives were to determine if the NRC is (1) properly considering all FAR requirements for an FFRDC review in preparing its renewal justification; and, (2) adequately fulfilling its oversight responsibilities for the FFRDC.
The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) considers all FFRDC renewal FAR requirements to be satisfied. However, opportunities for improvement were identified in how the NRC oversees the administration of the contract. Specifically, opportunities for improvement were identified in the area of final invoice billing.
The OIG found that the NRC’s administration of the FFRDC contract relating to the final invoice billing is inadequate. The NRC requested SwRI to delay sending final invoices until requested to do so by the Contracting Specialist. The SwRI claims that the NRC owes
$599,414 on tasks completed between fiscal years 2011 and 2021. This occurs primarily because the NRC lacks resources related to closeout of cost-reimbursement contracts. As a result, the NRC on its own initiative issued SwRI an extension of the 120-day period for submitting invoices covering that period, even though the relevant FAR section, 52.216-7(d)(5), does not provide clear authority for the agency to take such action without a request from the contractor. This increases the risk of claims that funds are subject to the Prompt Payment Act, potential billing discrepancies not being identified or corrected in a timely manner, and old contract funds being unavailable for payment.
This report makes two recommendations to improve the final invoice billing and closeout process.
No recommendations at this time.